January 22, 2017

Friends,

One of the most controversial sacraments is Confirmation because many people (even in authority in the Church) differ on the meaning of the sacrament and when it should be celebrated or administered.
Some dioceses celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation at the time the children are baptized. In the early Church there were 3 sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation which were received when someone became Christian. We have to remember that these were mostly adults who came to believe in Christ and wanted to enter the Church. As years went on, we divided the 3 sacraments; Baptism as infants, Eucharist when a child reached the age of reason (7 or 8 years old) and Confirmation in the 7th or 8th grade. In recent years the Archdiocese of Boston parishes have celebrated Confirmation usually between sophomore or junior year of high school. It is hoped that by that time, with the support of family and their parish, a young person would want to Confirm what her/his parents and godparents professed for them at their Baptism as an infant.

Unfortunately, because of family commitments and priorities as well as teenagers need to assert their own will as they become more mature, the privilege and joy of celebrating the sacrament of Confirmation can become a huge controversy in some families.

Naturally we hope that our families are Church-going and that our children have been coming to religious education regularly from grades 1 through 10. Some attend Catholic schools and receive their faith formation there until it comes time for Confirmation preparation for which Catholic High Schools do not take responsibility. Parish Confirmation programs differ greatly depending on those responsible for religious education and faith formation in the parish. In the past 3 years we have made many changes in our own program hoping to make it stronger and more inviting for our teenagers. “One size does not fit all.”

Presently we have a 2-year program for grades 9 and 10 and we attempt to get them involved in discussions about how their faith in God and love for the Church affects their decision-making in areas such as social justice, racial relations, drug and alcohol use and abuse, domestic violence, respect for life, etc.

Some Catholics see the Church as having Confirmation in high school as a way of keeping young people in “CCD.” I see it as an opportunity to continue a valuable relationship with teenagers as we learn from each other’s life experience. Naturally I want the Church to benefit from their presence and enthusiasm as they continue to realize how important Christ is in their lives.

How sad that such a gift can cause so much disruption within families between parents and children.
Families have so many responsibilities.

We have a wonderful group of teenagers this year who are preparing to celebrate the Sacrament on April 28th. We will be offering 4 classes during lent for adults who have never received this Sacrament and would like to do so with us on April 28th. Tell your friends!

Enjoy Life!
Fr. Ron Coyne

 

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