Well, this is the strangest “press release” I have ever read. It is a most unusual way to communicate episcopal instruction. Whatever happened to a good, old fashioned pastoral letter? Or a column in the diocesan paper?
That aside, we applaud Bishop Gerard Holohan for raising the question of the practice of Confirmation in our Australian schools.
He is spot on in calling Confirmation (as it is currently practiced) a “Sacrament of Farewell”. It reminds one of the old joke about how the parish priest got rid of the pigeons in the bell tower. “I just baptised and confirmed them, and I never saw them again”, he said.
And his analogy of catechesis to a trade apprenticeship in contrast to religious education as a TAFE course in that trade is spot on.
As is his call for us to return to the original and proper order of initation: Baptism, CONFIRMATION, first eucharist. The Orthodox have been looking at us sideways ever since we brought in the novelty of first eucharist BEFORE confirmation.
He is calling for:
– a new and focussed catechesis programme,
– a new level of parish and school collaboration,
– a catechesis strategy that draws in parents and even other family members so that families can offer catechesis and
– the raising of the Confirmation age.
This four-pronged approach is just what we need, but it’s going to take a hell of a lot of education and hard work and debate before we can see this level of reformation across the board.
Perhaps the next Synod of Bishops in Rome should be on the sacrament of Confirmation and the effective catechesis and initiation of the young…