Christian Initiation for Children
Children and youth over the age of 6 who ask for baptism on their own or at the direction of the parents or guardians are prepared for Initiation in a way similar to the adult process. This part of the process can also accommodate children already baptized Catholic but who have not learned about their faith, have not been confirmed and who have not received first Eucharist.  

 

Children and youth begin the Initiation process in August, preparing for the Rite of Acceptance. We ask the parents to be actively involved with their children during the months they are in formation for Initiation. We offer family sessions and some family activities. Also, the children are to be registered for regular Faith Formation classes while they are in formation for Initiation AND after they have been initiated into the Church. Children cannot learn their faith in only a few months - it takes a lifetime - and so we ask the parents to make a commitment to ongoing faith formation for their children.

 

First Ritual: Rite of Entry into Catechumenate
After preparation for this ritual, the children begin their formal preparation as they seek to become members of the Church. Through a special LITURGICAL RITE they ask to be accepted into the Catholic family and the Church accepts them as candidates. They are now called CATECHUMENS.
(In a few cases, children or youth may already be baptized in another Christian tradition. If this is the case, they are called CANDIDATES, and the number of rituals they will experience will be similar to but not the same as those who are not yet baptized).
 
 

Catechumenate: from September until the First Sunday of Lent
The Catechumens begin a journey, which takes them through a time of reflecting and sharing the scriptures and the teachings of the church. The Lectionary becomes the basis and food for the journey. The family sessions on Sundays are built upon the Sunday readings.

 

Second Ritual: Rite of Election (First Sunday of Lent)
When the Church community believes the catechumens have had sufficient instruction and catechesis and they have expressed the desire to become one with the community, they are called to a new stage of spiritual preparation. This moment of DISCERNMENT and CALL is celebrated in the RITE OF ELECTION, which usually takes place at the cathedral with the local Bishop and the catechumens from around the diocese. (Those who are already baptized are "called to continuing conversion")

 

Enlightenment (during season of Lent)
During this period of spiritual preparation for the Easter sacraments, the Lectionary and Sacramentary are the basis for spiritual reflection. Times of prayer and shared reflection are important. The Scrutiny ritual is part of the Lenten journey - during the Scrutiny Rite we pray for the children and youth to be cleansed of sin and strengthened in goodness.

 

Rite of Full Initiation at Easter Vigil
On this holy night, the unbaptized children and youth enter the community of the faithful in full membership through the Sacraments of Initiation - Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Those children or youth who are already baptized make a Profession of Faith to the Church, are confirmed as Catholics and receive their First Eucharist. It is a solemn and joyous moment in the life of the Church and is a living response to the Easter mystery.

 

Mystagogia
This time between Easter and Pentecost is very important to the newly initiated Catholic. It is the time to share their experience of conversion, their journey in Christ, their experience of the Vigil. During this time they are initiated into the wider community and prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It is very important for the children and youth to come to the Eucharist on these Sundays of Easter and to deepen their understanding of the Eucharist through the Word proclaimed, through the presence of the community and through reception of the Body and Blood of Christ.

 

During the Easter season, we ask the children and their families to meet several times to reflect on the experience of Initiation and to also reflect on what it means to now be part of the Catholic community in their daily lives.

 

After the Easter season, they should continue to take part in the Mass every week as this celebration both informs and strengthens their faith. Also, a reminder that children and youth cannot learn their faith in only a few months - it takes a lifetime - and so we ask the parents to make a commitment to ongoing faith formation for their children until they have completed high school.

THIS JOURNEY OF FAITH NEVER ENDS....