Formation for Mission

Sycamore - a new suggested resource for RCIA


Bishop Philip and the Formation for Mission team would like to recommend a new resource, Sycamore, for use in RCIA. The Diocese of Portsmouth has worked together with Fr Stephen Wang to produce a series of ten videos.


All quotes are from the Sycamore website where you can find out more about the programme:


“Sycamore is a new programme of evangelisation and catechesis for use in parishes, chaplaincies, schools and other settings. It consists of ten films that explore some of the core questions often put to Christian believers: How can I find true happiness? What is the meaning of life? Does God exist? Who is Jesus Christ? It deals with topics such as the Holy Spirit, the Church, the Bible, the Christian Tradition, faith, prayer, love, vocation, and the purpose of life. People are invited to learn about the Christian faith, and to share their own ideas and questions without fear of being judged.”


These videos are designed to be a tool for “primary evangelisation”; in other words, they are geared towards those with no Christian background or little Christian commitment.


They are ideal for the first stage of the RCIA process, often known as the “enquiry” or “evangelisation” stage. This is the stage of the process where the parish invites anyone who would like to discover more about Jesus Christ and being his disciple to “come and see” (John 1:39). During this stage, people are invited to meet with others who are also on a spiritual search and to hear, perhaps for the first time, the Gospel message, or kerygma, of Jesus’s life, death and resurrection. They will discover what this means in the lives of individual Catholics, through hearing testimonies and experiencing the love, service and witness of the community.


“The key to running the programme is the combination of hospitality, friendship, a clear presentation of Christian teaching, and space for honest discussion; with the provision of good food; with a supportive prayer team in the background; all in the context of a loving Christian community.”


How can the films be used?

One way you could use the films is to run an hour-­‐long session. Start with welcome and a simple prayer. Each film is designed in four sections. Each section includes some teaching, some short interviews and a discussion question. The film is then paused to allow people to discuss the question. After a short discussion time, you re-­start the film for the next section.


“Sycamore is designed in this way so that it can be used with minimal effort and minimal planning: the input, the discussion questions and the vox pops are all part of the package; and the videos are all available free of charge to download or to watch online.”


You could end the session with a personal testimony from a parishioner, the story of how they encountered Christ and what he means to them.


Another way the sessions could be run is to start the evening with a meal. This is an informal and friendly way of ‘breaking the ice’, helping build community, and making guests feel welcomed.



Follow the films for each of the ten sessions.


SUBTITLES: To view English subtitles while you are watching online, click the [CC] button on the bottom right of this video, and select "English". But to download the video with English subtitles embedded for future use, please click on the DOWNLOAD VIDEO link below each film, and follow this links from these new pages, OR: see the complete list of subtitled films at the Vimeo site here:


The Ten Sessions:

1. The search for happiness 

Download video


2. Does God exist?

Download video


3. Who is Jesus Christ?

Download video


4. The Holy Spirit in our lives

Download video


5. Why do we need the Church?

Download video


6. Can we trust the Bible and the Christian tradition?

Download video


7. The gift of faith

Download video


8. The power of prayer

Download video


9. The meaning of love 

Download video


10. How do I discover the purpose of my life? 

Download video


Visit the Sycamore website where you can find out more about the programme.



A ‘pilot’ version of Sycamore was run in September 2014 – December 2014 at St John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth as part of their RCIA process. One of the team members said:


“We used Sycamore to introduce a group of about 18 people to the Catholic faith. Most of them had little or no Christian background. I love how these short videos announce the Gospel message, the ‘kerygma’, in an attractive and clear way. We found Sycamore to be extremely effective in helping those who were curious about Christianity to become open to a relationship with Christ. The structure of each video encourages the building of community within the group, especially through the discussion questions. In my view, Sycamore is the perfect starting-­‐point for evangelisation, and can be a springboard to deeper catechesis.”


For more information on Sycamore or the RCIA, contact the Formation for Mission team:




Sr Hyacinthe Defos du Rau OP, Dominican Sisters of St Joseph, St Dominic’s Priory, Shirley Holms Road, Lymington, SO41 8NH. Tel. 01590 681 874.

  • email:  ffm @  

Subscribe to Portsmouth Diocese E-news
Keep up to date with what’s happening in the diocese. The diocesan e-news comes out on Tuesday most weeks – latest events, photos, videos.

(Under the terms of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the information provided on this form will be held in confidence and used for the purpose of diocesan communications and no other purpose).