By Darlene J.M. Dela Cruz
Hawaii Catholic Herald
Nearly three years ago, Bishop Larry Silva announced in the April 24, 2015, Hawaii Catholic Herald that the Diocese of Honolulu would embark on a shift in its administration of the Sacraments of Initiation.
Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation — the three sacraments that welcome or “initiate” and affirm a person as a member of the Catholic faithful — the bishop noted, have long been “given out of order.” Baptism is traditionally done in infancy. First Eucharist generally happens for keiki around age 7. Island teens have come to anticipate Confirmation as a high school experience.
Bishop Silva, in his letter, proposed “to return the Sacraments of Initiation to their proper order in our diocese, that is: Baptism, Confirmation and then First Holy Communion.”
This “Original Order” initiative aimed at ultimately having all of Hawaii’s parishes by 2021 no longer administering Confirmation to teens, and instead having that sacrament given to children at the same tender age they receive Holy Communion.
“It will require a new way of thinking,” Bishop Silva wrote in 2015. “But it is worth it because it will help bring about the participation of a greater number of young disciples in building up the Kingdom of God.”
This year marks a pivotal point in the Original Order plan. The first of three groups of parishes (see table on page 5) are on the verge of completing their transition in the many facets of sacramental preparation and youth ministry that needed to be refined and reworked to ensure that our young faithful experience the fullness of God’s grace.
On Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 2018, all Island parishes except the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace are set to administer Confirmation to all teenage confirmandi in grades 9-12. (The Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, which already has Original Order in place, is exempt in this process.)
On May 20 as well, Confirmation candidates in grades 2-12 in “Group 1” parishes will receive the sacrament. In total, an estimated 5,000 young faithful will be confirmed that day.
“Big Pentecost,” as the occasion has been nicknamed, culminates the initial wave of hard work to restore Original Order as it also ushers in a new understanding and appreciation of the sacraments in the diocese.
The Hawaii Catholic Herald has been catching up with the diocesan team assembled to help Hawaii’s parishes in restoring Original Order. Since the initiative was first announced, it has been a huge undertaking that has required the skills and expertise of the entire Catholic community.
“Such a plan requires that we trust in the Holy Spirit,” Bishop Silva noted in 2015.
Education and training
Tapped to spearhead the Original Order transition were:
- Deacon Modesto Cordero, diocesan Office of Worship director
- Father Mark Gantley, judicial vicar and director of canonical affairs
- Father William Kunisch, pastor of Resurrection of the Lord Church in Waipio (“clergy consultant”)
- Jayne Mondoy, diocesan religious education director
- Kristina DeNeve, diocesan adult faith formation and evangelization coordinator
- Lisa Gomes, diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry director
- Mike Rockers, superintendent of Hawaii Catholic Schools
The team began the process by educating Hawaii’s Catholics with a five-part series of informative Hawaii Catholic Herald articles in 2015. They provided facts and resources designed to correct misconceptions about the Sacraments of Initiation, shared how Original Order will enrich parish life and invited the community to dialogue about concerns and best practices.
They titled the article series “Offer, Strengthen, Sustain.”
“The Sacraments of Initiation can be compared to climbing up Diamond Head Crater,” Father Mark Gantley explained in the May 8, 2015, Herald. “To do the climb, one needs to be prepared when starting out, primarily by being hydrated. Then one needs the strength to climb up the ¾-mile path. Finally, one reaches the summit.”
“The hydration of Baptism starts a Christian on the path. The gift of the Holy Spirit received in Confirmation gives the strength needed to make the journey. Then finally, earth is joined to heaven at the summit when one receives first Holy Communion.”
“The first two Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism and Confirmation) prepare us for the third (Eucharist),” he wrote.
According to Father Gantley, Confirmation being celebrated after first Holy Communion dates back only to mid-18th century France. It is not the way the early church administered the sacrament. Confirmation becoming “a rite of passage into adulthood” or “like a graduation” he noted, evolved from cultural tendencies and logistics, not theological reasons.
“Grade-based faith formation” would continue in the diocese as it transitions to Original Order, reported diocesan religious education director Mondoy in the Herald June 5, 2015. Curricula would be “reformed” to include “a greater emphasis on family catechesis and active involvement in the parish.”
In place of Confirmation classes for teens, parishes were directed to implement “comprehensive youth ministry.” Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry director Gomes described in her June 19, 2015, article that specialized ministry is required outside of sacramental preparation “to empower young people … to acquire the knowledge, skills and values to live in this world as disciples of Christ.”
“To do this, young people need to be taught the faith, but they also need to have modeled for them what discipleship looks like through service, prayer and parish life, and by exploring vocations.”
Parishes were grouped for the Original Order transition based on their readiness to implement follow-up ministries for youth once their shift to Original Order is complete.
In addition to education, revising curricula and developing youth ministry strategies, the Original Order team held “listening sessions” around the diocese and provided adult Catholics with their own Confirmation classes to prepare them to become sponsors for young ones receiving the sacraments. They also have collaborated with other U.S. dioceses that have attempted or fully transitioned to Original Order.
Accompaniment and trust
Diocesan religious education director Mondoy shared her reflections on the Original Order progress so far in a Jan. 4 interview with the Herald.
