Westminster: first reflections from RCIA conference

 The RCIA Vision was a conference held this past weekend by the Archdiocese of Westminster Department of Lifelong Learning and Catechesis at All Saints Pastoral Centre, London Colney, writes Diana Klein. The conference was led by Fr. Martin Jakubas, a priest of Arundel & Brighton Diocese and a member of the RCIA Network Executive, who said the RCIA is a way of being church. The conference focused on an on-going model of the RCIA, a year-round catechumenate and it proposed a lectionary-based model of catechesis. Here are comments from a few of the participants: From Tom Hobot (St Mary and St Michael, Commercial Road, Tower Hamlets): What has particularly struck me this weekend has been the unity and commitment of all us RCIA catechists in the work we do. I am really grateful to have been able to spend this time with 70 or so others in such a spiritual way. The way in which this week's gospel (Mark 6:7-13) can be interpreted is to trust in God, in the Holy Spirit, to go out do his work. As long as the trust is there I know and feel that he'll ensure I say and do the right things and be able to lead the group of men and women who have come as part of their spiritual journey to be received into the Church. From: Duncan McGibbon (St Margarets on Thames, East Twickenham): I came with Anne Reynolds, our Pastoral Assistant, who had one year of experience with RCIA. I can hardly remember a time when I have not been preoccupied with these evocative initials. Both of us felt strengthened by the weekend. It began with a virtual meeting with three enquirers whose difficult and fascinating lives made it so important for each parish to establish a catechumenal model. Two issues dominated the the meeting; the use of a lectionary based model with its round-the-year resources, and the sheer scope of the liturgy to give fire and sweetness to the image of Christ and his love that we invite our enquirers to. From Winnie Brady (St Luke, Pinner): For me, this was an opening up of my understanding of the Church. The term 'lectionary based catechesis' has a mysterious ring - its something for other people to become involved in. The practical application of this weekend has taken away much of the mystery and has unfolded the value and richness of this way of Church. Simple, uncluttered liturgies; the lighted cross; anointing with oil - an enriching ritual; all have meant a growing in faith with active involvement of each one present. Valuable, too, is the opportunity to share good practice with fellow catechists; to recall the documents of Vatican II; and to affirm the involvement of the whole parish in the RCIA process. A really worthwhile and constructive weekend. From Michael St John (St Philip the Apostle, Finchley Church End): The Challenge of the Conference. Between the years 2001 and 2002 I had spent over 200 hours - something totalling seven and eight working weeks - compiling over forty topic sheets and developmental notes for my parish RCIA programme. I was mightily proud of having completed what I hoped was a thoughtfully developed exercise - well referenced and reasonably related to scripture. This beautifully presented conference has brought me to realise that my painstaking inflexible package must somehow be far more closely linked to the Sunday by Sunday lectionary readings and thereby given a certain amount of ongoing scriptural and liturgical inspiration. My heart sinks at the prospect ! I am however deeply moved and quietly resolved to set about transforming these presentations in company with my fellow catechist Anne Godwin, as a result of such a persuasive, constructive and deeply prayerful conference. I particularly value my first overview of the books 'Year round catechumenate' and 'Foundations of Faith' as an aid to what I hope will be a profound readjustment rather than a 'back to the drawing board' enterprise. A heartfelt thank you for this companionably devised conference. An invigorating experience !

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