Some of the inquirers become firm in their desire for initiation and decide that they would like to begin more formal study of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. They are admitted into the next step through a special ceremony called the Rite of Acceptance.
This is the first time the inquirers publicly declare their faith before the parish community. Because no one likes to do something like that on their own, each inquirer is accompanied by a sponsor. Sponsors provide support and companionship for the rest of the RCIA process.
After the rite, the inquirers are called catechumens. This name indicates that they are learning the teachings of the Church and beginning to accept Catholic tradition and practices.
The time spent as a catechumen will vary from person to person. The bishops of the United States have suggested that this catechumenate period is to last for at least one year or longer.
During this period the Liturgy of the Word is celebrated weekly at Mass and a more formal study of scripture and the Catholic Church teaching is also continued weekly.