Monday, 29 September 2014

Journeying in Community to the Fullness of Christ

Preparing to Celebrate Baptism, Confirmation 
and Eucharist

In 2014 the Christian Initiation Committee facilitated a conference for pastors, deacons, lay pastoral staff, school personnel, parishioners responsible for preparing others to celebrate Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist; and parish initiation team (RCIA) members.  The conference focused on fostering a fuller understanding of the primacy of Sunday and Eucharist as the repeatable sacrament of initiation. The conference was held in June at Providence Spirituality Centre, Kingston and in September at St. Pius X Parish, Brantford.

During the conference participants were invited to hear a little of the history of ‘growing up Catholic’ in Ontario during the years immediately before and after the Second Vatican Council and to realize that the current culture is quite different.  In light of paragraph 75 from the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults participants examined the depth and breadth of a Catholic life and critiqued current pastoral practices that support or contradict the vision of Sunday Eucharist as the repeatable sacrament of initiation. At both conferences participants were invited to dream about making small or large changes in their pastoral practices both in speaking about the sacraments of initiation within the parish and in ministering with candidates that would foster a deeper understanding of the primacy of Sunday and Eucharist as the repeatable sacrament of initiation in the lives of our Catholic people. A summary of the dreams follow.

v Establish an initiation process that respects the person’s readiness.
v A strong parish community that embraces their role as sponsors and mentors for those seeking initiation.
v To explain to those seeking initiation from the beginning that Sunday Eucharist is primary, the source and summit.
v Invite and form families to sponsor a child or adult seeking initiation.
v Develop ‘pew sponsors’ – a family or person for the family or person to sit with each Sunday.
v Celebrate well each and every Sunday.
v Eliminate time lines for the periods of formation – ie allow as much time as needed for the period of inquiry and catechumenate.
v Include meetings for families after they have celebrated Baptism with infants, Confirmation with young people and First Communion with children, to foster an awareness of the need for postbaptismal and ongoing catechesis.
v Get the Rite (RCIA) right!
v Pastors that work with the community and understand / embrace the rites of initiation.
v Celebrate the rites well so the community is engaged and able to pray with the inquirers, catechumens, candidates
v Embrace fully the apprenticeship model for all initiation.
v Taking the time necessary to become acquainted with the inquirers, catechumens, candidates
v Take the time to catechize parents prior to their children celebrating Confirmation or First Communion.
v Teach others – including families how to break open the Gospel.
v Learn and practice discernment. Stop being in a rush to initiate.

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