Research on RCIA: Further and Future Considerations

RCIAA very wise and holy priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross once told me, in a moment of challenging simplicity, that the secret to the spiritual life was “showing up.” I was at that time seeking something along the lines of Saul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus so, like so many inheritors of good advice, I immediately disowned it. But upon reading a recent study by David Yamane on the results of RCIA implementation in over 30 parishes across the diocese of Ft. Wayne/South Bend, I was forced to revisit the priest’s advice. Yamane’s study employs complex sociological research methods and models (and I would suggest anyone interested in the details should read the study and also see Laura Taylor’s excellent post about it). For the purposes of this post, I would like to highlight Yamane’s finding that “the extent of RCIA implementation is the key factor driving this model…If we consider the total effect of implementation (its direct effect plus its indirect effect through rating), we see it is over three times as large as the effect of rating” (413-414). In other words, a more fully implemented RCIA program (including regular practice of the Rite of Dismissal, a longer period of mystagogy, and a continuous precatechumenate) is more effective at facilitating involvement in parish life than the participant’s personal assessment of the RCIA program. Continue reading