Change in Confirmation Protocol for the Diocese of Wichita
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
One of the important responsibilities I have as a bishop is to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation for the baptized. In paragraph 1285, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Baptism, the Eucharist and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the ‘sacraments of Christian initiation,’ whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace.”
Because Confirmation is important “for the completion of baptismal grace,” it is incumbent upon all of us, who have the responsibility of leading others to Christ, we who are parents, grandparents, guardians, bishop, pastors and catechists, to ensure that the baptized receive all the graces they need for the living of the Christian life, essential among them being the seal of the Holy Spirit that marks the soul at the moment of the laying on of hands and the anointing with Chrism in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
For a number of years now, it has been the practice of the Diocese of Wichita to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation during the high school years. Since my arrival here now almost five years ago, I have enjoyed the many confirmations of high school aged youth in our diocese. I have found that most have been properly formed and prepared for this sacramental encounter with the Risen Christ.
At the same time, I have been mindful that societal and cultural changes indicate to me and many others that youth today are facing a much different world than the rest of us could have ever imagined when we were their age. I am also aware that we “lose” a certain number of candidates for confirmation in these years due to excessively busy schedules, the drifting away of parents and families from the regular practice of the faith and the generally acknowledged challenge to catechize young minds and hearts at this particular time of life. These are real challenges that parents, catechists, and pastors encounter when they are trying to prepare youth for this grace.
With this context in mind, after much discussion, discernment and prayer, I have decided to change the age for reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation for the Diocese of Wichita. The new age will be for those children in the sixth and seventh grade. The next two to three years will be years of making this transition. During this transition time, multiple years of youth will be confirmed so as to arrive eventually at a schedule which will allow me to visit each parish or cluster of parishes for confirmation every other year. My staff is now working on the details of this transition with pastors.
I have asked the Catholic School Office and the Faith Formation Office to begin the work of identifying resources for schools, and faith formation programs so as to transition the preparation geared to a younger age. I am grateful to the pastors and all involved in the ministry of sacramental preparation as we adapt ourselves to a new practice for our diocese.
I announce this change primarily in order to provide the essential grace of the sacrament at an earlier age and at a time, when generally speaking, minds and hearts are more open to receiving it. Simply put, I believe our children require the grace of confirmation much sooner than in high school and at a time when perhaps they are more open to a transcendent moment of grace.
Thank you for your kind attention to this important change in our Confirmation protocol for the Diocese of Wichita.
+The Most Rev. Carl A. Kemme, D.D.
Bishop of Wichita