I’ve been involved with our Confirmation program for a number of years and it’s been one of the most rewarding and unbelievable experiences I continue to have as a Catholic. In fact, it’s right up there with motherhood.
Last year, we started interviewing our candidates before the program started. I had no idea what a difference it would make.
We’re a small parish, and we have a rather unique approach to Confirmation. For one thing, we do our catechesis in a one week “Boot Camp” style program (I wrote about that for RTJ’s Creative Catechist a while back, if you’re interested in the details). For another thing, we confirm our students as they’re entering eighth grade, and that makes them among the youngest Confirmed in our area.
Now we can add one more thing to our “things we do differently” list: we interview our candidates.
Last year, as they came in for their appointments, they were nervous. And you know, that was good to see. Truth be told, I was a little nervous myself.
All too often, the common wisdom seems to state that “these kids are up to no good,” that “kids nowadays just don’t care,” and that “those kids won’t amount to anything.”
I’ve always hated that rhetoric and my experience (more than 20 years of it, in schools and in parish life) has never, never borne it out as truth. In fact, my experience has proven just the opposite.
“These kids” are up to all sorts of things, but “no good” isn’t usually what most of them are doing on purpose. “Kids nowadays” care, and they care a great deal. In fact, I would argue that they’re looking for something to invest themselves in. We just have to push them and challenge them and offer it to them. And “those kids”? They are the future of our Church. They are the ones who will take care of us in our old age. And from my perspective, I think things look really bright.
In the intense week-long experience of Confirmation Boot Camp, I see a side of the candidates that they might hide a lot. I push a lot of buttons and bring up things that, maybe, no other adult has presented to them.
My job as a catechist is one I take seriously. I’m passing on the faith, after all, and hopefully letting the Holy Spirit use me to reach this next generation.
In the questions we asked candidates last year, there were two themes that struck me. They aren’t surprising, and I think they’re ones that everyone reading will relate with:
- Our candidates said, overwhelmingly, that they don’t pray as much as they should.
- They felt strongest in their faith at church (i.e., Mass).
I’m betting that’s true for all of us, too. I know I don’t pray as much as I should. But have I gotten better? Yes. And can we address the ways to pray more deeply? You bet.
Most of the adults I know feel strongest in their faith at church too. So, why am I not there more? How come I keep a distance from that which inspires the strongest feelings in me?
Sitting down one-on-one with our candidates is great. I put faces with names before that week-long fun we have in June. It also let them know that they aren’t required to be confirmed, that it’s a personal choice they make (as opposed to their parents making it for them), and that it’s something we care about making better for them.
They were honest with us in a way that was refreshing. It gave us all an ownership of the process we didn’t have before. And it made me think about how seriously I take my faith in the little moments when no one else is watching.
So, here is something to consider. You are not being interviewed right now, but how would you respond to tough questions from a Catechist? Would your responses reflect a passion for our Catholic faith? The active practice of it in your daily lives?
I tried this exercise on myself…and I have plenty of praying and changing to do.
Sarah Reinhard is a Catholic wife, mom and author whose nose is probably in a book if she’s not scraping something off of her shoes. Her latest book is A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism. Check out all of her books at http://sarahreinhard.com/writing/my-books/.
Visit Sarah’s website: http://sarahreinhard.com/
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