The catechumenate as we know it began to develop between 100 and 200 AD.
The fully-structured process emerged between the third and fifth centuries. By the third century, the initiation process had become a three-year, highly-structured formation.
In 315, the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. Large numbers of people began to convert to the Christian faith. The quality of catechesis and formation began to suffer.
In the late fifth century, the practice of initiation began to be focused on infants. Confirmation and Eucharist began to be separated from baptism.
By the twelfth century, the practice of infant baptism was normative. The catechumenate had died out, but elements of it could still be seen in the formation of monks and nuns.
By the sixteenth century, entire villages and communities were being baptized en-mass with little or no formation.
By the twentieth century, the catechumenate was a distant memory. However, some French missionaries began to revive elements of the ancient formation process to counteract the negative effects of mass baptisms and elevate the quality of lived-discipleship.
At the Second Vatican Council, the bishops called for a restoration of the catechumenate.
1966 – the provisional ritual for catechumenate was distributed
1972 – the normative rite was promulgated in Latin (Ordo initiationis christianae adultorum)
1974 – a provisional English translation was issued (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults)
1986 – the U.S. Bishops’ Conference approved present edition of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults with U.S. adaptations, national statutes, and a national plan of implementation
1988 – the U.S Bishops made the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults mandatory in the United States.
EXTRACT - RCIA Document
- Introduction para 1-35
- Period of Evangelization and PreCatechumenate para 36-40
- First Step: Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens para 41-47
- Period of the Catechumenate para 75-80
- Second Step: Election or Enrollment of Names para 118-128
- Period of Purification and Enlightenment para 138-149
- Period of Post Baptismal Catechesis or Mystagogy para 244-251
- Christian initiation of children who have reached catehetical age para 252-259
- Rite of Welcoming the Candidates para 411-415
- National Statues for the Catechumenate (Approved 11 Nov 1986)
- Conciliar Constitutions and Decrees
- Code of Canon Law
Info on the New Directory of Catechesis (2020)
As the Catholic Church embarks on the mission of teaching the Christian faith, the new Directory for Catechesis (2020) lays the how-to guidelines for catechesis and presents universal norms to guide pastors and catechists in the work of evangelization.
First released in 1971 and then updated in 1997, this latest edition considers both the opportunities and the challenges which the Church faces in an ever more global and secular society. The new Directory builds upon the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the ongoing work of the new evangelization