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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

To Require Or Not Require

This year I reformulated our Confirmation program. The Diocese that I'm in does not have a set age and so many parishes do it whenever it works for them. This parish opted for 10th grade years ago, and when I got here, all that they had to do was go to 5 classes, 1 retreat and show up for rehersal-and obviously the Mass itself.

Naturally I was appalled, so I revamped it: It is now a 2 year program beginning in 9th grade, which means they need to attend RelEd all year long, and attend a retreat and continue in 10th grade. During that year they attend RelEd-I'm using LifeTeen's Confirmation material-do service and attend a year-end retreat.

Now, the service opportunities are the same each month: On the 2nd Saturday we have one 2 hour opportunity, and on the 3rd Sat, a different 2 hour opportunity. I required them to come to two of each, two of each which means 4 total for a whole school year.

You would think I told them to scrub the parking lot with their teeth.

I have them do service with their community, with me, with the parish, with their classmates, so that they can grow and encourage each other. Still, some parents are outraged and some kids are still "too busy" to get it done. I'm sticking to this plan, but what do you do?

Do you require them to do certain things in the hope that they learn to want to do it? Do you let them do their own thing in hopes that they find something they enjoy doing?

What do you do for your Confirmation program?


Blogger Jaime said...

Warning The following commentary shares stories from a long time ago and a place far, far away!

You would think I told them to scrub the parking lot with their teeth.I did the very same thing and got the same reaction. Of course if I changed anything, the reaction for the first year was "We've never done that before". So I always figured for a "tradition factor" when I got creative. I generally had to give the changes two years before assessing the benefits.

Along with the two years of classes, they had 40 hours of service. 20 was service to others, 20 was service to self. Self would be making a non mandatory retreat or reading some literature off the list I put together. And yes students were "outraged" (as were some parents). But two years after, no one complained and many students went above the 40 hours. One student (and I'm not making this up) decided to read Summa Theologica for his service to self. I asked him which portion (in case I hadn't read that one I wanted to brush up)?

His response? "The whole thing". I don't know that many priests that have read through the whole Summa.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Last summer I started listing service opportunities for the young adult organization I help run. Only now, some six months later, have I started receiving inquiries. Good job and keep trying, Rome wasn't built in a day.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Patrick Sweeney said...

It might be interesting to follow-up and see how many of the 10th graders confirmed in prior years who still live in the parish attend Mass.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Jaime said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:52 PM  
Blogger TCYM Lounge said...

I pushed the wrong button! Hopefully I can entice Jaime to write it again.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you design requirements for confirmation, please remeber that the faithful have a RIGHT to the sacraments as long as they are properly disposed. As the homeschooling parent of 6 with one in confirmation classes right now. I have to say that even our parish's mild requirements are onerous. When you have 6 children to coordinate activities for, any requirements are difficult. My wife and I have ensured that our children are well formed in the faith, because canon law has charged us with that duty. Retreats, community service, and even classes that conflict with family activities are burdensome. And they are often unnecessarily burdensome.

Of special concern are community service reqirements, which skirt the boundries of simony. The sacraments are to be free. The faithful have a right to them.

I don't mean to sound harsh. I know you are well intentioned, and want to build a strong Church. But please respect the difficulties parents, especially the parents of large families, face. They face a difficult world, and canon law gives them more authority over the religious education of their children than anyone else, even the bishop.

10:52 AM  

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