FOR PASTORS AND PARISH FORMATION LEADERS
Both canon law (889 §2) and the National Directory for Catechesis (36.A.2) call for adequate sacramental preparation for adults who wish to complete their Christian Initiation with the reception of Confirmation.
These adults do not belong with adolescents preparing for Confirmation, nor is it appropriate for them to be placed in the RCIA process, which is designed for catechumens and candidates for full communion. Adult Confirmandi are neither of these. They do, however, need sacramental preparation.
Adult Confirmation Requirements
In order to ensure the valid reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation, parish staff accompanies, assists, and provides guidance to individuals preparing for this sacrament.
I. FIRST MEETING
Every potential candidate for adult confirmation must schedule an initial meeting with the Pastor or his delegate for adult confirmation. Where possible, candidates are to provide a reliable phone number and e-mail address for future communications of announcements, reminders, etc.
During the meeting, the pastor or his delegate is to gradually and prudently discuss the individual’s faith and marital status background. Good pastoral care and sensitivity is needed to do this successfully. The individual’s sacramental and formation needs are then discussed, as well as the necessary details each person needs prior to admitting them to confirmation preparation. Below is information that will need to be taken into account during this first meeting and should be reviewed by the parish staff member beforehand.
Who may prepare to complete Christian Initiation by the reception of adult Confirmation? Baptized Catholic adults who have celebrated First Holy Communion and who do not have any impediments to receiving the Sacraments. If the individual is married or divorced, then the following will need to be ascertained:
1. Divorced: Catholics who are divorced, but not remarried or engaged, may prepare for Confirmation provided they acknowledge if this status changes, they MUST complete a petition for nullity on the failed marriage(s) BEFORE they marry in the Church. Failure to do so places them outside the state of grace, and unable to receive the sacraments.
2. Re-married: Catholics who divorce and re-marry without obtaining a formal decree of nullity on the prior failed marriage(s) (either their own, or their spouses) may not receive any of the Church’s sacraments unless they complete the required petition and the Church grants the annulment.
3. Married: Catholics seeking the sacrament of Confirmation must be married by the Church, either by a deacon or priest BEFORE receiving the sacrament of Confirmation (or Holy Communion, and Reconciliation). If a Catholic is currently married civilly, common-law, or by another Christian minister, they must marry in the Catholic Church prior to being confirmed. This is also called convalidation.
If there are any questions regarding marriage status, please contact the Archdiocesan Tribunal by email or 210-734-1661. Not all annulments or procedures require the same process; the tribunal will assist in determining what process may be necessary, and accompany the individual through that process. The above information is to provide basic information on common scenarios and questions.
II. REQUIRED DOCUMENTS
Each person is to submit a recent copy (where possible) of their dated certificate of Baptism. The original certificate issued at the time of baptism is not required. If the individual does not have such a copy at hand, they are to contact the parish (or diocese) where their baptism took place and request a new certificate. Certificates may be mailed, faxed, or scanned as an attachment. If a certificate of baptism for a Catholic individual cannot be obtained, please contact the Archdiocesan Archives Office by email or 210-734-1959 for assistance.
Each adult confirmand must have a sponsor, and be one (1) person. Sponsors must meet the following requirements at the minimum, but should be fully active in their own parishes, and be able to validly receive Holy Communion.
• Must be at least 16 years old
• Must be a practicing Catholic, fully initiated (Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation) in the Catholic Church
• Must not be parent, step-parent, or guardian of the adult
• If married, marriage must be formally recognized by the Catholic Church.
• Is not the spouse or fiancé of the intended participant
Confirmands should choose their sponsor carefully. Sponsors will be expected to validly receive Holy Communion during the Adult Confirmation Mass along with their Confirmands. It is strongly recommended then that all sponsors receive the sacrament of reconciliation proximate to the Adult Confirmation Mass.
Depending on the adult confirmand’s formation needs discerned during the first encounter, the parish staff member can recommend one of several alternatives for the required sacramental preparation. An individual could:
Option A. Take the parish-provided Adult Confirmation preparation. A sample Suggested Curriculum Outline can be found here.
Option B. Receive Adult Confirmation preparation at another parish or
Option C. Take the online-assisted Adult Confirmation preparation if neither a or b are possible. For Option C to be used successfully, the Adult Confirmand should be an experienced online learner with a reliable high-speed internet connection or Wi Fi and the ability to download and print materials. Information and procedure on Option C can be found in the document entitled Online-Assisted Adult Confirmation Preparation here.
The implications of each of these options should be part of the discussion. Whatever is chosen, it is the parish’s responsibility to assist and accompany each person seeking formation.
V. ONCE PREPARATION IS COMPLETE AND BEFORE THE CONFIRMATION CELEBRATION
The parish staff member also provides the adult confirmand the immediate instructions given by the Archdiocesan Office for Liturgy. Additional important information for parish staff can be found in Fact Sheet for Adult Confirmation which can be accessed here.
Arrangements are to be made for the adult confirmand to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation proximate to the celebration of the Adult Confirmation Mass. This is an important and necessary requirement for the valid reception of Confirmation. The sponsor is to be encouraged to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation as well to serve as the best possible witness to the confirmand. Please remind the adult confirmand that they and their sponsor are to present themselves at the designated parish for the Confirmation Mass one hour before the scheduled start for check-in, seating, and other essential details.
The pastor, his delegate, or another member of the parish known to the adult confirmand should ideally attend the Adult Confirmation Mass to accompany the confirmand and his/her sponsor in the name of the parish community to which the confirmand belongs. A Confirmation certificate is provided by the Archdiocese to the newly confirmed Catholic immediately following the Mass, and the confirmation is recorded in the sacramental registry at the parish where the Confirmation liturgy takes place.