Every year adults who want to be confirmed come to RCIA. For these Catholics, it is important to honor their Catholic Baptism and pastorally consider their faith formation needs. The result for these people may be a time of preparation that is significantly shorter than for the unbaptized or those coming from another Christian tradition. Roger Desjardins from St. Philip Benizi shared his story on how they minister to Adults seeking Confirmation.
ADULT CATHOLIC CONFIRMATION: A JOY AND A JOURNEY
The immediate preparation of adults for the sacrament of Confirmation can be a challenge. In my five years of experience at my parish, I see it as a joy and a journey. Adults seeking Confirmation are a diverse group. Their experience and comfort level with the Catholic Church must be considered and their path to the sacrament must be tailored to their needs. The process at our parish evolved over the years as we received participant input from evaluations after each session.
Because not every adult seeking Confirmation comes with the same background and faith experience, each adult candidate for Confirmation is interviewed by the Director of Faith Formation or other suitable person to discern the following:
- PREVIOUS FORMATION: What is their prior experience of church, prayer, scripture and service? For some candidates who have had no formation or connection to church in a long time, this might mean that they prepare fully with other RCIA candidates. For others, a brief period of preparation focused on Confirmation is all that is needed.
- SACRAMENTS: Have they celebrated their First Communion and Reconciliation?
- LITURGY: Do they attend Mass regularly? Participation in the Sunday Liturgy is an essential component of the Christian life.
- WHY? Why do they want to be confirmed and why now? This question helps uncover a motivation and desire for the sacrament. It may shed light on a particular need that should be addressed.
- MARITAL STATUS: Are they married, have they been divorced? A candidate for Confirmation must be in a valid, sacramental marriage. Exploring this issue with a candidate allows for a discussion on the Catholic understanding of marriage as a sacrament and if needed, the healing gift of a convalidation or annulment.
For those who have no marital impediments (needing annulments), some knowledge of church teachings and who actively participate in the sacraments and liturgy, I offer a five weekly three-hour sessions focused on Prayer, Sacraments, Service and Ministry.
PRAYER: Since prayer is an essential component of the Christian Life, candidates must be given the tools to develop an active prayer life. To help them, we model prayer by beginning and ending each of the sessions with a prayer experience. Many forms of prayer, including traditional Catholic prayers are discussed. I often end sessions by reciting a decade of the rosary.
SACRAMENTS: For Reconciliation, we read and discuss the Ten Commandments, Beatitudes and Catholic teachings on morality. I include one session that focuses on personal preparation and “how to go to confession.” For the Rite of Confirmation, I use Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church followed by discussions that focus on the following:
SCRIPTURE: The candidates read Acts 2:1-41 and discuss the passage. I try to communicate that the sacrament of Confirmation “is not magic.” We talk about being open to the Holy Spirit and what that really means. . Another key passage we explore is Galatians 5:22. They are encouraged to choose either a gift or fruit of the spirit and to reflect on what that gift/fruit means to them; and how they hope to live out that gift or fruit of the spirit.
CATECHISM: From the Catechism, we read paragraphs that pertain to Confirmation and discuss the following:
- Who is the Holy Spirit?
- How does the Holy Spirit act in the life of the church?
- How does the Holy Spirit work in your life as a confirmand?
- Who can receive the sacrament?
- Who confers the sacrament?
- The History of the sacrament
SERVICE AND MINISTRY: We explore the meaning of discipleship and ministry highlighting that our parish serves the Church in over 85 different ministries. They are given our Book of Ministries to explore and are encouraged to become involved.
It is important that this process offers open and honest dialogue leading candidates to think about their faith as an adult and become more open to the Holy Spirit.
Considering individual needs of adults seeking Confirmation takes time and careful attention to their needs but it is a rewarding journey to see them awaken in faith and become more active in the life of the church. Preparing adults for Confirmation allows me to experience the Holy Spirit with them.
This article was written by Roger Desjardins from St. Philip Benizi