RCIA, 18 Month Model (Recommended)

This is our recommended model for adult evangelisation and catechesis: A seven week enquiry course sometime between January and May; a period of mentoring, guided reading from the YouCat, and initiation into parish life over the summer; and then a 26 week period of catechesis and mystagoria from September to June the following year, with the Sacraments of Christian Initiation celebrated that Easter.

This model allows a rich and unrushed period of enquiry and catechesis for adults. The reality is that in many parishes the RCIA programme is squashed into six months between the autumn school term and Easter. This is not what the Church envisages and it doesn’t respond to the deepest needs of the participants.

This model allows for a genuine enquiry period, where people can hear the Gospel and come to know the life of the Church, without any commitment beyond their curiosity and desire to explore (the first seven Sycamore sessions).

Then a few months over the summer for the priest and catechists to mentor those who wish to go deeper: introducing them into the life of the parish community, inviting them to Sunday Mass, teaching them the basics of prayer, and doing some guided reading of the YouCat with them (the YouCat readings from the first seven Sycamore sessions).

Then the beginning of formal catechesis from September to Easter (eighteen meetings involving nine Sycamore sessions, alternating with the nine YouCat reading sessions).

And then eight meetings after Easter for the period of mystagogia (four Sycamore sessions alternating with the four YouCat reading sessions) where the newly baptised deepen their faith.

NB – you will need different leaders for the Enquiry Course and the RCIA because they overlap!

For the YouCat readings for each topic, see the individual Session Guides here.

(A) Seven Week Enquiry Course (sometime between Jan and May)

  • An enquiry course for anyone interested to learn about the Catholic Christian faith. No commitment required, beyond a desire to explore questions of faith together. Open to anyone.
  • Using the normal Sycamore methodology. See the Planning pages here. Or through a remote group. See the Remote pages here.
  • Going through the first seven Sycamore sessions (see the complete list below), from Session 1 (the Search for Happiness) to Session 7 (the Gift of Faith).
  • But without using the YouCat readings…

(B) Summer Period of Reflection (May to Sept)

  • For those who wish to continue exploring after the Enquiry Course
  • Individuals meet regularly with the parish priest or one of the lead catechists for reflection, accompaniment, mentoring, etc. They are given some introductory reading about faith and prayer.
  • They are invited to attend Sunday Mass, and introduced to a Catholic understanding of prayer and the liturgy.
  • They are actively introduced to parishioners who can befriend and support them.
  • Systematic reading of the YouCat, using the seven set of readings that go with the seven sessions from the Enquiry Group they have already done (Sessions 1 to 7). See the “Using the YouCat” page here. For the YouCat readings for each topic, see the individual Session Guides here.
  • The YouCat reading can be done individually, followed by regular individual discussion with the priest or lead catechists.
  • Or the reflection can be done in a group, so people are coming together every week or two to discuss their reading. See the Sycamore Plus advice here, about how to structure a YouCat session.

(C) Formal RCIA Programme (Sept to Easter)

  • For those who are preparing for the Sacraments of Initiation next Easter. And only for those who have completed the Enquiry Course and the Summer Period of Reflection above. An exception might be committed non-Catholic Christians who are joining the RCIA at this stage to prepare for Reception into Full Communion at Easter, and who already have a good grounding in the Christian faith.
  • Eighteen meetings in total: nine Sycamore sessions (Session 8 “the Power of Prayer” to Session 16 “Forgiveness, Healing and Mission”), alternating with nine YouCat sessions, making a total of eighteen meetings.
  • See the advice here about how to alternate between a Sycamore session (to introduce the topic and get discussion going) and a YouCat session (to deepen the catechesis through reading and catechetical discussion).
  • A possible timetable is to have ten meetings before Christmas (Sessions 8 to 12 + the five YouCat meetings), and eight meetings after Christmas (Sessions 13 to 16 + the four YouCat meetings).
  • Extra meetings at the end of Lent to prepare people for the celebration of the sacraments.

(D) Period of Mystagogia (May to July)

  • Eight meetings: the last four Sycamore sessions alternating with four YouCat sessions (Session 17 “the Christian Vocations” to Session 20 “Mary and the Hope of Heaven”).
  • Extra follow up meetings if required.
  • Transition into other formation programmes or service programmes to sustain the members as a group if they wish.



