CHILDREN preparing for Christian initiation will be able to “savour the beauty of the sacraments” under the Brisbane archdiocese’s revised sacramental policy.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge promulgated a revised policy into the Christian initiation for children following a review undertaken last year into sacramental preparation of children in parishes.
The policy includes preparing children for Baptism, which was previously an assumed responsibility of parents, Confirmation, Holy Communion and Penance.
Children will receive Confirmation when they turn eight, Holy Communion at nine, and Penance as a two-step process beginning with a simple second rite in preparation for First Communion and a full celebration when they turn 10.
The new policy emphasises a “collaborative process: parish-based, family-centred and school-supported”.
Evangelisation Brisbane conducted the year-long review in sacramental preparation, consulting parish priests, sacramental coordinators, and families about the process of preparing children for the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, First Holy Communion, and Penance.
EB project team leader Ursuline Sister Kari Hatherell said the revised policy was about preparing children for the sacraments not teaching about them.
EB project officer Carole Danby said the overwhelming feedback from the review was to introduce the sacraments separately.
“Parents felt they were rushed,” Mrs Danby said.
“This was a way to breathe, if you’d like, giving families breathing space and time to savour of the beauty of the Sacraments.”
Sr Hatherell said children would be given more time between preparing for each of the Sacraments.
“It’s spaced out the sacraments for children,” Sr Hatherell said.
“It is a Sacramental journey that is marked by preparation in Year 3 for Confirmation, Year 4 for Eucharist, Year 5 for Penance, and therefore they’ll have connection to the parish in those three years.
“The idea is to try and keep people connected and have a sense of belonging.”
The archdiocese officially launched the revised policy at Holy Spirit School, New Farm.
At the launch, Archbishop Coleridge said certifying the young for the faith was “not enough”.
“We need to incorporate them into a community of faith and mission that enables them to meet Jesus Christ and introduce others to Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
He said the revision would be a “simple seed” that enriched the lives of children, their families, the archdiocese, and the wider Church.
Sacramental policies including the Brisbane archdiocese’s revised policy, vary across dioceses.
Under section 15 of Pope Paul VI’s decree concerning the pastoral office of Catholic Bishops, titled Christus Dominus, the Bishop of a diocese is responsible for the promotion and protection of liturgical life of the Church entrusted to him.
EB will continue to support parishes and families when the implementation of the revised policy takes life over the next two years.
The Brisbane archdiocese has also published a new website providing online resources for families who might be unfamiliar but “curious” about the sacraments of initiation.
The website, www.flameoffaith.org.au, includes basic text about the four sacraments and supplementary videos, produced by the Brisbane archdiocese.
“It’s a major task for parishes, each year, to prepare children and families for these four sacraments,” Sr Hatherell said.
“It takes enormous effort, creativity, endurance and faith and Evangelisation Brisbane works to support and resource parishes in this task”.