Confirmation in Vermont will be a little different next year. Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne announced in 2018 that the confirmation age would be lowered from tenth grade to sixth grade. This change is taking place gradually and parishes will be preparing eighth-, ninth- and tenth-grade students for confirmation in 2019-2020. Confirmation is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation in the Catholic Church, the other two are baptism and Eucharist. In confirmation, the baptized “are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence, they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1285). This sacrament, then, pours grace out on the confirmands while also preparing them to take on greater roles in the Church.
One common misconception about confirmation is that it is a “graduation” or “end point” in one’s journey of faith. Far from it! The catechism explains that preparation for confirmation should lead a Christian into a deeper relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit as well as “awaken a sense of belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ” (1309). Our new diocesan guidelines focus especially on these elements of personal relationship with God and continued involvement in the Church.
Along with the age change comes some preparation changes. A summary of confirmation preparation elements is listed below. For the full 2019-2020 Confirmation Guidelines and other information about confirmation in the Diocese of Burlington, go to vermontcatholic.org/religiouseducation.
If you have any questions about the confirmation guidelines, contact Michael Hagan (firstname.lastname@example.org), the coordinator of religious education and catechesis.
+Active participation in the parish for two years prior to reception of confirmation, shown especially by regular Mass attendance
+Candidate Interview: A one-on-one meeting between the candidates and the pastor or another designated parish leader to get to know the candidates and understand their desire to receive confirmation.
+Discipleship Plan: Students will be asked how they plan to grow as a disciple of Christ in tangible and realistic ways. Putting this plan on paper will encourage candidates to realize their goals and help parishes follow up with students in future years about their progress.
+Catechesis for Confirmation: The guidelines include six topics that will prepare candidates for confirmation.
+Involvement of parent and sponsors
—Michael Hagan is coordinator of religious education and catechesis for the Diocese of Burlington.
—Originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.