In late 2019 we began discussions about the effectiveness of our youth ministry programs. The reorganization of our parishes provided an opportunity to reevaluate how we are forming our youth to be saints. Even though the pandemic and staff changes stalled things, these conversations continue.
One of the topics of discussion was the age at which youth receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. At the time, St. Lawrence and Immaculate Conception youth were confirmed in the 11th grade and St. Joseph and St. John youth were confirmed in the 8th grade. This presented a challenge because we had two completely separate programs. 8th graders and 11th graders are very different developmentally and there could be no collaboration between programs. One year we attempted a joint retreat, but that did not work well at all.
Having the same Confirmation age allows us to have a single, dynamic confirmation program and reduces the multiplication of ministries. Unnecessarily multiplying ministries drains resources, both monetary and human. We can’t serve our youth as well.
The question then becomes, “what is the appropriate age for Confirmation?” There are many different opinions about this. The guidance from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati states that Confirmation should be received between the 6th and 11th grades. Last year the age at St. Lawrence and Immaculate Conception was lowered to 10th grade so that 16 year olds would receive Confirmation and thus be eligible to be godparents.
In speaking with many who work with confirmandi, 8th grade isn’t an ideal age for confirmation. The maturity of Junior High students is still in development and many of them struggle to engage the formation for the Sacrament (of course some are ready to receive Confirmation).
We could lower the age of Confirmation to 6th grade, which initially really interested me. However many places that lowered the age of Confirmation haven’t done well in retaining their youth.
With this in mind, beginning spring 2022 all Petersburg Youth will be confirmed in the 10th grade. This means there will only be confirmation for St. Lawrence and Immaculate Conception in 2022 and 2023. This means that the current St. Joseph and St. John 7th graders will be confirmed in 2024. In the near future, we will communicate the preparation plan for Confirmation. If you have any questions please direct them to Angie Soules at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Sean Wilson