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Liturgical Press

Real Stories of Christian Initiation

Lessons for and from the RCIA

David Yamane and Sarah MacMillen with Kelly Culver

Real Stories of Christian Initiation
Real Stories of Christian Initiation

ISBN: 9780814618264, 1826

Details: 160 pgs, 6 x 9
Publication Date: 02/01/2006
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The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is too often presented as an abstract ideal, detached from the actual parish settings in which it is implemented. This study takes the opposite approach. Based on data from participant observation and interviews, the authors tell real stories of the initiation process in five U.S. parishes. In doing so, they offer a detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the RCIA process in each of the parishes. From these stories collectively they draw lessons for the RCIA as well as lessons from the RCIA for the church as a whole.

Pastors, lay ministers, catechists, and directors of religious education, as well as those in seminaries and dioceses responsible for training them, will find this book helpful in realizing the full potential of the RCIA in general and in particular parish settings.

David Yamane is assistant professor of sociology at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His interest in the RCIA grows out of his own experience of having been initiated as an adult in 1992.

Sarah MacMillen is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

Kelly Culver currently works for the Satellite Theological Education Program (STEP) at the University of Notre Dame.

ISBN: 9780814618264, 1826

Details: 160 pgs, 6 x 9
Publication Date: 02/01/2006


This book is obviously important reading for all who are involved in their parish's RCIA process. But it could also benefit all parish leaders and ministry personnel by helping them identify and evaluate the style of leadership/ministry under which their parish operates and recognize the benefits as well as the pitfalls of that model.

The book is a valuable tool for many purposes. It is also a story of the dynamics of the process as experienced in an American diocese rich in diversity and potential.
Pastoral Music

Real Stories offers a variety of tools and models for individuals and teams who are implementing catechumenal adult initiation to do self-evaluation of their own parishes. The book encourages critical questioning, realistic goal-setting, and local adaptation. Most importantly, the authors recognize the beauty and power of every RCIA implementation, no matter what its resources, yet express confidence that with care, every RCIA may be made yet more powerful.
Notre Dame Center for Liturgy Bulletin

This title is a timely study of the RCIA process in the United States. . . .It is not often a book of such honesty appears to celebrate activity and process that we have come to accept as routine.
Catholic Library World

This book is a beginning of significant research on RCIA programs and their differences, and a deeper assessment of what makes them tick.
Catholic Studies An Online Journal

The parish profiles put you in the church pew (or in the lobby, in one case) and let you sit in on the catechumenate process so you can get a real flavor for the parish, its people and the program. The conclusion brings the lessons for the RCIA and from the RCIA into sharp focus for the parish. Definitely worth the space on the shelf.
Crux of the News

This book is a beginning of significant research on RCIA programs and their differences, and a deeper assessment of what makes them tick.
Catholic Book Reviews

This is a unique book. Here for the first time the practical RCIA rubs up against the theoretical RCIA. The marvel is that we can all see ourselves in the five cases that David Yamane and his colleagues have shown us. In seeing both the shortcomings and the successes of faithful people striving to be God's people, we can find hope and reassurance in our own struggles to implement the RCIA. Professor Yamane reminds us to concentrate intently on the rite of Christian initiation and, at the same time, to relax, allowing the spirit to inform and guide us as we assist people to prepare for and assume the responsibilities of baptism.
Chris Miller, Director of Religious Education, Sacred Heart Parish, Notre Dame, Indiana

No matter what the RCIA was designed to be, should be, or could be in the life of the church, Yamane's and MacMillen's excellent case-study of five Midwestern parishes reveals what the RCIA actually is, how it is used (and abused), and how it functions in parish life. Essential reading for pastors, RCIA directors, catechists, sponsors, and anyone involved with any facet of the Rites of Christian Initiation today. It raises the most significant issues-pastoral, catechetical, liturgical, and ecumenical-that cannot be ignored. It will be required reading for my Christian Initiation courses.
Maxwell E. Johnson, University of Notre Dame

Real Stories is a timely study of the RCIA process in the United States. Not a `how to book,' it raises the question, `what now?' Hopefully this study will encourage its readers to go back to the original magisterial documents of this marvelous and complicated process of initiation. For practitioners in the field, this study should be an encouragement and a caution. We can do better, and those we initiate deserve our informed best.
Patricia Norris, Association for Catechumenal Ministry, Director of Team Training, Loveland, Ohio

Congregations can find new richness and vitality in their communal life as they explore the honest and sincere stories of real parish situations found in this book. The various stories show the responsibility of catechumenal teams and parish communities to welcome and support all whose baptisms make them fellow members of their faith families. This book is an excellent foundational tool that leads to discussion and implementation of catechumenal process for initiation teams, baptism preparation teams, and parish community life.
Shirley Griffin, President of North American Association for the Catechumenate (NAAC)