The catechumenate is the period of preparation for baptism that adults go through. The Catholic Church reinstated the catechumenate or Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) after the second Vatican Council. The process takes one year and culminates in the reception by adults of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. Christians baptized previously in other Churches are not baptized again. Instead, they publicly profess the Catholic faith and receive the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist.
Recently, there was a seminar in Suva for the training of catechumenate instructors from the parishes. I was a member of the team giving the training.
On the final day, a young man approached me. “I shouldn’t be here at all,” he said. “I was supposed to be playing rugby in Taveuni this week.” “So, what happened,” I asked. He answered, “Our catechist was supposed to come. But the night before this seminar started he phoned the parish priest to say that he couldn’t attend. The priest asked him if there were any unmarried men around. Just then, I passed the catechist’s house. The catechist called me to the phone. Our priest requested me to come to the seminar. I don’t know how I agreed, but I did!
I was a bit late arriving on the first day. I expected to find many young people like myself here. I got a shock when I saw that almost all the participants were elderly. I decided to go straight home again. I turned and went out of the hall. But, just as I left I met Archbishop Chong coming in. He took my arm and redirected me in a friendly way back to the hall.
I have really learned a lot here since and I have enjoyed the three days. I realize now that God wanted me to come here. He chose me for this work. He made sure that I would stay here. I will have to be very dedicated to the catechumenate when I return to my parish.”
Columban Fr. Frank Hoare lives and works in Fiji.