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The National Gathering on Christian Initiation™ invites parish leaders, initiation ministers, and regional or diocesan trainers to come together to explore the theoretical and practical aspects of initiation ministry. Through interactive sessions, meetings, and prayer opportunities, participants will understand more deeply that the vision of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is the vision of the parish as a community of disciples.

The National Gathering on Christian Initiation™ will have two tracks. Parish Leaders and Initiation Ministers will deepen and enrich their work as they gain practical skills, discuss common challenges, and share best practices. Pre-conference distance-learning sessions will be available for new ministers and those interested in exploring the basics of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Regional or Diocesan Trainers will explore and discuss practical strategies for implementing effective training and formation in their local communities.

What's New This Year

  • Hands-On Skills Training: Preparing Catechetical Sessions, Facilitating Mystagogical Reflections
  • Model Catechumenate Session: Liturgy and Catechesis in the Parish
  • Brainstorming Diocesan Collaborations
  • Spanish-language Discussion Groups and Handouts
Learn more about the 2018 National Gathering on Christian Initiation™ in our detailed Registration Booklet .


Registration for the 2018 National Gathering on Christian Initiation™ has been extended!

General Registration, by June 1, 2018         $250

July 4th Opening Reception and Fireworks on the Riverwalk         $30 (SOLD OUT)
Optional. Includes an open bar.

Registration is also available by mail. Please download, print, and send in the form found in our registration brochure to LTP at 3949 South Racine Ave, Chicago, IL 60609.

A limited number of rooms are available at the Sheraton Grand Chicago hotel at a discounted rate of $154.00 per night. This rate is available for those who book before June 6, 2018 for the evenings of July 3rd - July 6th. A limited number of rooms may be offered at this rate for additional nights, based on hotel availability. To reserve a room at the Sheraton Grand Chicago Hotel, please call 312-464-1000 and mention NGCI (National Gathering on Christian Initiation) or LTP (Liturgy Training Publications) or visit

All cancellations and requests for refunds must be submitted in writing (letter, fax, or e-mail) by Friday, June 1, 2018 for a full refund or by Monday, June 18, 2018 for a 75% refund. Cancellation requests after Monday, June 18, 2018 will not receive a refund.

The Theme for 2018 is To Emmaus and Back: Liturgy and Catechesis

The disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus recognized him in the breaking of bread, but they needed to be catechized first. With their hearts and eyes opened by Scripture and careful teaching, they could see the Risen Lord. Then they joyfully raced back to Jerusalem to share the good news. Those involved in initiation ministry walk that same Paschal journey with catechumens and candidates year after year. The theme for the 2018 National Gathering on Christian Initiation™, To Emmaus and Back: Liturgy and Catechesis, invites parish and diocesan leaders to reflect on this journey and on the essential bond between liturgy and catechesis, specifically in the process of Christian initiation. Those who attend the NGCI will be challenged and invigorated to consider the many ways in which “catechesis both precedes the liturgy and springs from it” (National Directory for Catechesis, 33).

Goals of the Gathering

  • Participants will grow to appreciate the inseparable bond between liturgy and catechesis in the initiation process.
  • Participants will understand the importance of mystagogical reflections throughout the catechumenal process
  • Participants will consider the ways in which liturgical catechesis forms the Christian community for mission
  • Participants will explore the skills needed to practice what Pope Francis calls “the art of accompaniment.”


The National Gathering on Christian Initiation™ will have two tracks. Parish Leaders and Initiation Ministers will deepen and enrich their work as they gain practical skills, discuss common challenges, and share best practices. Regional or Diocesan Trainers will explore and discuss practical strategies for implementing effective training and formation in their local communities. The two groups will separate twice a day for deeper conversation as they focus on the needs and challenges of parish ministry and diocesan training and formation.

NGCI 2018 Schedule


The 2018 NGCI Team

Each year, a different team of presenters will work together with an LTP representative to plan the major presentations and breakout sessions of the event. Team members have been invited, not only because of their understanding of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and the Church’s mission of evangelization, but also because of their vast parish and diocesan experience. As a true collaboration, the individual gifts and ministerial experience of each team member will shape the NGCI experience.


Donna Eschenauer

Donna M. Eschenauer

Donna M. Eschenauer, PHD, served in pastoral ministry for more than twenty-two years in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, as a religious educator, liturgist, and director of the catechumenate. Currently she is associate dean and associate professor of pastoral theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary and College in New York, where she teaches “RCIA: Theology and Practice,” among other courses. She is the author of The Role of the Coordinator in Christian Initiation: A Pastoral and Practical Guide (LTP, 2017) and has had several articles published in Pastoral Liturgy®, and Catechumenate: A Journal of Christian Initiation.

Why is the National Gathering on Christian Initiation™ important?

“Christian initiation is important to the life of the Church. As we anticipate the thirtieth anniversary of the RCIA, it is a special opportunity to come together and renew our enthusiasm for the Church's vision of the Rite.”

Why is “now” the time to reinvigorate and invest in the process of Christian initiation?

“As we approach the thirtieth anniversary of the RCIA, it is my hope that initiation ministers will take Pope Francis seriously when he says, we “...cannot leave things as they presently are” (The Joy of the Gospel, 25). We need to look at the Rite with a new enthusiasm and recognize how we can implement it according to its original expectation.”


