The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (often abbreviated RCIA) is the process through which interested adults are gradually introduced to the Roman Catholic way of life. This communal process involves a number of stages punctuated by liturgical rites to aid and assist the potential convert toward the final rite on the day of Easter Vigil at which time they will become full members of the Roman Catholic Church.
The RCIA process was introduced as a result of the Second Vatican Council, where a return to the ancient practice of Christian initiation was viewed as the proper form for the modern world. Prior to Vatican II, Christian initiation had evolved from the ancient practice to the form of individual private instruction with a priest. Although the private process has its merits, the council wanted to reintroduce the community aspect of the initiation process, as well as the liturgical and other elements as well.