Tag Archives: Catechism

RCIA v.2

       RCIA Logo

August 31, 2012

HourglassRCIA v. 1 – 2012 – The first RCIA class was more than a year back in my rear view window, and as of Easter, 2013, its class members were all now full members of the Catholic Church.

       March 31, 2013 – Easter

HourglassApril 30, 2013 – My husband and I agreed that we were both ready for my entrance into the Catholic Church.

HourglassMay 31, 2013 – Melissa had directed me to Fr. Ron who would be open to a modified RCIA path for me into the Catholic Church.

HourglassJune 30, 2013 – I met with Fr. Ron and Jason to discuss the possibility of entering the church before Easter – with the emphasis on my getting baptized.


Clock Tic TocTick-tock – time was passing…something which is most particularly noticeable after one passes the age of 60.  One month gone after meeting with Fr. Ron, and I was still waiting to receive the promised book for Jason’s RCIA class.

Anxious to get going with life, I contacted Jason for the title.  On Amazon I ordered Peter Kreeft’s Catholic Christianity: A Complete Catechism of Catholic Church Beliefs Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  

It arrived…$20…and another book about Catholicism on my shelves.  Three books on the catechism of the church…and I was still waiting for RCIA to begin.

Writer Ink Well ScrollSubject: Kreeft Book Arrived
Date: Mon, July 21, 2014

Hi, Jason,
Peter Kreeft’s book arrived Saturday.  My husband Vic and I leave Friday for a week with our son and family in Maryland…returning August 1.  Do you have an RCIA plan for the book that I can start with?
~~ Thanks!  Jane Jimenez

——– Message ——–
Typewriter HeartTo: Jane Jimenez
Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2014

Good to hear from you.  I’m almost done with the curriculum.  As soon as I finish, I’ll let you know the sequence we’re following.  Have you given any more thought to doing it with the group?  Community is the best context.
~~ Jason

——– Message ——–
Writer Ink Well ScrollSubject: Kreeft Book Arrived
Date: Tue, July 22, 2014


What is your time frame for the RCIA group?  Time frame for my entering the church?
~~ Jane

——– Message ——–

Typewriter HeartTo: Jane Jimenez
Subject: Kreeft Book Arrived
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2014

Some, when ready, enter on Easter, but like Fr. Ron said, we can’t have a blanket time frame because it’s all about someone’s personal readiness.  I hope that makes sense.  At any rate, you’ll discover and experience more from the group than you will from just me, so I hope you’ll consider attending.  Takes place on Tuesday evenings, beginning Sept 16.

——– Message ——–

Writer Ink Well Scroll
To: Jason
RE: Kreeft Book Arrived
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2014

Thanks, Jason.  We leave tomorrow 6 a.m. for a week and return August 1.  I will check back with you the first week of August.


Crucifix 8Thankfully, regular life intervened and gave some amount of respite from my anxieties about RCIA.

Our trip to Maryland for a visit with kids and grand kids was a wonderful time away from the daily details of life.  By the time we returned, I anticipated that Jason would have his lessons plans completed, and he could give me some reading assignments.  I was more than ready.

At home and settled in from our trip, I gave Jason a call.

Telephone“Hi, Jason, this is Jane.  I’m back from our trip and wondered if you had a plan for me to get started.”

“Our RCIA class is starting next month.  It’s not that far away.  Why don’t you sign up and attend the class?”

“If I did that, what would be the schedule for me to be baptized and enter the church?”

“Well, we have classes until Easter, and everyone enters at Easter Vigil Mass.  It’s a wonderful experience, and you really bond and develop good relationships with other people going through the RCIA program with you.”

Baptismal Font“I guess I’m a bit confused, Jason.  Fr. Ron had mentioned an option that would allow me to be baptized prior to Easter.  I understood that there was an option for me that would permit me to do that and to enter the Church sooner than Easter…which is eight months from now.”

“Why don’t you want to be a part of RCIA?”

“I’m happy to learn, to study and to take classes.  But I want to be baptized.”CCC

“You know the Church allows you to wait until Easter.  As a catechumen, if something were to happen to you before Easter, you would be treated as if you had been baptized.  You don’t have to be baptized before Easter.”

“Maybe not…but I want to be baptized.  I don’t want to wait.  Fr. Ron said that was possible.  It seems like you are saying that it’s not.  Are you saying that the only option for me is to go through the regular RCIA program?”

