The Confirmation Programme: Your Verdict! (Part 1)
Thank you to everyone who took part in the survey I sent out over the summer! You are heroes to spend your summery days clicking answers to multiple choice questions 🙂 Thank you. I wanted to capture the thoughts and feedback from as many parishes as possible who have used the Transformed in Christ Confirmation programme this year. I know that many people bought the books this year, reflecting on how to use them. So it is well worthwhile to hear from those who have used them to hear about their experiences.
Thirty parishes responded to the survey. In this post, I’m going to include how the programme was used and how effective it was. In the second post, I’ll comment on catechists’ comments about their own experience. Here is some analysis of the responses, divided into sections:
I have spoken so often about how important this is. I would go so far as to say it is pointless, perhaps harmful, to give catechesis to a young person who is not evangelised (who does not have a relationship with Jesus that is personal). If you are unfamiliar with the idea behind the evangelisation retreat at the beginning of the programme, see this post here.
Only 30% respondents said they did an evangelisation retreat this year. For some, this was because they didn’t have enough time to plan it. (The programme was launched last September.) Some said they had planned one for next year. For those who did it, the most effective outcomes were building a strong community among the group, and introducing them to Reconciliation and Adoration.
Which sessions did groups use?
Most people used between 15 and 20 sessions. 16% of those who answered heroically used all 22! Which were the most popular sessions? I won’t deny that I had a little gasp of delight as I spotted this… Session 2 – God, the Blessed Trinity was used by 100% of those who responded. What a result! The next most popular sessions were session 1 – Made for God and session 5 – Sin and Mercy. Good choices, people.
How did the session elements draw teens into a personal relationship with Christ?
I asked which elements of the session were most effective in doing this. By far the most effective was the time of prayer at the end of the session (91% said this helped the young people deepen their relationship with Christ). However, a couple of groups struggled with this, and one abandoned it altogether. I wonder whether training on how to lead young people into an encounter with Christ would be useful?
Finally, some comments:
Confession was made available to our candidates at every session and I was very encouraged by the way that many of the children went regularly to the sacrament. We were thrilled that all the candidates stayed with the programme and all said that they gained a lot from it
One young man was very reluctant to attend, but his father was very keen and supportive. So I challenged the teenager to attend first two consecutive sessions, and told him he could drop out after that with no questions asked if he wasn’t getting anything out of it. He never missed a single session after that and was confirmed to the delight of his father. Another mother with a somewhat rebellious teenage daughter was amazed at her daughter’s eagerness to attend, saying it was the only thing she didn’t have to nag her to get ready and out the house for. To me that was also partly due to the social element and seeing former friends from Catholic Primary school, but she was successfully confirmed at the end of it.
I think that this was a wonderful programme and had far more content in it than anything that we had done before so it was a learning curve for us all. After having delivered it once I think that next time we will be even better, Children enjoyed the discussion in large and small groups.
Some parents felt that the programme was too long and intense at the beginning but at the actual Confirmation one parent admitted that the commitment was well worth it.
Parents have realized that it is necessary to have a continuity in the Christian formation of their children. They asked to have something for them next year
Both adult catechists remarked how much they enjoyed the course, how it naturally lent itself to engaging this age group with bite-size chunks interspersed with film clips and opportunities to “buzz” in small groups
Thank you everyone for taking part and for your valuable comments.
[I will be speaking on September 19th at a day organised by the Guild of Our Lady and St Joseph (School of the Annunciation) in Plymouth. If you want to hear more about Transformed in Christ Confirmation programme, come along! For more info, see here.]