This unit presumes knowledge of and some experience in the implementation of the RCIA. It aims at deepening and broadening the understanding of the RCIA by studying the theology underpinning the Rite. The unit will explore the following topics: the role of Jesus and the role of the Trinity in the RCIA process; the theology of conversion; the meaning and praxis of catechesis; the theology and the historical development of the sacraments of initiation; the role of the word of God in the process of conversion; the theology of Church and of communion; the theology of ministry and of ministers of the RCIA; the theology and the relationship of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist; mystagogia as commitment, communion and mission.

Unit code: CT3111C

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Systematic Theology

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Explain the theology underpinning the RCIA and outline the main stages of its historical development.


Articulate the theological and pastoral reasons for the Church’s revision of the initiation rites of adults since Vatican II.


Define the theological principles underlying evangelisation, conversion, catechesis and mystagogia.


Describe the relationship of the three sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.


Demonstrate a theological understanding of the sacramentality of the Word of God in the process of conversion


Give a critical evaluation of the important role of RCIA catechesis for our 21st century Australian society


Critically evaluate the difficulties encountered by parishes in the implementation of the period of mystagogia and propose pastoral approaches towards its successful implementation

Unit sequence

Two Systematic Theology units at level 2



Indicative Bibliography

  • Capra, Elio. Called Gifted Sent: The Sacraments of Christian Initiation and the Triduum. Melbourne: James Goold House, 2010.
  • ———. Come and See: Resources for the Precatechumenate. Thornbury: Des Books, 2015.
  • Irwin, Kevin W. The Sacraments: Historical Foundations and Liturgical Theology. New York: Paulist Press, 2016.
  • Marchal, Michael H. The Spirit at Work: Conversion and the RCIA. Franklin Park, IL: WLP, 2010.
  • Radcliffe, Timothy OP. Take the Plunge: Living Baptism and Confirmation. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012.
  • Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Sydney: E. J. Dwyer, 1987. (recommended for purchase)
  • Turner, Paul. The Hallelujah Highway: A History of the Catechumenate. Chicago: Liturgical Training Publications, 2000.
  • ———. Celebrating Initiation. A guide for priests. Franklin Park, IL: WLP, 2007.
  • Wagner, Nick. *The Way of Faith. New London, CT: Twenty-third Publications, 2010.
  • Yarnold, Edward. The Awe Inspiring Rites of Initiation: The Origins of the RCIA*. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1994.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

3000 word essay

0 60.0

1000 word essay

0 20.0
Written Examination

1 hour written exam (1000 words)

0 20.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 20 Jul, 2017

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:50 +1000