Sharing the Good News with RCIA Neophytes

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Little Rock Connections: The Good News for Today
February 2018

Sharing the Good News with RCIA Neophytes

Sharing the Good News with RCIA Neophytes

By Mickey Edwards

“Go now in peace, my friends; go now in peace together. Go break open God’s word – good news ever heard. Go now in peace, my friends.”

Each week we sing this anthem as our RCIA catechumens are dismissed following the Sunday homily. They will spend the next 30 minutes breaking open the Word of God proclaimed and preached that day. Preparation for their dismissal begins at their catechetical session on the preceding Tuesday evening when the lectionary readings for the coming Sunday are proclaimed, and the catechumens are invited to pray over them during the next few days.

In addition, our RCIA team uses the Sunday readings to determine the doctrinal topic that is the subject of the Tuesday night meeting. The result is that our catechumens are steeped in the Word of God—they hear it proclaimed and preached; they reflect on it individually and together; and they use it as the lens for understanding the core teachings of the faith. This approach reflects the central place of sacred Scripture in the formation of Christian believers (See Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, nos. 81-89).

The Challenge of Mystagogia

In the fifty days from Easter to Pentecost our RCIA team focuses on incorporating neophytes, the newly-initiated Christians, into the life of the faith community by encouraging their involvement in parish activities and ministries. What can easily be overlooked during this period known as “mystagogia” is the very thing that held a central place for the neophytes during their catechumenate: the regular practice of breaking open the Word of God. We need to support our new Christians in continuing their encounter with God at the table of the Word, as well as the table of the Eucharist, and in the faith community. There are two ways to meet this challenge. The first is to encourage the neophytes to participate in existing Bible study groups in the parish. The second is to offer Scripture study specifically targeted to the neophytes. 

1. Inviting the Neophytes to Parish Bible Study

My parish offers various opportunities to break open the Word each week. There is “Lectio for Lectors and Anyone Else” on Monday evenings which uses the prayer form lectio divina to reflect on the lectionary readings for the coming Sunday. A similar group, “Road to Emmaus” meets on Monday mornings. These groups are well-suited to neophytes formed by the Sunday dismissal experience. There is also a Bible study on Friday mornings for mothers of preschoolers, with childcare provided.

Little Rock Scripture Study meets in the parish during the fall and spring for four to six weeks each season. In our study of the prophet Jeremiah this year we have split the 10-week study into six weeks in the fall and four in spring.

LRSS presents neophytes with a program that is well-grounded in biblical scholarship and designed to bring the sacred texts to life for today’s Christians. But four months elapse from Pentecost until our LRSS groups begin in the fall, and neophytes may slip through the cracks. And since our parish is in its second decade of Little Rock we are now doing intermediate courses. Neophytes with limited exposure to the Bible may find ten weeks on Jeremiah daunting.

2.  Offering Bible Study Especially for the Neophytes

The second approach is to present Scripture study in the spring or summer targeted to the neophytes, but open to all parishioners. Little Rock currently offers two 5-session studies “Panorama of the Old Testament” and “Panorama of the New Testament” and a 7-session “Introduction to the Bible” that would be good choices for neophytes and for any parishioners new to Bible study.

Another short and appealing option would be Little Rock’s aptly-titled Alive in the Word program. These 3-session courses are centered on a particular topic or theme. For neophytes meeting during the Easter season, “Easter, Season of Life and Fire” from Liturgical Seasons would be ideal. Other fruitful options might be a selection from Virtues for Disciples or Cloud of Witnesses. Opening these studies to all parishioners would lay the foundation for participants to move on to the parish’s regular LRSS program.

The vibrant faith of our newest members has been formed by sacred Scripture. When we encourage them to share their gift for breaking open “good news ever heard” in parish Bible study, all will be nourished by that gift. This is Good News indeed.

Mickey Edwards works in adult faith formation and spirituality. She is a Little Rock facilitator at St. John Neumann in Reston, Virginia, where she is also active in RCIA, environmental ministry and prayer shawl ministry. She first encountered LRSS at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, D.C. whose “Bread, Book and Brethren” takes pride in being the longest continuously meeting parish Bible study group in the archdiocese.


Amy Ekeh Little Rock Scripture Study is delighted to welcome Amy Ekeh as a member of the staff. Amy began her work with us on February 1st. While she will continue living in Connecticut with her husband and four children, she will serve as an editor and writer, contributing to continued offerings from Little Rock Scripture Study. She is an instructor in the Hartford Catholic Biblical School, a retreat leader, and contributor to numerous periodicals, among them Catechist Magazine and Liguorian Magazine. She is the author of Lent: Season of Transformation and Advent: Season of Divine Encounter, both part of the Alive in the Word series. We invite you to visit her blog at We’ll be introducing her more fully in the coming months.

Going to LA Religious Education Congress? We are too. Come by Booth #101 in the exhibit hall where we will be happy to show you what we’ve been up to and to take your good ideas. March 16-18, 2018.

Come to Little Rock for this year’s annual Bible Institute, Click here to download the brochure or call 501-664-6102 for more information

“A Lively Sense of God”:
Treasuring the Old Testament Witness to God
Brother John Barker, OFM

Little Rock Scripture Study

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