The preparation for and celebration of the Rite of Confirmation is an exciting time in the life of St. Jerome Parish community. At whatever age candidates celebrate this sacrament, many people gather to offer care and support. Everyone, including candidates, their families, their peers, and the entire parish community are affected and included because Confirmation is a CELEBRATION OF THE WHOLE PARISH.
The history of the sacrament of Confirmation reveals a variety of opinions and practices about both the theology and preparation for the sacrament of Confirmation.
One form of the sacrament is the post baptismal anointing followed by Eucharist, which seals the entire process of initiation. This is the form that is found in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and is the proper order according to church law and ancient tradition.
Another form of the sacrament is rooted in our church history. It is the practice of having the bishop ratify baptisms over which he did not preside. Because infant baptism is the ordinary practice in the church today, the separate rite of Confirmation is celebrated. This separate Rite of Confirmation began in the 11th Century.
Parish communities celebrate Confirmation at varied ages, from the age of discretion up to and including adolescence. The National Conference of U.S. Catholic Bishops decided that, "the sacrament of Confirmation in the Latin rite shall be conferred between the age of discretion, which is about the age of seven, and sixteen years of age..."
St. Jerome Parish children who have received First Eucharist may enter into the preparation process because at the very center of the sacrament of Confirmation lies the theology: in this sacrament we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Conferring the Holy Spirit is central to the sacrament. The candidates for Confirmation believe that God gives them the fullness of the Holy Spirit and it will make a difference in their lives. That is why we choose to celebrate this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit.
The purpose of receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit is to help us to be more like Christ in bearing witness to the world. As Jesus proclaimed, quoting the prophet Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and has anointed me to bring good tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Lk 4:18-19.)
Openness to the Spirit, being more like Christ, and witnessing the gospel in our daily lives is emphasized in our Confirmation preparation.
In order for parents, the primary educators of their children in matters of faith and morals, to assume responsibility for the formation of their children in the sacramental life of the church we at St. Jerome involve parents in the preparation for Confirmation. As stated in the National Directory for Catechesis, "Dioceses and parishes should present catechesis for the Sacrament of Confirmation that...Ensures that parents and sponsors are involved in the catechetical preparation of the children for Confirmation." (36.A.2.) When children and adults come together for catechesis, families develop the ability to share their experiences of God with one another. Children then experience Confirmation not as an isolated incident, but as a celebration of God's presence within the entire church community.
The Rite of Confirmation presumes the candidate was baptized as an infant and raised within a Christian Catholic household of faith. In the years between the celebration of Baptism and Confirmation, the rite presumes ample opportunities for catechesis (instruction about Catholic Christian beliefs), so that one may be centered on Jesus Christ and the hope of bringing about the kingdom of God according to the age and ability of the child. Preparation for Confirmation is not a time to learn or review all the Christian Catholic teaching. That learning is a life-long process.
The candidate must already be immersed in catechesis and worship on a regular basis before beginning preparation for the sacrament of Confirmation.
Children wishing to become candidates for Confirmation must meet the following criteria:
|1.||Are participating weekly in the Sunday Eucharist.|
|2.||Are participating in the parish stewardship process according to age and ability.|
|3.||Have successfully completed two consecutive years of parish faith formation programs, (PSR, Catholic Parochial School or the Parish Home Study) and be currently enrolled and participating in one of these options.|
|4.||Have successfully completed the preparation programs for First Penance and First Eucharist.|
Preparation will include: