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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Exception Or The Rule?

So I'm getting ready for our Confirmation Retreat, sending letters to the past two years' Confirmation class to gather a team of excellent kids to lead this year's Retreat, and I ask my secretary to make copies of this very letter.

Her daughter is in the Confirmation class and the retreat is requiered. Her daughter-and a few other friends in the class-have been given the opportunity to be a part of a big event which occurs the same time the retreat does. So, my secretary comes to me-as she has in the past-and tells me that said daughter and friends have come up with a plan to miss part of the retreat and get the information from other kids who were on the retreat last year, in essence being ok with comprimising their Confirmation Retreat.


Then the secretary informs me that she has already talked to Fr Pastor about it and he seemed much more open to it, that if they have a plan, that would be good. That we need to always have options for people and take a pastoral approach. (ps thanks for coming to me first...)

Ok, I'm all for that. Really, I know that there are definate times when the rules, as they were, need to be amended so to best work with others and these amendments still reach the goal. Like the girl who couldn't make the second service requirement at the local nursing home, but went with her grandmother on a different day, different place and did some good work. Ok, I have the rule that we do service work together to build community, support each and such, but she did make one already and was willing to put in time in a different way.

But this is literally a 24 hour retreat. They have known about it since September. They also knew that it would be required. I hate that word, esp since these girls are really really really great girls, in homes where the Faith is delighted in and faithfully pursued. They also have two more years to try out for this and frankly if they don't make it is it really the end of the world? Of their careers? I know moms want to make their kids happy, I know this is of great importance to the kids, but I'm tired of making concessions to school activities, parents and frankly, the pastor. I also want these great kids because they influence other kids whether they know it or not and hold up the standard of what we should be doing. Well, usually anyway.

What happens when another parent comes to me and says "well, Bobby has a meet that day " or "Susie has a private tennis lesson that day" and wants to not be there?

They insist that if they are gone during the social part it won't make a difference. In my book, any time away from the group is time away and affects the others. The retreat is everything: The talks, the small groups, the hanging out, the getting to know others the meals, the games-every single part serves a purpose.

What would you do? Have you been in this situation? What standards do you use when making exceptions to the rule?


Blogger Jaime said...

When parents intervene like this, it is sending the message that church is really just one hour a week. Prepping for confirmation, marriage, baptism, etc. is only necessary so that you can receive the sacrament. In a sense, the parents are half right. Sacraments don't have to be an integral part of peoples lives. Sacraments are only as powerful as we allow them to be.

When I was approached with "Suzie doesn't have the time..." I didn't sweat it. I just said "Ok when she has the time to participate in Confirmation, have her sign up again" The parents would generally get a bit boisterous at that point "How can you keep my girl from being confirmed?" I would explain that if she didn't go to danceline practice, she wouldn't go to the competition. If she didn't go to math class, she wouldn't graduate. It wasn't personal.

There were kids that I had to throw out of peer ministry. That was tough because they were good and talented kids. They were also making a dumb mistake by bringing beer on my retreat. But the night after they got the boot, we went out for pizza and to hang out. It was important for them to know that I still thought they were wonderful and talented. Not being allowed to participate in peer ministry did not mean I cared for them any less. Disappointed and angry, of course, but I didn't think any less of them. I intentionally did the same with the kids that couldn't get confirmed.

When I stayed consistent with this model, eventually the kids figured out just how important the sacraments could be. Then church became a more important choice than other activities.

If I remember right, you are using the NET retreats? Are you doing it for confirmation as well? I would STRONGLY suggest a whole weekend retreat. 24 hour retreats were the bane of my existence. Teen logic dictates that "If I only have one night with my friends, I better not use it by sleeping" therebye p####ing the morning away because everyone is exhausted. When I bumped it to a weekend, I could get the kids to sleep Friday night and made sure they were exhausted by the end of Saturday. If the hardcore kids decided to stay up and cause problems. The core message of the retreat had hit home by Saturday night anyway. But more importantly, group dynamics take time. We are constantly inundated with new information. Decompression has to happen for an effective retreat. Rome wasn't built in a day

10:12 AM  
Blogger Jaime said...

upon rereading, I don't think I offered an opinion on the question posed. (I'm pretty good at not doing that)

Exceptions made

Alien abduction
Twins in the world series (actually not but sometimes I regret not doing it)

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is that Confirmation is a sacrament, a FREE gift of the Holy Spirit. Unlike a diploma, or an award, it cannot be earned.

The Church is to provide the sacraments to the faithful who are properly disposed. If these girls are from "homes where the faith is delighted in and faithfully pursued," I don't see where the problem is. Make the exception.

Fundamentally, religious education programs serve 2 functions. First, and most importantly, they serve to assist pastors, so they might know better and more fully who is properly disposed to recieve the sacraments. Second, they assist parents in executing their duty to religiously educate their children.

If both the pastor and parents of these girls are not concerned with them missing part of the retreat, then there is no issue here.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Jaime said...

While I agree that Confirmation is a gift freely given. It also historically has come with a price. This is why its the last of the initiation rites. There is responsibility that comes with being confirmed and there is a responsibility for those who say "Yes (s)he is ready" Part of that responsibility goes to the community, part to the sponsor. The Catechism is pretty clear on that.

But there is another layer to this besides catechetical, and that is communal. What message does that send to the other confirmation canditates? "You had to prep, but she didn't". That is nothing but downside.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No missing. End of story. Take it to the Bishop. I'm not hearing it.

That's my policy.

12:29 AM  
Blogger TCYM Lounge said...

I took this a little further. Anonymous, I hear what you are saying-and my job would be a hundred times easier if all parents were like you.

However, there seems to be this attitude of non-involvement and I'm not sure why. I started another post to investigate this and would love some feed back.

11:58 AM  

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