Confirmation Policy - Diocese of Bathurst
The Celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Diocese of Bathurst
At the beginning of 2017, I circulated a discussion paper on the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation in our Diocese.
I was grateful for the participation of many people in the discussions that ensued, which helped in the preparation of a draft policy which eventually went to the annual assembly of the Diocesan Pastoral Council in October 2017.
After final revisions, I now publish the policy which is to be in effect from today. It will be reviewed from time to time.
I will appoint an Advisory Panel to gather information on the application of these principles in the various parishes and their schools; to facilitate the sharing of good ideas; and to assist in developing formation programs for those responsible for sacramental preparation and continuing formation after the celebration of the Sacrament.
Similar work will be undertaken, in due course, with regard to the administration of the other sacraments of initiation for both children and adults.
The Advisory Panel will also consider the selection and formation of sponsors for Baptism and Confirmation.
+ Michael McKenna
Bishop of Bathurst
11th January 2018
- The faithful are obliged to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation at the appropriate time (Can. 890). The appropriate time is either after the age of discretion or when the person is in danger of death (Can. 891). It will be conferred on baptised persons who properly and reasonably request it (Can. 885).
- The ordinary minister of the Sacrament is the Bishop. Priests have the faculty to confirm (i) in danger of death and (ii) when adults are baptised or received into the Catholic Church. On all other occasions, including Confirmation of adult Catholics who have not previously received the Sacrament, they require a specific delegation from the Bishop.
- The Bishop relies on the judgment and recommendation of the Parish Priest to determine that the candidate is suitably instructed, properly disposed and able to renew his or her baptismal promises (Can. 889). If, in the judgment of the Parish Priest, the candidate has not yet met these requirements, the administration of the Sacrament is to be delayed until he or she is ready.
- The preparation of candidates and their continuing formation after Confirmation is the responsibility of the whole parish community, led by the Parish Priest. The families and sponsors, the parish school, catechists, sacramental teams and all parishioners have particular roles which, to be effective, must be carried out in collaboration with one another.
- The current practice of inviting children to prepare for Confirmation in Year Six will be retained, with the following modifications:
(a) The Sacrament is not to be routinely or automatically conferred at a particular age. An essential part of the preparation should involve discerning each candidate’s willingness and readiness to receive Confirmation. It must be a free and informed choice on the part of the candidate and his or her family, as well as a judgment on the part of those responsible for the preparation, ultimately the Parish Priest. The option of postponing the Sacrament until a later age is to be clearly presented.
(b) Parishes and their schools and catechists are invited to consider beginning preparation in Year Five, with the possibility of recommending suitable candidates from that age group.
6. The content of the preparation and evidence of its reception are to include the following:
(a) A familiarity with and understanding of the baptismal promises which the candidates publically profess in the Confirmation liturgy.
(b) Openness to and reverence for the Word of God that comes to us in Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Church.
(c) The practice of personal prayer.
(d) The practice of liturgical prayer and the part that the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, play in the Christian life.
(e) The responsibilities and duties of members of the Church, especially in works of service and support of the parish’s material needs.