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Thames Isis Coordinating Pastor:
Rev Jamie McGrath
01235 520375


Coordinating Pastor's Office
1 Radley Road


OX14 3PL

Tel: 01235 520375



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Seeking Answers

Journey in Faith warmly welcomes:
  • Anyone who is searching or would like to enquire about the Catholic Faith.
  • All who have lost touch with the Church and are interested in renewing contact.
  • Everyone who is looking for a quiet time of reflection during a busy week or would like an opportunity to prepare for the Sunday Eucharist.

See below for the RCIA Programme

Or if  you are enquiring about the Catholic faith, we warmly invite you to contact: Father Paul King

RCIA Programme

A Brief Introduction to RCIA - The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or Journey of Faith towards the Roman Catholic Church .

What is RCIA?

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults was set up and approved by the Church after the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) for people who wish to find out about Catholicism and what it means to be a Catholic. It is the process for formation which leads to reception into the Church. It is all about an individual’s call by God (vocation) and a lifelong journey of faith.

What does RCIA (Journey of Faith) aim to do?

It offers the support of the Catholic community who can help and guide the enquirer to a fuller understanding of the Catholic faith and what this means for daily life. This happens with the help of a small team who ‘walk alongside’ the enquirer and who share with the enquirer their own ongoing journey of faith.

How does it work?

RCIA is not a programme to work your way through like an educational course; it is not a course of study and there are no written assignments! Rather than instruction it is formation- a gentle, ongoing process for ‘conversion of life’: a new way of seeing and acknowledging faith in God and a willingness to be led towards a life of love and service based on being a disciple of Jesus.

There are four steps along the journey:

A. The enquirer is welcomed and invited to enter into a period of formation with the guidance and support of the RCIA team. If the initial dialogue leads to a willingness to proceed, the enquirer is welcomed into the learning period (the ‘catechumenate’) by a simple Rite of Acceptance/Welcome at Sunday Mass.

B. The enquirer now becomes a catechumen or (if already baptised) a candidate. Regular study/prayer/discussion meetings are held, using the scripture readings for the forthcoming Sunday Mass as the basis of learning and discernment: there is a close link between the formation process (catechesis) and practical participation in worship (liturgy).

C. When the catechumen/candidate is ready to make a commitment to joining the Church he/she is enrolled by Bishop Crispian at a Mass in St. John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth. This signals the final period of preparation, in the nature of a retreat (usually during the season of Lent) that leads to receiving the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist – at the Easter Vigil.

D. Between Easter and Pentecost the new member of the Church is guided through a period of prayer, reflection and deepening awareness of Jesus’ call to discipleship.

How long does formation take?

There is no fixed timescale: it depends on the individual. For some, formation may take as little as a year (in exceptional circumstances less) while others feel more comfortable with a longer period. The norm is for the Rite of Election to take place at
or near the beginning of Lent and the Sacraments of Initiation to be received at the Easter Vigil. Whenever possible and appropriate we take advantage of these events because they highlight the place of the individual and the Catholic community to which they belong (parish/pastoral area) within the framework of the whole local Church (diocese) gathered together with its Bishop.

How is it organised in the Thames Isis Pastoral Area?

The enquirer(s) meet in the evenings every 2/3 weeks at the home of one of the team members. There is a friendly, informal atmosphere and a short social time with refreshments before the opening prayer, main focus for the evening (led by different team members on a rota), discussion and closing prayer. Enquirers are encouraged to raise issues either for immediate consideration or for discussion at future meetings. An outline of meetings and the principal areas of focus are circulated to everyone in advance.

Who does it involve?

Everyone! RCIA involves the whole parish community: all Christians are called to be ‘the witnesses and the living instruments of the mission of the Church itself’ . At the different parish celebrations, at each Sunday Mass and in the Sacraments of Initiation, it is the community of believers in Christ (represented in part by the RCIA team who provide the framework for learning, dialogue and prayer) who walk alongside the newly-welcomed person in their journey of faith. Each catechumen/candidate is additionally accompanied by a sponsor or companion of their own choice with whom they can confidentially discuss as necessary any questions, anxieties and joys along the way.

How is RCIA different from ‘instruction’?

There are important differences between RCIA and ‘instruction’ as used to be the case in the Catholic Church where individuals met privately with the priest. Vatican II in the 1960’s promulgated a new scheme by which candidates are offered not just information but a process over time for formation – ‘conversion of life’. They learn in, with and through the community rather than individually and privately. They share in the liturgy (especially Sunday Mass) and they prepare for their role as disciples of Jesus in hearing his Word and going out to live it each day.

Thank you for reading this brief overview of RCIA/Journey of Faith. We hope you have found it helpful and we would be delighted to hear from you if you would like more information or are considering joining us to explore the Catholic faith.

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