So how does an RCIA Team measure if we are, in fact, effective? More to the point, how do we assess that our participants are rationally and emotionally convinced and gradually falling in love with all they were made for!
The first measure could best be summed up by “What Are the Participants Doing?.
By God’s grace and a first decade of trial and error, it seems our Team has presently managed a winning formula yielding consistency in effectiveness over the course of our second decade. We utilize fifteen indicators to evaluate whether or not we are serving our students best interests effectively. Upon review, your Team may find it ‘an extreme’ or even an impossibility to shoot for all fifteen. It is not my intention to discourage you! I have a tri-fold positive purpose in sharing these effectiveness indicators:
-To both edify and encourage you in your work
-To assure you of what, in fact, is possible
-To assist you in defining your goals!
While subsequent columns will address how to get here, let’s first determine where we are going.
Effectiveness Indicators (What Are The Participants Doing?)
1) Their interest is high from the first class to the close of the year. (In our program, that time spans from Oct thru June and includes the post-Easter Mystagogia Period.)
2) Apart from genuine emergencies, conflicts of a serious nature, clearly genuine instances of illness, or grave circumstances, there are NO challenges with attendance.
3 ) Their trust is high very early on and is sustained throughout
4) Regardless of the participant’s age, sex, marital status or prior perspective, your students miss attending the program when they have a day off and are truly saddened to see the year come to an end, longing to build on what they have received.
5) By the time you are working through the Commandments and divisive issues challenging our present day culture, your participants (for the most part and/or to the extent that they are presently able) have become rationally convinced that the Church guards and holds the objective truth about God and Reality; in other words, the truth about who they are, why they are here, and where the direction of their lives needs to be heading!
6) Your students feel entirely freed up to get all of their most difficult questions answered and come to the point where they feel a relative sense of peace.
7) When any given class is over, rather than ‘bolting’, they linger for further discussion. (With charity and gratitude, I share that many of our students, after an hour and a half class- preceeded by Mass-will hang around to the point where we have to ‘usher them out’!)
8 )All participants automatically attend the Rite of Election or Call To Continuing Conversion, Holy Week Services and the Neophyte Mass.
9 )When the program is over, they continue to attend Weekly Mass and, in some cases, begin to incorporate Daily Masses into their lives. They regularly frequent Confession and begin to develop a prayer life, incorporating the Rosary, Adoration, and attendance at special Holy Hours.
10) They often return the next year to reinforce select topics and/or retake the whole year of their own volition!
11) They expand out, taking advantage of additional programs, courses, and lectures, as well as reading books in areas of personal interest and utilizing the internet to increase and deepen their understanding of the Faith.
12) If their state in life permits, they become actively involved in the Church, serving in various areas or ministries. (At least half of our Team of 30 is presently made up of past participants!)
13) Those who have children take the raising of those children in the Faith seriously and consider it the top priority of anything and everything they could possibly give them.
14) The participants begin to respond to trial, suffering, and life’s challenges differently than when the program started.
15) They are better able to (or desire to be able to) explain and stand up for the Catholic Faith.
Subsequent columns will address the dynamics that yield this level of effectiveness. Next month, however, we explore a second measure of Evaluating Effectiveness: “What Are The Participants Saying?”
[Book recommendation: “Winning Converts: A Symposium on Methods of Convert Making for Priests and Lay People”, Edited by Rev. John A. O’ Brien; Forward by Karl Keating; Catholic Answers Inc., 1996]
2011 Peggy Clores