April 22, 2022

Christ the King Parish takes new approach to period of mystagogy

A summary of paragraph #1075 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church provides a definition of the term mystagogy. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

A summary of paragraph #1075 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church provides a definition of the term mystagogy. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

Mystagogy. Quanah Jeffries knew it was the period of time after Easter for new Catholics as part of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).

“I’ve been doing research on mystagogy,” said Jeffries. As the new director of faith formation and evangelization for Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, he wanted a better understanding of the term and how to best put it into practice.

Mystagogy, which means “initiation into the mysteries,” is “about entering into the full liturgical life of the Church and fully participating in the communal life of the Church,” he said.

The typical mystagogy process “is normally some kind of dinner, some kind of last celebratory gathering after having come into the Church, speaking more about ways of coming more into parish life, both liturgically and otherwise,” he explained.

But this period of RCIA receives little emphasis, said Father Todd Riebe, pastor of Christ the King.

“For many in our parishes, the period after being received into the Church during the Easter Vigil, mystagogy is almost an afterthought,” he said.

He and Jeffries had a vision for something more, something that would create for the new Catholics and the entire parish community “a time of deepening catechesis,” said Jeffries.

Father Riebe agreed.

“As a community of disciples, we’re all lifelong learners,” he said. “So we wanted to open the mystagogy to all the parish community, so it would be adult formation for them.”

Their solution: an “Easter Speaker Series” throughout the month of May open to the parish’s new Catholics, existing members and the public in general.

“We’ll still have a dinner in the rectory just for the RCIA group,” said Jeffries. “We’ll talk about various ways of getting more involved in parish life.

“But then we’ll have a series of five talks that are more catechetically oriented.

“Some will have a more eucharistic thrust, which I think is important for the period of mystagogy—the Eucharist is the center of our lives as Catholics.”

For instance, Father Patrick Beidelman, executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Worship and Evangelization, will offer a talk called “Putting Our Whole Heart into Our Celebration of the Holy Mass,” and Jeffries will speak on “The Eucharist: The Heart of Apologetics.”

Other talks “will go deeper into other topics we touch on in RCIA,” he said.

One of those talks will take a look at Catholic social teaching, led be two members of the archdiocesan Catholic Charities-Social Concerns ministry.

Father Vincent Lampert, exorcist for the archdiocese, will speak on “Exorcism: The Battle Against Satan and His Demons,” and the cantor for

St. Athanasius the Great Byzantine Church in Indianapolis will offer a talk on the Eastern Catholic Churches.

“These talks go another step, opening the horizon more to what’s in the Church and living the Catholic life,” said Jeffries.

While the first goal of this approach to mystagogy is catechesis for all who attend, a second goal emerged.

“As we began putting the list of topics together and finding the speakers, we began thinking, ‘Wouldn’t this be a great way to introduce the new members, those newly received, into the wider community as they continue to journey with us?’ ” said Father Riebe.

To encourage such “relationship building,” said Jeffries, the talks will be followed by a general “invitation to a local brewery or something to talk in a more comfortable, informal, social setting.”

He hopes the parish’s approach to mystagogy helps both new and existing Catholics “have a greater appreciation of their faith and helps them understand it better.

“I also hope that it’s something that will help people to meet our RCIA participants and give people in the parish an opportunity to come together” in the lifelong process of initiation into the mysteries of the Church.

(For time, dates, topics and speakers of Christ the King Parish’s Easter Speaker Series, see the weekly events calendar.)

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