By Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor
When persons from throughout the Diocese who are involved in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults gather in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, May 12, they will be doing much more than commemorating an anniversary of a parish program. They will be celebrating the anniversary of something established by the Catholic Church through which an individual can come to grow in his or her faith, accept the Gospel message and values and know what the Church believes and teaches.
The May 12 event, to run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and hosted by the diocesan Department of Catechesis, will be a celebration of the 30 years since the U.S. Bishops mandated that the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults serve as the formal process of conversion for adults who are seeking to become Catholic. The occasion will also inaugurate a two-year process of catechetical sessions of formation for those ministering in the RCIA in parishes.
Following registration at 8:30 a.m. and an opening prayer at 9:15, participants will hear a 10 a.m. keynote address by nationally known RCIA presenter Nick Wagner, co-founder and co-director of Team RCIA, a free, online resource for RCIA team members. Wagner has more than 35 years’ experience as a leader and trainer in liturgical and catechetical ministries and is a published author.
Following lunch, participants will have an opportunity to attend breakout workshops focusing on the stages of the RCIA process. The workshops will give those in attendance a preview of the formation sessions that will be offered in greater detail over the next two years.
Workshops topics and presenters are:
The Pre-Catechumenate: Mercy Sister Eleanor McCann, parish staff member and pastoral associate in the Cathedral Parish Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, Philadelphia, and former associate director in the diocesan Office of Worship.
The Catechumenate: Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry, pastoral associate in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral (English) and Josue Arriola, director of the diocesan Department of Evangelization and Family Life (Spanish).
Purification and Enlightenment: Father Gene Vavrick, pastor of St. Anselm Parish, Wayside.
Mystagogy: Dale Zanetti, adult faith formation coordinator in Visitation Parish, Brick
Doing the Rites Right: Msgr. Sam Sirianni, rector of St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral and former director of the diocesan Office of Worship.
Reflecting on the upcoming event, Steve Bulvanoski, diocesan RCIA coordinator, explained how the RCIA was restored following the Second Vatican Council and as a process, the RCIA recognizes that “conversion is a free gift from God that must be nurtured, supported and allowed to grow with the help of the Holy Spirit until the individual is ready to take the final step and become a Catholic.”
He added that the Diocese of Trenton has embraced bringing the restored Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults into all parishes over the years and acknowledged the vast number of “excellent RCIA leades, both on the diocesan and parish levels, along with well-trained parish RCIA teams who have worked long and hard in this valuable ministry.”
The diocesan anniversary celebration is geared to “encourage all participants to look back at the work that the Lord has done through the RCIA ministry in our Diocese and to look forward to what God continues to call us to do and encourages us to look forward to the future,” said Bulvanoski.
St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral is located at 61 Georgia Road, Freehold. Fee is $15 per person and includes light breakfast and lunch. To register, visit https://dioceseoftrenton.org/30yearsofrcia. For more information, contact Bulvanoski at 609-403-7185 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Doreen Gallway at 609-403-7144 or email@example.com.