March 3, 2019, Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gift of the Father
Pastoral Letter from the Most Reverend James Sean Wall
On the Restoration of the Order of the Sacraments of Initiation
(Final in Series)
To the Faithful of the Diocese of Gallup:
How will it take place?
Our new diocesan policy will be fully implemented over the next three years. The progressive lowering of the age for Confirmation will take place as follows:
Invite all those of High School age to begin preparation in the Fall of 2019 to be celebrated in the Spring of 2020, 8th graders if the
pastors wish, may be included in this group.
Invite all 6th graders and older to begin preparation in the Fall of 2020, to be celebrated in the Spring of 2021.
Invite those in 4th grade and older to begin preparation in the Fall of 2021 to be celebrated in the Spring of 2022.
Invite those in 3rd grade and older to begin preparation in the Fall of 2022 to be celebrated in the Spring of 2023.
In smaller parishes this schedule can be adjusted to allow for a quicker step down process, keeping in mind that children of very different ages will require different approaches in preparation for the sacraments.
There will always be the possibility of children older than 3rd grade seeking the Sacrament, especially those who move into our diocese from other areas, as well as adults who seek the reception of Confirmation. For this reason, there will have to be available an intergenerational model of catechesis or catechists prepared to take on classes of different age groups to prepare them for Confirmation.
Living the life-long commitment
As we know, the sacraments (particularly the Sacraments of Initiation) are means and not ends in themselves. They are an introduction and aids to living an authentically Christ-like life, to prepare ourselves for our passage into our longed-for eternal life in heaven and to give a clear witness to the world. Perhaps the biggest challenge parishes will face with this change in policy will be the need to develop creative programs to accompany, form and integrate young members of the parish – now fully initiated – into the life of the Church. Therefore, our catechetical program after the 3rd grade will no longer be tied to the reception of a sacrament, which will offer the diocese and parishes the possibility of developing resources, programs and activities that will help our young Catholics grow in their faith, discern their vocation and prepare for that Christian vocation as they approach adulthood. The diocese welcomes the possibility of discerning new experiences and best practices that the parish communities develop to share with the rest of the diocese.
As we implement these new policy changes we are attempting to face the great challenges of our time. I want to thank the pastors of the diocese for their very faithful service to their flocks. I ask you to work closely with the families of your communities to help them accomplish their vocation as first catechists and witnesses of their faith. The parish should become a community of communities where the family, the domestic Church, can find guidance in the Word of God, strength in the Sacraments and support in their daily struggles. Your assistance to the families of your parish to provide them with what they need to accompany their children in their pilgrimage of faith is invaluable. May the Good Shepherd bless you continually in your ministry of guiding your parish community.
May Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Diocese of Gallup and our Mother, Saint Kateri Tekakwithia, heroic witness to the faith, intercede for all of us, for you and your families, and may the Lord bring to completion the good work He has begun in us.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Bishop James S. Wall
Bishop of Gallup