“Well…ah…I…uh…I’m confused myself.  I don’t really know what I am supposed to do.  And I don’t have the authority to make a decision like that.  I don’t really see what the problem is and why you don’t want to take the RCIA program.  As a catechumen, the church lets you wait and get baptized at Easter.”

“Well…ah…I understand your situation Jason.  Maybe the best way to understand this is to let Fr. Ron clarify it for us.  Thanks, Jason.”

By now…I felt like I was the last person in line at a party where we were playing the telephone Calendar 2013 Margame.  I had begun with Fr. Ron 45 days ago.  If I could trust my memory, I had been told that he would consider an optional form of RCIA for me that would permit me to be baptized and even enter the church prior to Easter, hopefully before Christmas.  Two months had passed since that meeting, and I felt like I was back in the batter’s box warming up.


Writer Ink Well ScrollFrom: JANE JIMENEZ
Date: Wed, August 06, 2014 8:27 pm

Good evening Father Ron and Jason,

I am somewhat confused at this point.  Is it possible to speak by phone with Father Ron?  I find back-and-forth dialogue easier in one brief phone conversation than in using e-mail?

I am available at Father’s convenience on my cell phone.  If you prefer to set a date/time for the call, just let me know what works.  I am also more than happy to come in.  I just want to conserve your time in your busy schedule.

Thank you,
Jane Jimenez




RETURN to the COMING HOME Contents.

 Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.


Dinner Table

My poor Dad.

I sat down for dinner, and he turned to me.  “My last column in the magazine…you got me into so much trouble.”  I looked at him quizzically.  “You know that joke you told me.”  No, I didn’t.  “You remember,” he said, attempting to jog my memory.

Those who can…do.
Those who can’t…teach.
Those who can’t teach…teach teachers.

“Oh, Daddy.  You can’t print that joke!”  I cried out.  “I’m a teacher.  I get it.  But you can’t expect other teachers to laugh.”  And I broke out in laughter.Teacher

Teachers are a tough crowd.

At a meeting long ago, I waited for the teacher up front to get rolling.  He was digging for pencils and trying to find his notes.  The person next to me, rolled into her rant.  “I can’t believe he didn’t come with pencils…sharpened pencils!  What a waste of time…blah, blah, blah.”  I asked, but I didn’t have to.  Yes, she was a classroom teacher.

Teaching teachers is not for sissies.  For more than ten years, I flew around the country teaching other teachers the principals of elementary math instruction.  Teaching teachers…it kept me humble…or as humble as I am capable of being.

Thus…with all the humility I can possibly muster…It’s NOT that hard!  Teaching RCIA is not that hard.  Really!



The BASICS are basic:

  • Welcome everyone.  Remember to tell them how freakin’ excited you are that they are here tonight.
  • Pray.  Start the evening in prayer, showing how important Jesus is in the class and in your Jesus Sheep 2individual lives.
  • Get their names.  Of course, this means that you are so freakin’ excited that they are here that you are going to get in touch with them over the next week to get to know who they are, where they are, and what they care about.  Learn their names!
  • Ask them.  Why are they here?  Are they freakin’ excited about Jesus or are they just trying to make their spouse happy by joining the church?  Either answer is great!  It just helps to know.
  • Tell them upfront what the seven sacraments are and that next week you will help them fill out the enrollment form…because…now…
  • The most important thing for the first class is to share questions about Jesus and the Catholic Church that they hope to answer in the weeks (not years) ahead.

After that…it’s still not that hard.  For one thing…you have a fully outlined curriculum, the CCCCatechism of the Catholic Church.  And, after the first week, you will know the individuals in your class.  Just pick the 10 essential topics of the Catechism, refer to student/participant questions and go from there.

It was absolutely inconceivable to me, after trying for months, reaching out to RCIA authorities in order to find the fountain of inspiration for RCIA, to learn that there was no fountain.  In the most important job of the Church, evangelizing new believers, lambs of the flock of Christ…the manner of reaching and shepherding these lambs home was left up to chance.  A compass with no needle.  A sign with no arrow.

Most disconcerting was the fact that the Catholic Church, as evidenced by its Catechism of the Catholic Church leaves very little up to chance concerning the Catholic faith.  It’s all spelled out.  Every scintilla.  Except when it comes to RCIA.

