Order of Christian Initiation of Adults (OCIA)

Your Invitation to Join Our Faith-Filled Community

Are you feeling called to become a part of the Catholic Church? At St. Francis Xavier Church, we open our doors wide to those seeking to embark on a journey of faith and fellowship. Our Order of Christian Initiation of Adults (OCIA) is the perfect starting point.

Begin Your Journey This Fall

Join us one evening every week at the Ministry Center on our campus next to Xavier Hall in the heart of Fort Myers, FL. Here, in a welcoming and supportive environment, you will uncover the rich tapestry of the Catholic faith, engage with timeless traditions, and foster a deep, personal connection with God.

Parish Campus Map


What is OCIA?

The process of joining the Roman Catholic Church is known as the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults (OCIA). Each year, adults seeking to join the Roman Catholic Church receive weekly support, encouragement and assistance from the OCIA team and from parish companions, catechists and guest speakers.

OCIA is a process which culminates with:

  • Baptism/Profession of Faith
  • Confirmation
  • First Eucharist at the Easter Vigil

OCIA Stages

The Order of Christian Initiation of Adults is a faith journey which consists of four distinct stages:

This is the time when someone who feels drawn to the expression of Christian values begins to formally ask questions of the faith community:

  • What do Catholics believe?
  • Why?
  • Who is God?
  • How is God active in my life?
  • What are the sacraments?

This period may last a few months or a number of years.

Sometimes inquirers realize that they are not ready or willing to belong to the Christian community. They leave with the blessing of their companions and catechists as they continue to search for spiritual meaning.

Others find that they are attracted to our way of life and are drawn to the person of Christ. Like the disciples of old, they wish to follow Jesus and move to the next stage of the journey, which is known as the Catechumenate.

This stage begins with the Rite of Acceptance. Those who enter this stage are claimed for Christ and marked with the sign of the cross. They are then called catechumens if they are unbaptized or candidates if they have already been baptized in another tradition.

This period of the OCIA is a time for the catechumens and candidates to deepen in faith and commitment to Christ. Although they are not yet able to share at the table of the Eucharist, they can participate in the Liturgy of the Word each Sunday. This stage of the OCIA usually lasts for several months until the Easter Vigil. It includes formal sessions on Catholic teaching and practice and is an opportunity for the individual to grow in prayer and to mature in faith.

With the support of community members, parish companions, godparents and catechists, the catechumens and candidates steadily conform their lives to Gospel values. They continue to deepen their relationship with Christ, and when they, with the guidance of their catechists, discern that they are ready, enter into the next stage of the catechumenate, Purification and Enlightenment.

This stage begins on the first Sunday of Lent with the Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion. In local parishes, catechumens inscribe their name in a book which is presented to the Bishop in a ceremony at the cathedral later that day.

At the Rite of Election the Bishop elects (chooses) the catechumens in the name of Christ to receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist at Easter. The Bishop also calls (exhorts) the candidates to continue growing in their faith as they prepare for Confirmation and Eucharist.

The next 40 days are intensive days of preparation to receive the sacraments at Easter. The local community accompanies the Elect (unbaptized) and Candidates (already baptized) by participating in the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Special rites of interior searching, known as the scrutinies, are celebrated with the elect and candidates. These take place on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent.

This period of the RCIA culminates at the Easter Vigil with baptism for those who are unbaptized, a profession of faith for those who are baptized, confirmation, and the reception of Eucharist. This completes the third stage of the journey.

This final stage of the OCIA is a period of rejoicing in the awareness of God’s presence by praying and eating at the banquet of the Eucharist. This stage concludes with the Feast of Pentecost where, through the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are sent into the world to do the work of the Lord. There is also an opportunity to share prayer and community with others in the parish by participating in ministries of service both within and outside of St. Francis Xavier Church.

Is OCIA Right For Me?

The OCIA process is designed for adults who are unbaptized or those who were baptized as infants but had little experience with regular church attendance. Individuals baptized in another Christian tradition who have little experience with the Roman Catholic tradition often find this process to be helpful in their discernment of becoming Roman Catholic.

If you are an adult who was baptized and active in another Christian tradition, you may want to discuss this process and any other available alternatives with a member of the OCIA Team. Contact the St. Francis Xavier Parish Office, 2133 Heitman St., Fort Myers, FL 33901, (239) 334-2161.

OCIA Parish Ministry


  • Are you looking for a way to live your faith?
  • Do you want to get more involved with parish life?

Our parish priests and the OCIA team are asking you to consider walking with one person who is on a journey of faith.

Companion volunteers welcome all new candidates to OCIA and our parish community by providing a brief overview of St. Francis Xavier’s mission and descriptions of the various ministries. You may wish to invite candidates to attend mass with you on the weekend. You will get to meet many new people and personally invite them into the life of our parish.

The time commitment for sponsors will average of an hour a week, which will occur on Wednesday nights. You may also wish to attend weekend Mass with the person discerning a call to be a Catholic Christian.

The process of joining the Roman Catholic Church is known as the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults – OCIA. Throughout the fall, our parish will be welcoming people inquiring into our faith into the catechumenate, and this is where companioning begins and continues to their reception into full membership in our church at the Easter vigil.

Can you spare at least one evening a year to participate in the parish OCIA Ministry as a guest catechist? OCIA catechists present topics that include the following areas:

  • The God Who Loves You
  • The Life of Prayer
  • The Sacraments
  • Salvation History
  • The Incarnation
  • The Life of Christ
  • The Trinity
  • The Four Marks of the Church
  • Scripture and Tradition
  • Mary the Mother of God
  • Natural Law and Commandments
  • Grace and Beatitudes
  • Virtues and Vices
  • Our Eternal Destiny
  • The Paschal Mystery

All of the presentations used in the OCIA have been developed over the years and include presentation materials, related articles and a bibliography. Additional catechists are needed to make these topics become alive to the OCIA candidates.

Your personal stories of faith combined with presentations on the Eucharist, Prayer, and Mary, etc. serve as a witness as to how the Living God is active in our lives.

One day all of us will stand before the Lord and He will ask us what we have done with the gifts He has given. One answer could be our work in spreading the Gospel by participation in the parish OCIA program.

Parishioners who have been through the marriage tribunal process are needed to counsel those seeking annulment of a previous marriage. Advocates provide support and answer questions using their experience as a guide.  They can assist in the preparation of tribunal forms and ensure they are properly completed.

Volunteers do not have to be either experts or saints – just regular folks willing to be present to another on a consistent basis over a period of time. This is a wonderful way to learn more about your faith, to get to know another person in the parish, to grow in your ability to talk a little about how you experience God in your everyday life.

If you are interested in discerning this very important ministry and offering your support to those God is calling, please contact  the St. Francis Xavier Office, 2133 Heitman Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901, (239) 334-2161.