FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FROM PARENTS
What does the Church ask of parents in sacrament preparation?
The Church views the role of parents in the religious formation of their children as both a privilege and an obligation. When you presented your child to the Church for Baptism, you were distinctly reminded that you have the responsibility to “bring [your child] up in the practice of the faith” [Rite of Baptism 56] This privilege and obligation extends to all sacramental preparation.
What is the appropriate age for the Sacrament of Confirmation?
According to the official documents of the Church, the age for Confirmation and First Eucharist is the same. The Code of Canon Law states “Confirmation is to be conferred on the faithful about the age of discretion” (Canon 891). On August 31, 2001, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops decreed the age of conferring the Sacrament of Confirmation in the United States to be between the age of discretion (about age 7) and about 16 years of age. What this means is that within the age parameters set forth, each local bishop may determine his own diocesan policy regarding age for Confirmation. For this reason, a variety of practices in this regard are found throughout the different dioceses in the United States.
How do I know if my child is ready for Confirmation?
If a baptized child of catechetical age is growing up in a home where the faith of parents is expressed in personal prayer, regular worship with a parish community, and in a life lived in accordance with Gospel values, then that child is ready. A child’s readiness for initiation is not only a matter of religious instruction. The purpose of the sacrament preparation program is to help the children and parents prepare for the particular Sacrament of Christian Initiation they will celebrate.
Preparation for and celebration of the Sacraments of Christian Initiation in no way imply Christian maturity or “completion,” but rather they celebrate an individual’s full incorporation into the Church, the Body of Christ. Continued catechesis and spiritual growth are integral to the lifelong process of coming to Christian maturity and faith.
My child is reluctant about being confirmed. What can I do?
First of all, you need to talk with your child about why they are feeling reluctant. If your child is questioning their faith, don not panic—this is a normal part of growing in faith. Most young people are confirmed, as they were baptized, into their parents’ religious tradition. However, before a person can truly own their faith, they need to ask questions. A good Confirmation program will not only respect your child’s questions, but also welcome their critical thinking.
As a parent, help your child see the difference that faith makes in your own life. Talk about your own faith journey and what belonging to the Catholic Church and your parish means to you. Introduce your child to role models who faithfully witness to their faith in Christ, and help your child see how faith comes to life when we live it out in service to others.
What is a Confirmation name?
Confirmation candidates may decide to choose a Confirmation name, perhaps a saint’s name or biblical hero. The choosing of an additional name is not necessary, but it must be a Christian name. In fact, today the Church encourages Confirmation candidates to use their baptismal name. Because Confirmation is the completion of our Baptism, it is an opportunity to reaffirm our first step of initiation and can serve to strengthen the connection between these two sacraments by using the baptismal name. Candidates will be asked to explore the life of their saint and find out what qualities and virtues they may want to imitate in their own lives.
What role does a sponsor play?
A sponsor is a role model in the faith. For this reason, the Church asks that a sponsor be around 16 years of age, be fully initiated in the Church (that is, has celebrated the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist), and be a practicing member of the Church. He or she does not have to be the same gender as the Confirmation candidate. The sponsor may not be the parent of the child. In addition, the sponsor is to serve as a witness of the faith for the Candidate. Their presence at the Confirmation celebration is a public proclamation of the Candidate’s readiness to become a fully initiated member of the Church. This relationship ideally continues throughout the Confirmand’s life. The sponsor may be the Baptismal sponsor. There may only be one sponsor.
How does this year of Sacramental Preparation differ from the previous years of Religious Education?
This year serves as a unique time and process in the development of the Candidate’s faith development. Because the Candidate is committing to a deeper relationship with God, the Christ, and the Holy Spirit in particular, three areas will be the foci of this year’s instruction. The goals of this year will include:
Growth in personal prayer and reflection about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Opportunities for both prayer and reflection will be given to the Candidates both in class and at weekly Sunday Mass, and at the Confirmation Retreat and Penance Service.
Candidates will be asked to become more intensely involved in the life of the Church by their active participation in worship, Confirmation Service Hours, and ways of sharing the Gospel in the wider community.
Candidates will gain an awareness of their encounter with Jesus Christ in the Sacraments and the life-long process of their unique spiritual journey. Candidates will be interviewed and have a chance to share their experiences during the year.
Emphasis will be placed on each Candidate’s discovery and sharing the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit.