How to Welcome the Newly Initiated
May 1, 2017
This past week our confirmation candidates made their way to the Basilica of St. Mary and received the completion of their initiation into the life of the Catholic Church. I struggle with what Confirmation is becoming for too many of our young people. Instead of seeing this moment as an entry point into a deeper life in the Church; too many look at this as the graduation moment in which the parents will back off on their demands and the fully initiated member now begins their journey away from the Church..
Somewhat problematically, as a community, we make very little space for these new full members to take their place with us. When we discover that there are ministries that we really enjoy for ourselves we often stay involved in them until our health does not permit us to do them anymore. We can reason that there are very few to pass the ministry on to since the young people seem to not come to Church after they are confirmed. As always, instead of confronting the culture we are living in, it is easier to blame those who choose not to participate in it. I keep thinking that there has to be some sort of a passing of the torch to our newest full members so that they feel needed and that they belong. I bring this idea up off and on to different people who are involved in the ministries around the church. More often than not the responses I get are hesitant and self-reflective: “that would mean that I might not get to read as much” or “I really like distributing Holy Communion to others.” And they are not really negative to the idea, but they don’t want to minimize their own experiences.
I am not sure how to get past this quandary, but I would love to have a deeper parish discussion about this. I worry about the growing gap as these wonderful young people move away from the church. Some for a period of time before they start their new families and others for the rest of their lives. I really do think it has as much to do with how we operate as it does with the individuals who choose not to enjoy the great gift of full initiation.
On a similar yet different tangent: Thank you young parents as you create the domestic church in your homes. Thank you for bringing your little ones to church and allowing them to experience the richness of our Catholic culture. In many ways, you are the hope that sustains my spirits as I worry for those who will be checking out for a while.