Age for Confirmation

Jun 15, 2018

During the first week of June last year I received a letter from the bishop’s office that surprised me. I admit that surprise at a decision he makes is not uncommon. I don’t mean that I disagree with him. I am taken aback sometimes because I didn’t expect that action on his part. Bishop Monforton is very decisive.

His letter included a decree (that is Church-speak for “You must”) that the age for Confirmation in our diocese will henceforth be fifth grade (or age 10-11). If a parish does not have a huge class each year, then combining grades five through seven is accept-able.

But isn’t Confirmation supposed to be a sort of coming-of-age for our kids? Absolutely not. The Sacrament of Confirmation was never intended to have anything to do with a Christian’s reaching a certain age.

It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that Confirmation got separated from Baptism. Until then, the common practice was to Baptize, Confirm and give First Communion (just a drop or two of the Precious Blood or a crumb of the Body of Christ). That is still the practice in the Eastern half of the Church.

I suspect that Bishop Monforton has made this decision because there is such a wide variety of practices. One day he does a Confirmation of second graders (Steubenville), and the next eleven and twelfth graders. BTW—Canon Law says Confirmation should be celebrated prior to one’s 16th birthday.

So, Fifth Grade it is.



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