Thursday, March 2, 2006

Confirmation in 8th grade honestly represents "age of discretion"

The following letter was sent by Al and Margo Szews of West Allis to the Catholic Herald.
Kudos to Archbishop Dolan for opening a discussion on the appropriate age for the sacrament of confirmation. We attended the "study day" on January 28 and were surprised to discover that most of the 230 participants were somehow involved in catechetics, either as parish catechists or directors of religious education. The majority appeared to be in favor of keeping the confirmation age at 16.

The request, however, to lower the confirmation age to grade school came from parents, not catechists, and we would have expected to find a greater number of parents in attendance. Unfortunately, most families were not aware that these meetings were scheduled, as the only notice we saw in the Catholic Herald was a small article on page 15 of the Jan. 19 edition, and we are unaware of any parish bulletins that announced the meetings.

Comparing our daughter's confirmation in 8th grade in 1976 with the 11th grade experience of our two sons in 1982 and 1984, we believe the 11th grade confirmation experiment has been a failure. For most students, 11th grade is probably the busiest year of high school. The academic load is heavy, extracurricular activities are popular and many students have part-time jobs. While some struggle to meet the requirements, many others simply drop out. The celebrated idea that these young people are making a "mature faith conuriitinent" is just, by and large, wishful thinking. A true commitment to the Catholic faith occurs at marriage when a person either marries in the Church, or marries out of the Church.

The Church requires confirmation at the "age of discretion" (CCC #1307; Canon 891), which would surely indicate grade school. Our 8th graders have the time, the interest, and the ability to learn the doctrines of the Catholic faith and become true "soldiers of Christ." No one can deny that young children, growing up in this anti-Catholic, neo-pagan culture, desperately need the graces of confirmation to help them through the difficult teenage years. Confirmation in 8th grade is the norm in many dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Chicago. It more honestly represents the "age of discretion," and ensures greater participation.

Whether or not confirmation is moved to junior high, where it ought to be, the quality of most catechetical programs must be vastly improved if we want our children to become practicing Catholics who attend weekly Mass and go to frequent confession.

The Herald published it (print only), except for the final paragraph, in its February 23, 2006 issue.


Blogger Dad29 said...

The same "educational experts" who have required that 5th-graders in Archdiocesan/parochial schools learn all about intercourse?

Yah, hey.

My 6th-grader will be Confirmed this spring. Due to a truth-challenged Franciscan priest, my 18-year-old did not get confirmed "in cycle" at age 16.

Screw the "experts."

5:34 PM  

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