For the YouCat readings, see the individual Session Guides here.


(1) THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS [“Film 1” in Series: click here to view]

The impossibility of sitting still. What is happiness? How to press the pause button.


(2) THE EXISTENCE OF GOD [“Film 2” in Series: click here to view]

Why bother thinking about religion? Five reasons not to believe in God. Arguments for the existence of God?


(3) A GOD WHO SPEAKS? [“Film 3” in Series: click here to view]

The hiddenness of God. When God broke the silence. Discovering the face of God.


(4) WHO IS JESUS? [“Film 4” in Series: click here to view]

He came to bring life to the world. The Saving Death of Jesus. The light of the Resurrection.


(5) THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE CHURCH [“Film 5” in Series: click here to view]

How the Holy Spirit can change your life. No one gets into heaven alone. Why we need signs, symbols and sacraments.


(6) THE BIBLE [“Film 6” in Series: click here to view]

What is the bible? Can we trust the bible? How the bible can change your life.


(7)  THE GIFT OF FAITH [“Film 7” in Series: click here to view]

What is faith? Are Christians just stupid or are there good reasons to believe? How to take a step of faith.


(8) THE POWER OF PRAYER [“Film 8” in Series: click here to view]

What is prayer? Does prayer make a difference? How to pray.


(9) FINDING TRUE FREEDOM [“Film 9” in Series: click here to view]

Is there such a thing as right and wrong? Where can we find moral guidance? How do you discover your true identity?


(10) THE MEANING OF LOVE [“Film 10” in Series: click here to view]

What is love? How to love your neighbour. Knowing the love of God.


(11) THE LIGHT OF CHRIST [“Film 11” in Series: click here to view]

The Christian Creed. The Light of Christ. The Holy Trinity.


(12) CREATION, FALL, SALVATION [“Film 12” in Series: click here to view]

A – The goodness of creation. B – Suffering and sin. C – The gift of salvation.


(13) THE COMMUNITY OF THE CHURCH [“Film 13” in Series: click here to view]

Why do we need the Church? The special place of the Catholic Church. Being Catholic today.


(14) THE SACRAMENTS OF BAPTISM AND CONFIRMATION [“Film 14” in Series: click here to view]

The power of the sacraments and the liturgy. How baptism can change your life. Confirmation and the gift of the Holy Spirit.


(15) THE HOLY EUCHARIST [“Film 15” in Series: click here to view]

The meaning of the Mass. The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.


(16) FORGIVENESS, HEALING AND MISSION [“Film 16” in Series: click here to view]

Forgiveness and the Sacrament of Confession. Healing and the Sacrament of the Sick. Christian mission and the call to share our faith.


(17) THE CHRISTIAN VOCATIONS [“Film 17” in Series: click here to view]

The meaning of vocation. Marriage and family life. Ordination and consecrated life.


(18) THE SOCIAL TEACHING OF THE CHURCH [“Film 18” in Series: click here to view]

The dignity of the human person and the right to life. Christian teaching about family and society. Speaking the truth and following conscience.


(19) HOW TO PRAY [“Film 19” in Series: click here to view]

The amazing adventure of prayer. Four basic ways of praying. Prayers and devotions to help you through the day.


(20) MARY AND THE HOPE OF HEAVEN [“Film 20” in Series: click here to view]

Death, judgment, and our longing for eternal life. Holiness, the saints, and our hope for heaven. What Catholics believe about the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Please note that the accompanying “Film Number” (e.g. “Film 13”) and Session Number (e.g. “Session 13”) refer to the complete list of Sycamore films and not to the order of each module in this course.

You can find the complete list of Sycamore films here and the complete list of Session Guides here. The “Film Number” and “Session Number” is a fixed code number so you know which film is being referred to, even if it appears in different places in different courses.

If you are using Sycamore as a central part of your sacramental preparation and catechesis, see the page here about Sycamore and sacramental preparation.

If you are using the YouCat readings as part of your course, see the page here about using the YouCat.

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