Christian Initiation

Being a Christian is not like being part of any club, organization, institution, or even nation. It is a life, indeed it is life in its truest sense for it is partaking of the Divine nature (2 Pet. 1:3-4). According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "the sacraments of Christian initiation - Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist - lay the foundations of every Christian life" (CCC 1212). The Christian life is something into which we are born (Baptism), within which we are strengthened (Confirmation) and given the food of eternal life (Eucharist).

History of Christian Initiation

In the period of the early Church, all three of the sacraments of initiation were celebrated together, usually at the Easter Vigil by the bishop. The Easter Vigil was the time of initiation for it the night when we celebrate most particularly Christ's resurrection; the resurrected life into which we enter in Christian initiation. Interestingly, the season of Lent originated as a time of immediate preparation for initiation by both those to be initiated into the Church and the community into which they would be incorporated. Later, after the toleration of Christianity and its eventual official status as the religion of the Roman Empire, the number of people seeking initiation into the Church rose dramatically. The pastoral necessity of baptizing large numbers, adults and infants (as often entire families were baptized) forced the Church to adapt its practice. The Church in the East favoured maintaining the unity of the sacraments of initiation and so allowed the priest to perform the Confirmation (or Chrismation). In the West, the Church chose to emphasise the role of the bishop in the life of the local

Church, and thus separated Confirmation from Baptism with the priests and deacons administering the baptism and the bishop administering the anointing (confirming the baptism) at a later time.

Over time, consciousness of the deep connection between Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist was lost, as theologians attempted to interpret the practice of their day, often without an awareness of the history of the practice. Baptism was interpreted as the sacrament of salvation (washing away sin instead of incorporating one into the being and life of Christ), while Confirmation was seen more as sacrament of maturity.

Despite the separation of these sacraments both in time and in the minds of the faithful, their order remained unchanged until the beginning of the 20th century. Pope St. Pius X, in an effort to encourage more frequent communion, lowered the age of first communion to the age of reason (about 7 years old). However, Confirmation was still celebrated in the teen years.

The Second Vatican Council, drawing from the best historical scholarship and Patristic theology (the writing and teaching of the Christians of the first several centuries), affirmed the fundamental unity of the sacraments of initiation. This is seen, for example, in the formation of the in which adults (and non-baptised children above the age of seven) are baptised, confirmed, and receive first communion at the Easter Vigil. In the case of children baptised when under the age of seven, confirmation is still celebrated at a later age determined by the local bishop.

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is a process in which adults come to celebrate any of the Sacraments of Initiation. Since many variations occur in adults, each person's situation is evaluated individually. Please call or email the Parish Office if you are over the age of 18 and wish to celebrate any of the Sacraments of Initiation.

I'm interested in Baptism

Currently, the practice of Baptism depends on age. If you're a Catholic parent and wish to have a child who is under 7 years of age baptized, the process is relatively straightforward and is described here (link to baptism page).

When the one who is seeking baptism is a young person over seven years of age, but still too young to participate in the process for adult Baptism, they are to participate in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children. It is similar to the adult process, but adapted to their age.

If you are an adult seeking baptism, you must participate in the Rite of Christian of Adults. Call or email the Parish Office for information on this process.

I'm interested in Confirmation

If you're an adult baptized Catholic, but haven't much catechesis or haven't been regularly participating in the life of the Church, you will need to participate in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

If you are catechized, or a regular participant in the life of the Church, the process will likely be streamlined. Call the Parish Office for details.

If you've been baptized in another Christian community and wish to enter the communion of the Catholic Church you may need to be confirmed. Call or email the Parish Office for details.

If you're a baptized young person, aged 11 and up, and seeking Confirmation, you'll find more information here (link to Confirmation page).

I'm interested in First Communion

If you have a child that has been baptized as an infant and is between the ages of 7 (or younger if considered ready) and 11 and you wish them to celebrate First Communion, you'll find more information here (link to First Communion page)