In the case of RCIA, it’s all up for grabs.  Whoever shows up to teach the class, given their best effort, is left to pick and choose the goals and materials.  It’s not that they are doomed to failure.  It’s just that they are not guaranteed success, either.

Again, needing humility, I beg to put forward my own life experience in teaching as a vision of what is possible for RCIA.

For more than ten years, during summer breaks, I traveled around the United States to teach Globe USAclasses on mathematics.  I was one of a cadre of over one hundred teachers from all parts of the U.S….all of us leaving our home states during the summer on a mission to change math instruction.  Our parent instructor (our “Vatican pope” of math) resided in California.  The math “Vatican” gave all instructors a set of lesson plans in a three-ring binder which included a list of materials required for the lessons.

We instructors learned from each other.  In our first years, we traveled to observe and work with experienced leaders from California.  In succeeding years, we broke off to teach in teams.  And finally, secure in our abilities, we went solo.  Every year, all the instructors came together at a national meeting where we discussed our individual challenges and confirmed the essentials of and improvements to the workshop.

For better or for worse, a workshop in Oregon could be expected to mirror another in Florida, each  taught by two different people.  If an instructor in Virginia had devised a more effective way of demonstrating a lesson on fractions, you could know with certainty that in less than a year this would be shared to all of our instructors across the U.S.

We were all on the same track, bound by our shared mission, but we were not mindless robots.  Quite the converse.  We devised a way of building and maintaining an effective curriculum across fifty states that was fluid, yet held in place by a core curriculum and the very real experiences of workshop leaders and our students.

To think that the Pope or his representative from the Vatican, would Dollar Signbe unable to nix charging RCIA participants $60 just to learn about Christ and the Church…well…to think that…was unthinkable.

Of course…I am a teacher…a tough nut to crack.

Still…if a little ol’ California company founded in a basement can lead a national revolution in math Vatican Frontinstruction, it boggles the mind to think of what the Vatican could do in the wisdom of its leadership and those who love and serve the Church around the world.

Teachers teaching teachers…challenging, yes…but not impossible.





Copyright, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

RCIA v. 1

Crucifix 6

August 2012

Fifty paces ahead on the sidewalk, an arrow pointing to my left…in less than a minute I would finally be walking through the door to the RCIA* class and into the Catholic Church.

A mixture of anticipation and apprehension stirred inside me. After years of watching Catholicism play out on EWTN, of wondering if I could really become Catholic and of considering what it would mean for the rest of my life…I was officially on the journey.

Marcus Grodi, on EWTN’s The Journey Home show, each week traced the personal journeys of people just like me who had each walked through the door into the Catholic Church. Never Catechumenmissing an episode, I had identified with each of his guests – their early lives, their prejudices against Catholicism, their faith questions, their loss of family and friends who could not deal with their new faith…and most definitely…with their peace and joy when at long last they walked toward the priest for their first reception of the Eucharist.

Emotionally embracing the Catholic faith, I had finally come to that place of peace…short of the final decision. And here I was walking up the sidewalk, the decision being sealed as I reached for the handle, pulled…and walked into the room.

The moment was transformational, a personal allegory, the first movement of the first petal on a rose opening to the world, a hint of the anticipated joy when I…not someone else on a television show…when I would be walking toward the priest in full communion with the Church.

Ahh…romantic notions don’t always play out so nicely.

I surveyed the large gym being used for our RCIA classroom. It seemed as if a sixth grade class complete with its desks and teacher podium had been carefully lowered through the roof, keeping the rows and aisles clearly defined in the middle of the big open space. I introduced myself to the woman who approached. She smiled, recognizing my name from her list, and handed me an enrollment page and class syllabus. “What sacraments do you want?” she asked.

I was caught up short. Could I really be so unprepared for becoming Catholic? What did she mean? Marriage? I was already married. Communion (I should remember to call it the Eucharist)? Well…doesn’t everyone want that? Anointing of the sick? What the heck does that have to do with entering the church? I did the only thing I could think of to avoid a long discussion at the door. “I don’t know. What sacraments are there?”

RCIA Form“That’s OK,” she said. “We will go over that in class.” I walked toward the desks and chose a seat in the middle of the room.

