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Posted October 22, 2008

Book: Celebrating Initiation: A Guide for Priests
Author: Paul Turner
J.S. Puluch, Franklin Park, IL. 2008. Pp. 171

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

Your ordination to the priesthood was one of the most important events in your life. You probably remember the anniversary and celebrate it every year. Still, your baptism was even more significant, even if you were too young to remember it. For it was on that day you began sharing life in Christ.

Now as a priest you administer baptism. Initiation is probably one of your most satisfying ministries. Celebrating Mass is always a privilege. Funerals can be heart-wrenching. Weddings present unique challenges for sacred ritual. Confessions range from the superficial to the poignant. But the initiation rites almost always celebrate a time of great joy and welcome.

There are exceptions. Some newly-baptized adults rarely return to church. Some parents disappear after the baptism of their children. Some First Communions are last Communions.

Still, joyful events put initiation into motion. New life has come to a young family. A spouse decides to seek baptism. Children open their eyes to God as they prepare for First Communion.

The priest humbly finds himself at the exciting crossroads between an inviting God and a responding believer. His task is to celebrate the rites in a way that facilitates this divine communication. A good presider becomes transparent to the words and actions of initiation. He watches, guides and channels Godís love.

I have written this book for my brother priests. Deacons may benefit from it because they also preside for many of these rites. Lay ministers may enjoy reading over my shoulder. But I am writing this book primarily for priests to explain the many rites we need to know, and to help integrate them into the particular work we do as pastors, presiders, and preachers.

An Except from the Book:

Celebrations of the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil (RCIA 218-243)

You invite the godparents to light candles from the Easter candle. You either touch the Easter candle or hold it in your hands, probably depending on the size of the candle.

The godparents light candles and present them to the newly baptized, while you proclaim the pertinent text. The newly baptized are supposed to answer ďAmen,Ē but they probably wonít know to do this.

To expedite matters, I sometimes have the godparents light the candle as soon as each baptism finistes. So when the first newly baptized person steps away from the font, the godparent, who is holding the garment in one arm, lights a candle with the free hand, and stands with the neophyte while I baptize the next person. Then when all have been baptized, I recite the texts for the white garment and the candle.

Use nice candles. The newly baptized may want to keep theirs as a memento of the night, perhaps lighting it again on the anniversary of their baptism or other special occasions at home.

Table of Contents

Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens [RCIA 48-74]

Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens [for Children RCIA 262-276]


Anointing of the Catechumens

Welcoming the Candidates

Celebration of the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens and the Rite of Welcoming Baptized but Previously Uncatechized Adults who are preparing for Confirmation and/or Eucharist or reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church

Rite of sending

Sending the candidates for recognition by the bishop and for the call to continuing conversion

Parish celebration for sending catechumens for election and candidates for recognition by the bishop

Calling the candidates to continuing conversion


Penitential Rites for children

Penitential rite


Celebration of the sacraments of initiation [Easter Vigil]

Celebration at the Easter Vigil of the sacraments of initiation and of the rite of reception into the full communion of the Catholic church

Christian initiation of adults in exceptional circumstances

Christian initiation of a person in danger of death

Reception of baptized Christians into the full communion of the Catholic church

Baptism for several children

Baptism for one child

Baptism for a large number of children

Bringing a baptized child to the church

Confirmation of a person in danger of death

First Communion