1st Semester Tuesday evening    Crosslisted as DR2/3350Y   (Min. No. 8)


“Christians are made, not born” (Tertullian). This unit explores with ecumenical sensitivity the origin, history and meaning of the processes involved in persons becoming Christians. The unit begins by briefly exploring insights drawn from cultural anthropology and ritual studies regarding the significance attached to initiation. On this basis, the unit then follows two lines of inquiry. The first represents an historical survey, charting the practices of Christian initiation in the early Church and the subsequent emergence of the three separate sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. The second line of inquiry investigates the sacraments of initiation as they stand in the post-Vatican II  Catholic Church, paying particular attention to the RCIA, continuing debates surrounding different approaches to the sacraments of initiation and, finally, the significance of the Eucharist as both the high point of the journey of faith for persons joining the Church, and as the repeatable and ongoing sacrament of Christian initiation.


Level 2:         CT1000Y
Level 3:         CT1000Y  and an extra 30 points of Systematic Theology at Level 2


Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:

  1. explain the cultural significance attached to initiation as a ritual process
  2. identify key historical developments in the emergence and evolution of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist as sacraments of initiation
  3. articulate major theological insights regarding Christian initiation following the Second Vatican Council, especially in relation to the RCIA
  4. demonstrate skills in reading and analyzing key texts and rites associated with the sacraments of initiation
  5. discuss the place of the Eucharist in the church’s sacraments of initiation
  6. (Level 3) explain debates surrounding the understanding and celebration of the sacraments of initiation in the contemporary Church.


Level 2: 1500 word essay (40%); 2500 word essay (60%)
Level 3: 2000 word essay (40%); 3000 word essay (60%)


Johnson, Maxwell. The Rites of Christian Initiation: Their Evolution and Interpretation. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999.

Lysik, David, ed. The Liturgy Documents: A Parish Resource. 4th ed. Chicago, IL: Liturgy Training Publications, 2004.

Mazza, Enrico. The Celebration of the Eucharist: The Origin of the Rite and the Development of its Interpretation. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999.

Mick, Lawrence. Living Baptism Daily. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2004.

Morris, Thomas. The RCIA Transforming the Church – A Resource for Pastoral Implementation. New York/Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1989, 1997.

O’Loughlin, Frank. Christ Present in the Eucharist. Strathfield, NSW: St Paul Publications, 2000.

Osborne, Kenan. The Christian Sacraments of Initiation. New York: Paulist Press,1987.

Turner, Paul. Confirmation: The Baby in Solomon’s Court. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1993

Wood, Susan K. One Baptism: Ecumenical Dimensions of the Doctrine of Baptism. Collegeville, MN: Michael Glazier, 2009.

Lecturer:    GAVIN BROWN