As people joined the group, we worked to fill out our enrollments. The leader had by this time discerned the need for her to help us out. “There are seven sacraments,” she explained. It took only two minutes for her to list and explain them.

If this was a precursor of things to come, I was in a lot of trouble. The form required the kind of details I have never been good at…and for that reason…details that I have never much cared to deal with. How old am I? Every time…I have to subtract 1951 from the current year. What anniversary are my husband and I celebrating? I have to go to the file cabinet, pull out our marriage certificate and do another subtraction problem. If not careful, we may pass by our golden wedding anniversary without even knowing it.

The enrollment form had it all…questions about things I did know…how Wedding Ringsmany times have I been married? One.  How long have we been married? (Well, fewer than 50 years but more than 30…I think.)

And questions I knew nothing about…date of my confirmation…sponsor of my confirmation…place of baptism…and date….

Calendar 2012 YearWell, this was September. The class ran weekly through next March.  Seven months.  I had time to figure it all out.

Things did not get easier.

The leader went to the podium, pulled out the syllabus and began running down all the requirements for the class. We would have to buy a copy of the Catholic Catechism. Her assistant held up a red book. I was ready to check that off my list. My green copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., published by the Vatican CCCPress was clearly legit…even if it was green instead of red…one of those unnecessary details I wouldn’t let concern me.

As people began asking questions about the book and its cost, the leader addressed the green/red issue. My book was the official Vatican Catechism. The class copy – required – was the revision made by the U.S. Council of Bishops…another $20 book on my shelf.

Bible RC IgnatiusThe assistant held up a copy of the wine colored Ignatius Catholic Bible required for the class. Wine? Check. My Bible matches this time. I just saved myself $20.

But things were adding up fast: $60 cost for the class, $40 for books and $80 for a required Cursillo retreat in November.

Bible OpenThe lady to my left on the other side of the aisle raised her hand. “I’ve got a King James Bible. [KJV]”  The leader was insistent…the KJV version wouldn’t work. “But what’s the difference. I have a Bible.” I waited for the leader to help the lady understand the distinctions between the two versions of the Bible.

“They’re not the same. They are different.” In frustration, a man in the front row turned around and said loudly he would pay for the her Bible. Tension was building in the room.

I wanted to lean over and reassure her of the validity of both her Bible and her question. I sat in the middle of a room clearly divided into two  groups representing the parish. On my left, tattooed men and women were dressed in work jeans and shirts. On my right, people were in button down shirts, dress slacks and dresses. While the man had offered to cover the $20, she still had $160 left to worry about, even if the leader had said people could break it down into payments. And, while he intended his offer out of kindness, for the person publicly identified as “too poor to afford a Bible,” kindness is not much better than condescension.

Maybe my failure to appreciate details was finally catching up with me. Did it mean I might not have what it takes to be Catholic? I just couldn’t figure out why her KJV was illegitimate in its totality. I kept waiting to see Christian charity modeled by the leader, “Sure. You can use your KJV, and we will help you with the other additions from the Catholic Bible. Just check with me after the class.”

Things did not improve. Marching down the syllabus, our leader picked upRCIA Form speed.

“You will need a sponsor.”

“What is that? I don’t know anyone. What do they do?” Looks of concern and confusion clouded faces as questions popped up randomly from around the room.

St. Francis IconDon’t worry about that. We’ll talk about it in another class. If you can’t find one, we will find one. Let’s move on. You will need to choose a saint.”

“What is that?” More clouded faces and popping questions. “How do we do that? I don’t know any saints. How do we know which saint to choose?”

“Don’t worry about that. We’ll talk about it in another class. We will help you. Let’s move on. I’m passing around a page. Make sure you get one. Each week you will need to write down one charitable deed you did for each day and turn this page in to me when you come to class.”

“What…what…what…?” The questions were moving quickly from lack of understanding about how to do the assignments to lack of understanding for why.

“Don’t worry. It’s not that hard. You don’t have to make it difficult…like mowing someone’s yard. It can be as simple as smiling at someone. That is a charitable act…and that is part of being Catholic. I won’t be grading them.”

My mind wandered away from the discussion of charitable deeds in order to deal with more pragmatic and personal questions.

