Here are some commonly asked questions about this programme. If you have a question which is not answered here, you can send it to me here.
What age group is this programme aimed at?
Transformed in Christ is aimed at 12-16-year-olds. It may also be useful with those aged 16+. In fact, the main Catechesis in each session could even be used with young adults.
Can it be used for anything other than Confirmation preparation?
Of course! It would work well as a year-long programme for a youth group, or a programme of discipleship for older teenagers. Furthermore, the programme has already been trialled in a school chaplaincy setting. A short half-an-hour section could be used at a lunch-time chaplaincy session. Similarly, the main Catechesis in each session could be used in a college or university chaplaincy setting.
How long is each session?
Each session is one and a half hours long. It is a good idea to include social time for the young people each week, so with this added, it would be wise to factor in up to two hours for each session.
Some of the last sessions of the programme are longer. For example, Sessions 20 and 21 are based on the film, The Human Experience. They go deeper into some ‘life in Christ’ themes and focus on the social teaching of the Church. Each of these session lasts around two hours. These two sessions would work well run together on a Saturday or Sunday.
22 sessions is a very long programme. In our parish, we normally only do 10.
Indeed – 22 sessions (which essentially is equivalent to a full academic year) is longer than the average parish’s Confirmation course. However, we found that running a long programme at Holy Ghost, Balham resulted in deeper conversions and greater discipleship of the candidates. We therefore experienced very little treatment of this sacrament as an “exit sacrament” and found that almost all candidates continued in their practice of the faith afterwards (evidenced in Mass attendance, participation in youth ministry activities).
Having said this, I appreciate that it is a big ‘jump’ to 22 sessions, which may require a shift in culture.
I would recommend working towards a year-round programme in stages. You may try, in the first year, offering a 15-session programme. The first 15 sessions work well as a whole in preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation, and cover the whole of salvation history. Sessions 16-22 focus more on life in Christ and would work well as a post-Confirmation ‘mystagogia’. You could run these in the months following your Confirmation celebration, and perhaps it could lead into further youth ministry.
After two or three years, aim to do a full year’s preparation (do the full 22 sessions before the Confirmation). I am convinced this will result in deeper faith and openness to the Holy Spirit, which will result in a greater fruitfulness of this sacrament.
This means, however, that you will need a youth ministry in place to continue what you’ve begun, post-Confirmation…!
All this might seem daunting, but it is possible, and perhaps more importantly, needed for our young people. Check out the articles on the blog under ‘youth ministry’ to look for ideas to get started.
The Confirmation session pages on the website only include video clips. What are they for?
All of the content and information you will need to run this programme is available only in the Transformed in Christ Catechist’s Guide and Candidate’s Workbook.
Suggested video clips are included on this website for each session. These are all publicly available on the Internet and not created for this course. In the fast-paced world of new media, video clips such as these come and go – new, short video clips are constantly being produced. It is worth looking out for good examples to use in your programme. Those that have been selected for this programme are effective in helping reach the learning objectives. If you choose other clips, it is worth asking yourself, Is it faithful to Church teaching? Does it reflect the beauty of the faith? Is it reverent and appropriate for the subject matter? Does it contribute towards meeting the learning objectives? As helpful additions emerge, I will add them to each session page.
It is hoped, in time, to include further resources to help catechists run each session.
It seems that the Confirmation programme covers all the essential Catholic teachings. Is this necessary? Can’t we just teach the sacrament of Confirmation itself?
This is an interesting question.
Most Catholic teenagers are not taught the Catholic faith in its completeness and comprehensiveness at school, at home, or in the parish – that is, they are not taught the overarching narrative of the faith in its entirety, and how each part fits into the whole. This is certainly worthwhile for understanding how Confirmation fits into the bigger picture. Especially if we want to give them every possible chance of continuing their journey of faith.
Some may say, ‘they learn this in First Communion – why do it all over again at Confirmation?’ As we all know, our spiritual life develops as we develop as a human being, as our intellect and psychology develop. Our faith needs to ‘keep up’ with the other developments. What we were taught at 7 years old might help answer our 7-year-old questions, but is it still capable of answering our 14-year-old questions? The level of faith formation needs to be commensurate with our formation in all other areas of life.