1. The requisite preparations for baptism and entry into the RC Church and also
2. A reaffirmation and clarification of the tenets of faith and history of the RC Church, which I had learnt in daily Catechism classes from 1956 to 1968 and in Bible Knowledge which I took as a subject in the Junior Cambridge (F3) and Senior Cambridge (F5) examination in 1964 and 1966.
As requisite preparations for baptism RCIA serve a useful purpose, generally, in ensuring the candidates for baptism know what they are getting into and hopefully, that those who enter the Church stay in the Church! For reaffirmation and clarification of the tenets of faith of the RC Church, they were useful for me, personally, in so far as to refresh my memories of Catechisms learnt 45 years ago and to reaffirm my belief in the basic tenets of the RC Faith. Although then and since, I never go to the stage of requesting to be baptized, I believed. It has been good and useful to revisit the teachings of the Church, re-learnt that the basic tenets of the Holy Catholic Church are encapsulated in the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed (“I believe in God the Father Almighty…. I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and life of the world to come”).
I learnt new terminology (‘reconciliation’ and ‘rites of the sick’ instead of ‘confession’ and ‘extreme unction’). And had the concepts of purgatory and limbo clarified (Jesus ‘descended into hell’ i.e. going into limbo to bring up the good, hitherto languishing in limbo, before rising on the 3rd day).
As for whether RCIA has made me a better person, I would only go so far as to say it has made me more aware of my human foibles, in general, and my sins vis a vis the Church doctrines, in particular. I view RCIA, culminating in baptism, as only a means to an end rather the end itself: a means to commencement of healing of the soul while a constant struggle continues till death against sin; lapses and sinning, repentance/contrition and forgiveness and grace and the cycle would go on. I have always been mindful and will continue to be mindful of being aware, like the Publican, of being a sinner and seeking forgiveness, and to avoid the spiritual complacency/hypocrisy of the Pharisee (my favorite parable).
May God bless and protects us as we walk this journey of faith. And my thanks to the Bishop for the Baptism and Confirmation and to other priests and nuns, to my sponsor John and to Raymond, Suzanna, the 2 Cecilias, Alban and the other facilitators of the RCIA for their patience and persistent encouragement to me and my fellow catechumens.