Mondoy said she has been heartened to see that as Island parishioners have been learning more about Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist — as well as the sacrament of Reconciliation, which while not a Sacrament of Initiation, is required before first Holy Communion — “a theology of the sacraments has been renewed.”
“What surprised me was the beauty of the openness of the faithful,” she said. “To hear them say ‘I understand the connection between Baptism and Confirmation, and how we are living these gifts as a family,’ that’s the part that’s so grace-filled for me.”
“Children are open to these conversations,” she added. “It taught me that faith involves trust.”
She said there is a local trend “toward family-based faith formation” that “ties into stewardship” and allows parents “to experience the support of the parish in passing down the faith.”
The biggest challenge, she said, has been finding innovative ways to explain the sacraments so that “the message touches the heart.” Parish religious education and Catholic school staff have been diligent and creative in going beyond intellectual catechesis, and providing deeper instruction to show that sacraments are not just pragmatic life steps done simply out of tradition.
Mondoy said it takes a multifaceted approach to underscore how “the Holy Spirit calls us to be disciples.”
“We’re still presented with a lot of work in evangelization,” she said.
Ultimately, the transition toward Original Order is a journey of “accompaniment,” Mondoy explained.
“It’s not just this one time thing,” she said. “We accompany each other and our understanding gets deeper and deeper over time.”
RESTORING ORIGINAL ORDER
Sacraments of Initiation resources and info
“The sharing of the divine nature, by which men are forgiven by Christ’s grace, bears a resemblance to the beginning of natural life, its growth and nourishment. For indeed the faithful, reborn by Baptism, are strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation and finally are invigorated in the Eucharist by the food of eternal life so that by these sacraments of Christian initiation they may receive more and more the treasures of divine life and progress moreover to the perfection of charity.”
Divinae Consortium Naturae, 1971 Cited in “Norms for the Preparation for and Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation and First Penance,” Diocese of Honolulu, 2016-17
Parish groupings (Year that Original Order will be fully implemented)
Group 1 (2019)
- Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa (2019)
- Mystical Rose Oratory
- Our Lady of the Mount
- Our Lady of Perpetual Help
- Our Lady of Good Counsel
- Resurrection of the Lord
- Sacred Heart, Punahou
- St. Pius X
- St. Anthony, Kalihi
- St. Augustine
- St. Elizabeth
- St. John Apostle and Evangelist
- St. John the Baptist
- St. John Vianney
- St. Jude
- St. Stephen
- Sts. Peter and Paul, Honolulu
- Annunciation (and mission)
- Our Lady of Lourdes
- St. Benedict (and missions)
- St. Joseph, Hilo
- St. Michael, Kailua-Kona (and missions)
- St. Theresa, Mountain View (and missions)
- St. Catherine (and missions)
- St. Theresa, Kekaha (and mission)
- Maria Lanakila (and mission)
- Our Lady Queen of Angels (and missions)
- St. Joseph, Makawao
- St. Theresa, Kihei
- St. Damien of Molokai (and missions)
- St. Anthony, Kailua
- Vietnamese Community
Group 2 (2020)
- Christ the King, Kahului
- Holy Cross (and mission)
- Holy Rosary, Pahala
- Holy Rosary, Paia
- Holy Trinity
- Immaculate Conception, Ewa
- Korean Catholic Community
- Mary, Star of the Sea
- Our Lady of Sorrows
- Our Lady of Mount Carmel
- Sacred Heart, Naalehu
- St. Ann, Kaneohe
- St. Ann, Waihee
- St. George
- Newman Center/Holy Spirit
- St. Michael, Waialua (and mission)
- St. Raphael
- St. Rita, Haiku
- St. Anthony, Wailuku
- Sacred Hearts, Lanai City
- Immaculate Conception, Lihue
Group 3 (2021)
- Blessed Sacrament
- Holy Family
- Malia Puka O Kalani
- Sacred Heart, Waianae
- St. Philomena
- St. Joseph, Waipahu
- St. Mary (and missions)
- St. Patrick
- St. Rita, Nanakuli
- St. Roch (and mission)
- Immaculate Heart of Mary (and mission)
- Sacred Heart, Pahoa
- St. Anthony, Laupahoehoe
Brief tips on sacramental requirements and ministries
- For questions on requirements for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist for parents, sponsors and sacramental candidates, contact your home parish or refer to the “Norms for the Preparation for and Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation and First Penance” on the Diocese of Honolulu website.
- Catechesis for Confirmation and Eucharist may be done through instruction in Hawaii Catholic Schools. However, participation is required in parish sacramental preparation programs, retreats, meetings and other activities.
- Island teens who are not confirmed during the Original Order transitional period at their parish will be advised to contact parish staff for assistance afterward and offered sacramental preparation as evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Recommended reading and viewing:
- “Catechism of the Catholic Church”
- “Code of Canon Law”
- “Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry” (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)
- “Stewards of the Gospel” (Diocese of Honolulu pastoral plan)
- “One Ohana” sacramental video series (produced by the Diocese of Honolulu)
Diocese of Honolulu Original Order website: