RCIA 15-16: Deacons and Catechists

img_6803The deacons get a very brief mention in the RCIA introduction:

15. Deacons should be ready to assist in the ministry to catechumens. Conferences of bishops that have decided in favor of the permanent diaconate should ensure that the number and distribution of permanent deacons are adequate for the carrying out of the steps, periods, and formation programs of the catechumenate wherever pastoral needs require.

Deacons seem to get short shrift here. Let’s keep in mind their primary liturgical role for the catechumens would be the proclamation of the Gospel. That’s no token bone thrown their way.

The catechists get a bit more:

16. Catechists, who have an important office for the progress of the catechumens and for the growth of the community, should, whenever possible, have an active part in the rites. When deputed by the bishop (see RCIA no. 12), they may perform the minor exorcisms and blessings contained in the ritual. (Lumen Gentium 26, Ad Gentes 16) When they are teaching, catechists should see that their instruction is filled with the spirit of the Gospel, adapted to the liturgical signs and the cycle of the Church’s year, suited to the needs of the catechumens, and as far as possible enriched by local traditions.

Commentary:

I would presume everything said about lay catechists would apply to deacons entrusted with the guidance of a catechumenate. Anyone who exercises leadership with catechumens, “should,” the rite says, have an active part in the rites. Context would suggest this is more than ordinary liturgical participation. Many parishes choose to have catechists introduce candidates to the pastor or bishop at public rites. Some catechists assist with liturgical roles.

Note that in RCIA 16, deputed lay people may “perform” liturgical blessings. I don’t know that this would pass muster today. My experience is that the blessings are important at catechetical sessions rather than at a Liturgy of the Word or Eucharist celebrated by the parish. When we get to RCIA 95ff and discuss these blessings, I’ll have more to say about what this might look like in a parish setting.

Note the outline for catechesis doesn’t mention the catechism, it focuses on the “spirit of the Gospel,” on the liturgical year, suited to the needs (not wants!) of the newcomers, and enriched by local tradition. Do you suppose “local” tradition means secular, parochial, or both?  

Thoughts and comments?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in post-conciliar liturgy documents, RCIA, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

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