It continually surprises me when I get asked the question, “Can we just make Life Nights our parish Confirmation program?” Don’t get me wrong, I understand the reason for the question: not enough time to do Life Teen and Confirmation or you don’t have enough catechists or you’re trying to kill two birds with one stone (poor bird) or there isn’t enough facility space for every ministry. So don’t think I’m heartless when I say I’m surprised.
Confirmation is one of the Sacraments of Initiation and your Confirmation program is Sacramental preparation. Life Teen is a comprehensive Youth Ministry program that addresses the catechetical, spiritual and social needs of your teens. Both are separate ministries that serve separate needs: one is Sacramental preparation and the other, youth ministry.
Now work with me on this. The last time I checked, First Communion preparation didn’t take place during, say, the Liturgy of the Word for Children and preparation for the Sacrament of Matrimony is it’s own separate ministry, right? So why is it that we are trying to combine Sacramental preparation for Confirmation with Life Teen? Why are we making such a small deal out of this BIG Sacrament?
Trust me, I know how overwhelming it is to prepare both a Life Teen and Confirmation program for a parish. They are two Texas sized, foam cowboy hats to wear on one head. They both require two volunteer teams: Catechists and Core. They both demand different catechetical curriculums, another set of room reservations to fill out and one or two more retreats to plan and put on. But aren’t your teens worth it? Shouldn’t both their Confirmation preparation and Life Teen program be the best they can be? Of course, YES!
So, here are five ways to make a BIG deal out of Confirmation and create, for your teens, a lasting relationship with Christ that is sealed by the Holy Spirit.
1. Annual Confirmation Themes
Create an annual Confirmation theme that will reflect in your program kick off, retreats, rituals and workshops. Select a praise and worship theme song that can be played on retreats, ritual Masses and in their small or large group workshops. Create t-shirts that you can give out as gifts on retreat and Catechists can wear at large group meetings, events and retreats. Feel free to use the Life Teen theme that we break open every year. You can count on great Life Nights that can be turned into a kickoff night or a small or large group workshop within the calendar year. If our theme doesn’t work, make one up or check out our Oneight Confirmation program where we list various themes for your program.
2. Core/Catechists Retreat
Take your Catechists on retreat with your Core and possibly your music ministry for your youth Mass. Help everyone realize that they are part of the youth ministry program and they each have an important role to play in leading teens closer to Christ. In addition to retreat, invite your catechist to local Core Member University and Diocesan trainings to continue their formation. The more you invite your Confirmation Catechists into the vision of youth ministry the more they will go beyond a teacher/student relationship and enter Confirmation with a relational ministry approach. Life Teen has multiple Core Retreats available on YM.lifeteen.com so check them out and find one that fits where you team is on their personal, spiritual walk.
3. Confirmation Kickoff
Whenever a new semester kicks off for Life Teen, we encourage parishes to have a big semester kickoff. Why not do the same for your Confirmation program? Hold a large group session with praise and worship music, some icebreakers, talks and prayer. Have the teens break into their small groups for the year and meet their catechists. Have teens Confirmed the year before become Catechists In Training (CIT’s) to assist throughout the year. Make the night exciting and energizing and full of the Spirit already present in the teens through their Baptism.
4. Rites and Rituals
First, contact your diocesan director for the specific rites and rituals require of youth preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation to participate in. Utilize your Youth Mass to create Confirmation rites and rituals that invite the teens to make a deeper commitment to their faith while celebrating with the entire parish community. Invite Confirmation Sponsors, parents and the rest of the community to pray with and for the teens as they prepare for this special Sacrament. If your parish is multi-cultural, be sure to have bi-lingual Psalms and songs at appropriate times in the Mass. Utilize the theme song you have chosen for the year in the celebration and involved the teens to be very involved in special ways in the Mass.
5. Confirmation Retreats
Many parishes don’t have the resources to put on a weekend Confirmation Retreat for their teens. Many choose to do a one-day retreat or something at the parish. I want to encourage you to do a full, weekend, get out of town retreat. The Oneight Confirmation program has a great weekend retreat called “Emmaus” if you are looking for a retreat format. TRUE transformation takes place on weekend or week-long experiences such as retreat, mission trips and camps. The reason many Bishops require annual, weekend retreats is because they know how important and life changing they are. This is one sure fire way to make Confirmation BIG!
So there you have it, five ways to make a big deal out of your Confirmation program. If you need creative ideas for any of these suggestions, please give me a call or send me an email. Confirmation is a huge passion of mine and I would love to serve you by making your program bigger and better.