Patricia Hughes

Patricia Hughes, DMIN, began her ministry in the Church as a parish organist. She earned an undergraduate degree in elementary education, a master of arts in pastoral theology from Loyola University (Chicago), and a master of divinity and a doctor of ministry from the Catholic Theological Union (Chicago). She has served as director of music ministry and liturgy in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, and has taught undergraduate and graduate students. Currently the director of the Office of Worship for the Diocese of Dallas, she previously directed the Worship Office for the Diocese of Grand Rapids (Michigan), and served as director of worship for the Cathedral of the Assumption (Louisville, Kentucky). She serves on the boards of the Southwest Liturgical Conference (FDLC Region 10), Sacred Liturgy Ministries (Portland, OR), and Mayslake Ministries (Chicago). She is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy and the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. Dr. Hughes writes “Worship Committee Agenda,” a regular column in Pastoral Liturgy®, published by Liturgy Training Publications.

Why is the National Gathering on Christian Initiation™ important?

“There are only three reasons to miss the second annual NGCI in Chicago this July: if you have evangelized everyone in your parish, if everyone in your diocese has perfected mystagogical reflection, and if you are weary of vibrant, practical, life-giving presenters for the RCIA process.”

Why is it necessary for diocesan offices to collaborate in the ministry of Christian initiation?

“Wherever the responsibility for the RCIA process rests in a diocesan plan, catechesis and worship should not only shake hands, but they need to be hugging each other to shape the RCIA process for their parishes. The benefits for evangelization can increase exponentially if there's a rich, collaborative spirit that the diocesan offices initiate.”

Fr. David Loftus

Fr. David Loftus

Fr. David Loftus is pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Northridge, CA. He served for ten years at the Archdiocesan Office of Religious Education as coordinator for adult faith formation and for both basic and advanced catechist formation. A graduate of both All Hallows College, Dublin, and Boston College, Fr. Loftus has a passion for working with adults engaged in exploring their faith. He has presented at conferences and consulted with parish staffs and diocesan offices in the United States and abroad. His ministry continues to be informed and shaped by his experiences at national, diocesan, and parochial levels.

How does the story of the Journey to Emmaus rouse your heart and spark your imagination around initiation ministry?

“The Emmaus Story sets my heart on fire for all ministry in the Church. It is a paradigmatic narrative in which Jesus models sacred listening as they tell of their experiences and sacred instruction as he does a little theological reflection with them, and shares his insights from the scriptures. Lived human experience is brought into conversation with the faith tradition of the travelers on the road, and it leads, ultimately, to the recognition of the real presence of Jesus in our lives. In turn, the fears of the disciples are banished, they get back on the road, even though evening approaches, and they make their way to the Upper Room to proclaim the truth they have come to know with certainty. They simply can't contain themselves. They themselves have been brought to a deeper conversion, a deeper turning of their hearts into their relationship with Jesus. As they share this experience, their ardo, their passion, ignites the flame of faith in others who hear them.

Listening to the stories of those who journey in faith to the point of entering the catechumenate is always a humbling and hugely enlivening experience. My own faith is fanned into flame and my spirit refreshed and renewed as I listen to fellow pilgrims narrate their life's experience in light of their experience of God's saving power at work in their lives.”

What is your greatest joy in initiation ministry?

“Sharing of stories of lived faith,
inviting people to join me in the font
pouring oil on those being confirmed.”

Michael Ruzicki

Michael Ruzicki

Michael Ruzicki is the training and events manager at Liturgy Training Publications and the director of music for Notre Dame de Chicago Parish. Before arriving at LTP five years ago, he served as a team member of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, a parish pastoral associate for liturgy, and coordinator of adult and sacramental formation and the director of the archdiocesan music ministry for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He is the author of Guide for Training Initiation Ministers: An Introduction to the RCIA (LTP, 2018).

How would you describe the relationship between liturgy and catechesis?

“What are we talking about when we consider vibrant liturgy? A solid proclamation of the Word, a lavish use of our symbols, intentional ritual gestures, dynamic preaching, spirit-filled music, a comfort with prolonged silence, and an authentic sense of welcome and hospitality. Now add an assembly that has spiritually prepared for the liturgy and reflected on its impact and meaning following its celebration. How can this not catechize? It is crucial for those in parish leadership and initiation ministry to maximize on the inherent bond between catechesis and liturgy. If the catechist asked, “how can I be more liturgical” and the liturgist asked, “how can I be more catechetical” and the pastor provided the resources and atmosphere for this plan forward, they would be working together to form disciples for today's world.”

What are you looking forward to at the National Gathering on Christian Initiation™?

“After last year's NGCI, I'm looking forward to another “Emmaus” experience with fellow initiation ministers-a chance to share stories, walk together, intrepret the Word, and break bread together. Like the two disciples who encountered Jesus after his resurrection, the NGCI provides me with the excitement and nourishment to continue the journey of ministry. How many other opportunities do we have to gather with “RCIA folks” from all around the country? I look forward to hearing how others are doing things in their parishes: How are liturgies celebrated? What does catechesis look like and feel like? How are they keeping hearts aflame?”