This was the beginning of weekly classes from September through to March 31, Easter. Calendar 2013 MarWhile I now knew which of the seven sacraments I needed, that had become secondary to the question of whether or not it made sense to complete the class. After all, my husband was not at peace with the whole Catholic/Protestant division. Considering our marriage as a vocation, and validated by a woman on The Journey Home who had lived my situation, I knew I would not formally join the church until my husband reached personal peace about the change. He didn’t have to become Catholic himself, but it was important that he be at peace with my decision. There was no sign that this would come by Easter. Maybe RCIA could wait for another year…and another class.

I mentally re-entered the world. Time for the class being short, the leader took the last few minutes to go around the room, all of the students and leaders giving a brief statement of who we were and why we were in the class…did we want to become Catholic and why?

A prayer was offered. Cookies were on the back table.

I walked back to the leader and thanked her for the class, explaining that, now knowing what the RCIA process was like, it might be more appropriate for me to wait and take the class when I knew for certain that I would be able to enter the church at the end.

As I walked through the door, back into my former world, my mind was churning, Crucifix 6my heart was pumping, and my eyes were burning. “Wow.”  And I exhaled as slowly as possible.


*RCIA: Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults, the educational class, teaching the basic doctrines of Christianity and the Catholic Church, preparing adults (catechumens) to enter the Roman Catholic Church. In current practice, the class meets weekly beginning in the fall and culminates 7 to 8 months later at Easter Vigil Mass of the following spring with entrance for the catechumens into the Church.





Copyright, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Don’t Get Mad

The worst part of this writing project is that it involves a heavy discussion of religion.

Crucifix 5Well..actually…the very worst part of this project is that it involves the Catholic religion.

I shudder when I consider Internet Comboxes on religious websites. There is simply no way to have a civil discussion about faith. In short time, someone will write an attack on someone else, and like flies to cows, the Combox will fill with absolutely Bee YJ Closeuseless vitriol.

And those are the “good” comments. If the blog merely mentions the Catholic faith, you will draw killer flies, hornets, Africanized bees and tarantula hawks. I know what I am in for.

I am not only going to mention the Catholic Church. I am going to mention it in every line. Please, please, please…don’t get mad.  I am going to question it, challenge it and confront it. But, it’s not what you might think.

Heads-up. I love the Catholic Church. I want to join the Catholic Church. And, when I first pursued her (the Church is the Bride of Christ – her), I thought we were a match made in heaven. I called the contact in the church bulletin and put my name on the list for RCIA, their class for new members.

CCCDuring the course of my years working in a pro-life arena, I came to understand, appreciate and agree with the Catholic  pro-life position on everything…yes…everything, including the thorny issue of contraception. I amassed a library, courtesy of Amazon, of books on every aspect of the Catholic faith: the Reformation, early church fathers, the Saints, prayer, biographies…and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Edition.

In the car, I continue to catch the Rosary with Fr. Benedict Groeschel. Between Patrick Coffin and Patrick Madrid, on the highway, I have traveled at least 150 hours’ worth of Q&A with radio listeners asking Catholic questions, including pointed challenges to the “Patricks” each of whom welcomes challenges from non-Catholics.

Meanwhile, at home on television, the EWTN schedule of programs covers every aspect of The New Evangelization. I Live Right with Dr. Ray, yell, “Go get ‘em, ladies,” to the women with The Catholic View, Consume the Word with Dr. Scott, track current news with Raymond Arroyo and remain ready at any moment to Grab my Catechism.

Daily, I receive the Saint of the Day via e-mail, recording each of the Saint’s names and dates in my St. Francis Icondevotional journal. Measuring their accomplishments against my own life, I come up short. And I have no time to “catch up.” I calculate the age of each saint at death. Few make it past 65. Both my father and mother died at 62. I am 63.

The saints, reaching out to me through the centuries,  inspired me to attend the last two West Coast Walk for Life events in San Francisco and to travel to Jamaica to volunteer with the Missionaries of the Poor.

OK. I hear you. It’s not all about me. I get it. None of this is intended to vouch for my personal and perfect understanding of everything Catholic.

Praying Hands GoldIt’s simply that some of it is about me. And considering that the protestants took me out of agnosticism when I was raw and untested, when I had never cracked a Bible and had to learn the Our Father…I figured I was at least ready, after twenty years of dedication to Christ, to enter the Catholic Church and fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. [1Tim 6:12]

I was wrong.





Copyright, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.