It is hard to avoid the commercials about logistics from the shipping company UPS. Growing your business through the power of logistics, the ads say. When implementing reforms in the Catholic Church, it would be nice to be able to just call a company and have them work out all of the practical details of implementation, to work out all of the logistics.
But instead of turning to UPS, the planning team working on implementing the proper order for the sacraments of initiation and comprehensive youth ministry are turning to the real experts — those people working in parishes in the area of liturgy, catechesis and youth ministry — in order to work out the logistics of the plan. In order to hear from them, Bishop Larry Silva and the planning team are inviting the real experts working in the trenches to come to listening sessions to give their ideas on how best to implement the plan. Listening sessions will be offered on all islands to get input from parents, clergy, catechists, youth ministers, Catholic school teachers, and anyone interested in the faith life of young people.
Hopefully the listening in these sessions will occur in three ways. First, we will listen to what the Scriptures have to offer about the reception of the sacraments of initiation. Second, the planning team will present the outline of the two main goals: celebrating the sacraments of initiation in their original order, and developing the components of comprehensive youth ministry in all parishes. And third, the planning team wants to hear practical suggestions for implementation and legitimate concerns of those attending the meetings.
The planning team has already been hearing many points of view, including questions about the title of the initiative, “Offer, Strengthen, Sustain.” “Offer” refers to Baptism, the gift that transforms one as a member of the body of Christ and gives the gift of salvation. “Strengthen” refers to Confirmation, which arms the faithful with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life and to spread the faith to others. “Sustain” refers to the Holy Eucharist, the manna which feeds the Christian throughout the journey of life on the way to the Promised Land of heaven.
In the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, there is a stained glass window of St. Pope Pius X giving Holy Communion to little children. This window reflects the fact that he was the one who lowered the age of first Holy Communion to the age of reason (age 7) back in 1910. If little children need Jesus in the Eucharist, don’t they also need the Holy Spirit in Confirmation?
How this is to be done is the topic for the listening sessions. Equally important in the listening sessions will be questions of how comprehensive youth ministry will be put into place in all parishes. When looking at the eight components set out by the U.S. bishops for youth ministry, it can seem difficult or even impossible. Yet a closer examination may result in a realization that many of the components are already in place, especially in our high school Confirmation programs. The listening sessions can examine how best to transition those components from Confirmation preparation to youth ministry and how to develop the components that are missing.
In the last four issues of the Hawaii Catholic Herald, articles have been included about the theology and history of the sacraments of initiation, the importance of family catechesis and religious education, and the way to empower youth for the mission Christ gives them through the implementation of comprehensive youth ministries in parishes. As a result of these articles many questions and concerns have been the subject of conversations at our churches, religious education meetings, and in clergy and youth gatherings. The planning team wants to hear these questions and concerns as well as practical suggestions and solutions for how to work out the plan for implementation.
There are many practical matters to be considered: What do we expect from 7-year-olds in order to be confirmed? How will catechesis for those in elementary grades be affected? What will be the involvement of parents and family? What role do Catholic schools play? How will the transition take place? How will all of the components of comprehensive youth ministry be implemented in the parish?
Change is sometimes difficult. But this change offers a tremendous opportunity to appreciate God’s grace at work in the lives of young people and an opportunity to reemphasize family catechesis and youth ministry as they are meant to be.
The planning team wants to hear from all involved at the listening sessions. The team is also learning from other dioceses in the United States who have already made the shift. According to Msgr. Marc Caron, pastor and former chancellor of the Diocese of Portland in Maine, which made the shift 18 years ago, the mistake they made in moving Confirmation to a younger age was that they did not have something in place for their teenagers. The Diocese of Honolulu will not make the same mistake.
The 90-minute island listening sessions are scheduled as follows:
- Oahu: July 7, 7 p.m. at St. Ann, Kaneohe
- Lanai: July 11, 10:30 a.m. at Sacred Hearts, Lanai City
- Oahu: Aug. 11, 7 p.m. at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa, Honolulu
- Kauai: Aug. 13, 7 p.m. at Immaculate Conception, Lihue
- Hawaii: Aug.19, 7 p.m. at Annunciation, Waimea
- Hawaii: Aug. 20, 7 p.m. at St. Joseph, Hilo
- Oahu: Sept. 9, 7 p.m. at Resurrection of the Lord, Waipio
- Maui: Sept. 12, 10:30 a.m. at St. Anthony of Padua, Wailuku
- Molokai: Nov. 7, 1 p.m. at St. Damien, Kaunakakai
Now is the time for us to listen to those who will be directly impacted by this change.
Deacon Cordero is the director of the Office of Worship of the Diocese of Honolulu.