The Archdiocese of Liverpool has announced plans to change the order in which young people receive the sacraments of Christian Initiation, placing Confirmation before First Communion.
Beginning in the fall of 2012, children above the age of 8 will be invited to receive Confirmation and First Communion between the feasts of the Ascension and Corpus Christi.
They will be encouraged to make their first Confessions later in the year, during Advent, Catholic Culture reports.
“In recent years in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, most Catholics have been baptised as babies, made their First Communion around age seven, and been confirmed when teenagers,” the Archdiocese says in a statement on its website.
“These three sacraments make up the process of belonging to the Church (called Christian Initiation). The sacraments weren’t always in that order, and adults preparing for initiation have always received them in the original order: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist (Communion),” the statement continues.
“From September 2012 in this Archdiocese, children who have been baptised will follow that same order. Those aged eight by the first of September 2012 will be invited to receive Confirmation and First Communion in the days between Ascension Sunday and the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) in 2013, and the same pattern will be followed each year after that.
“At the same time the way children are prepared for these sacraments will change. Instead of teachers, catechists and priests teaching children and parents about the sacraments, they will help the parents to hand on their own faith to their children, fulfilling the privileges and responsibilities expressed in the Rite of Baptism. New resources will help parents to prepare their own children for these sacraments with the support of the local church community.
“These changes are meant to help us understand that sacraments are gifts of God’s grace, that parents are the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith, and that we are all called to get to know Jesus better throughout our life’s journey,” the statement concludes.