RCIA Catechists: Getting the Newly Initiated to “Come Back” for Mystagogia

dv1954037I had a nice discussion last evening with some RCIA coordinators, catechists, and sponsors, who were lamenting how difficult it is to get the newly initiated to return for sessions following the Easter Vigil. (Sounds very similar to the struggle we have getting kids to come back after Confirmation, eh?) The Easter season is to be a period of “mystagogia” (miss-tuh-GO-jyah) – an opportunity to reflect upon the mysteries of our faith (which basically describes the life of every Christian following baptism).

Nick Wagner at TeamRCIA offers some good suggestions…be sure to take a look.  I especially like the suggestion about having a celebration – perhaps a pot luck dinner – to gather the Neophytes and the newly received and to use this as an opportunity to introduce mystagogia. I did this when I was involved in RCIA and it works because you can get people to commit (before Easter) to bringing something to a pot luck that takes place after Easter. You may even consider a “series” (perhaps 3) of pot lucks between Easter and Pentecost, and use each occasion to engage in mystagogia.

What other strategies do you know of for enticing the newly initiated to attend post-baptismal catechesis/mystagogia?

About Joe Paprocki 2166 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

2 Comments on RCIA Catechists: Getting the Newly Initiated to “Come Back” for Mystagogia

  1. I have to say, I have tried it all: “picture sharing” night as a way to talk over memories and impressions of the Vigil, the aforementioned potlucks, brunch after church on Sunday, bringing others in to talk about ways they stay connected to the parish, making sure to say hi to them at mass on Sunday, if I see them.

    When they are done, they are done. After over 25 years, I haven’t found the magic bullet. They even lament, “I don’t know what I’ll do with an extra night a week!” But that doesn’t mean they want to spend it meeting.

    I do have two sessions post Easter combining some of the elements above, but have learned to not expect more than about 60% attendance.

    I finally consoled myself with two things: 1) in the early church, they were prepared to be Christians, but had no idea what the sacraments entailed until they were initiated into the mysteries. We spend weeks doing beforehand what they used to do during mystagogy. So, in one sense, since they have seen the Eucharist and we’ve gone over mass, what are they coming back to talk about? (I can think of things, but I am looking at this from the point of view of the original purpose of mystagogy.)

    2) Living out what it means to be Catholic really is their mystagogy. And doing things like finishing up preparations for their weddings, etc. The best place to ‘live it out’ is out there, not in a meeting room. And this is going to take a different shape in a very mobile parish, like the one I work in, versus a very stable parish, where you are going to see these folks for the next 20 years.

    I try to keep in touch, at least with some email suggestions, at least until they change their email addresses!

    • Cathy, thanks…I like the fact that you stress that the best place for mystagogy is not necessarily in a meeting room! I think many of us would be happy to get them back once in the meeting room after Easter and equip them with what they need to do mystagogy in an intentional way for the rest of their lives, either on their own or in a small group, or just in the general life of the parish.

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