Teenage Confirmation Process-Issues

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My 16 year old son has been going to confirmation classes for the past year with plans to be confirmed this spring. To date I don't believe he has learned anything from the youth organization at our church in virginia. He's attended all of the religious ed classes and went on the overnite retreat.

I went to Catholic School for 8 years and confirmation was acceptance of the Holy Spirit and a renewing of your Baptismal vows since you reached the age of reason.

I'm not sure what they are teaching now hence my question/concern/comparison. The Youth Director and Priest required the confirmation candidates to write a paragraph this summer on 2 topics. The boys were given the topic from a 1974 picture in Life magazine regarding the circumcision of girls in India as a rite of passage and how does that relate to confirmation.

I see no relationship and wrote our priest that I felt its inappropriate and had nothing to do with accepting the Holy spirit and Christ and to provide a different assignment.

Well I got blasted and am ready to leave the parish based on the disrespect given me.

SO....My question..for other parents with children being confirmed. Is this a 2 year process in your parish? What age are your children being confirmed...( I read that it can start at 7 yrs old vs my 17). Do you think I'm correct in telling the priest that its inappropriate? My son is being "held hostage" over writing this paragraph and I'm adamant that it has nothing to do with confirmation and will not give in...

To the point that I'll pull my entire family (6) out of the parish that they've been married, baptised, reconciled but yet to be confirmed!!!

Interested in similar situations/facts on confirmation experiences.


-- Parent of a Confirmation Candidate (bjmadden@yahoo.com), October 06, 2004


My kids haven't made their first communion yet, so I'll bump this to New Answers to invite comment.

-- Andy S ("ask3332004@yahoo.com"), October 06, 2004.

Hello Parent, I am a new convert to the Faith, but I have teen girls ages 15 and 13 (twins). I also have a 7 year old son. Our priest announced a few Sundays ago that any teen wishing to recieve confirmation in the spring who was in the 9th grade or higher should attend the full CCD class. All 3 of my teenagers will be confirmed this spring, but there are a few in the church that are as old as 17 and 18. As far as what they are learning.....Nothing like what yours seem to be. Our kids are basically going over doctrinal truths. They are using a book titled, "We Believe" A Survey of the Catholic Faith". My husband and I will also recieve confirmation in the spring and we are studying the same book, so we know exactly what mine are learning. It is a very good book ( I read ahead and finished mine.) that puts a clear perspective on the Catechism. Everything contained in it is cross- referenced to the Catechism and explains it quite clearly. I thought that was what faith classes were supposed to be. To study what we believe and to gain a clearer perspective of it. I will pray for your situation. God bless.

Thanks and glory be to God!

-- Suzanne (james-betsy@sbcglobal.net), October 06, 2004.

Dear Parent,

Unfortunately the situation you are in is not uncommon. All too many religious education programs these days, particularly those for adolescents/teens, including Confirmation programs, have little to do with the Catholic faith. Some of them are based on the "I'm ok, you're ok" mentality, where the kids spend their time doing pop psychology exercises, and finish the program tolerant of everyone and everything, and knowing nothing about their faith.

You are absolutely right in your reactions to this ludicrous writing assignment. I don't know if your priest is trying to appear avant-garde or what; but whatever his motive, he is pursuing it at the expense of Catholic teens, who have a right to expect that a Church-sponsored program will provide them with a solid foundation in the Holy Catholic Faith, not meaningless exercises in theoretical anthropology. If he really thought that a comparison of "rites of passage" would be of value, why not compare Confirmation to Jewish Bar Mitzvah, rather than requiring Catholic boys to write about the sexual mutilation of girls in pagan cultures? But even then, a sacrament of the Church is far more than a "rite of passage". It is a profound work of God. It sounds like this priest may have some problems in areas other than theology.

Changing parishes is a big step socially, but is really not such a big step from a religious perspective. That's the beauty of the Catholic Church - it is universal. If the quality of this parish's Confirmation program is any indication of the kind of teaching provided in the parish as a whole, I would look for a parish where my family can receive true Catholic formation. What you have run into is not "what the Church is teaching these days". It is just one more sad example of what the Church increasingly has to deal with these days - assaults on the faith from within, under the guise of religious formation.

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), October 06, 2004.

What age are your children being confirmed...( I read that it can start at 7 yrs old vs my 17).

My children were all around 8 years old when confirmed.

-- Brian Crane (brian.crane@cranemills.com), October 06, 2004.

I live in northern Virginia. The parishes around here are fairly solid and have good CCD programs. Perhaps you could send missives to friends or relatives up here for help - at least to help evangelize your boy.

It's important that he learn not just what the CCD book says, but what the CHURCH teaches and WHY. Not just that there is a sacrament called "Confirmation" but what it IS, what it's effects are (the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit), how it prepares one for adulthood in the faith (which means being willing to die for the faith), etc.

When I taught CCD I didn't pull any punches - and the DRE (a religious sister in habit) backed me up, as did the pastor (a Marine Corps chaplain).

It's vital to young boys and men to see the big picture - to realize that "the church" isn't the parish! That "the priesthood" isn't old "Fr. Bob" - that sacraments are not just rituals - you have to help them "see" the bigger reality.

There are many good youth organizations available in No. VA. that may help him. God bless

-- Joe (joestong@yahoo.com), October 06, 2004.

In my diocese it is required that the Confirmation candidate have a minimum of three years of religious instruction and be at least in the 8th grade if he is in a parish where the bishop comes to confirm every year, or be in the 6th, 7th, or 8th grade if he is in a parish where the bishop comes to confirm every three years. We have a diocescan Confirmation catechism which is very similar to the Baltimore Catechism. Each candidate is expected to know the material in this catechism very well prior to Confirmation. When the bishop comes to confer the Sacrament he randomly asks questions right out of this catechism during his homily. To prevent being embarrassed, the students spend a lot of time preparing for the big day.

-- Jack Sammon (romanrite@aol.com), October 06, 2004.

See if you can follow my logic.

1. Confirmation is recieving the Holy Spirit. 2. Confirmation is becoming a full, active member of the mission of Jesus Christ and his message. 3. Part of Jesus' message (and the mission of the Church) is helping your neighbor and those in need, (i.e. recognizing and becoming aware of injustice where you see it and doing something about it.) 4. Your neighbor includes those in pagan religions. 5. It is unjust to forcibly mutilate people against their will. 6. Therefore, Doesn't your religion command you to do something about injustice in the world? Confirmation is not a get-out-of-hell-free card. It is a symbol signifying your complete entrance into the Church, and your responsibilities of becoming such. This has everything to do with confirmation and the Holy Spirit.

-- Kate (dangerintheform@yahoo.com), October 27, 2004.

good logic kate, but flawed.

confirmation as a process is about learning, not confronting the world. being confirmed PREPARES you for such encounters, but they are NOT part of the lessons needed during the confirmation process.

Your logic is like saying 1) school prepares you for the real world 2) in the real world you get paychecks 3) therefore, you should be payed to go to school.

it just doesnt work that way

-- paul h (dontSendMeMail@notAnAddress.com), October 27, 2004.

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