The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops sets the ordinary age of Confirmation between the age of discretion (around age eight) and about sixteen years of age, as determined by the local bishop. In the Archdiocese of Boston, the ordinary age has been Grade 10. Recently, the Archdiocese of Boston announced that Cardinal Seán has approved a proposal that will lower the ordinary age of Confirmation within the Archdiocese of Boston from Grade 10 to Grade 8, to be implemented over the next 2-3 years.
Why is this change being made?
For some time, the Archdiocese has been involved in an extensive consultation on a question of great importance: how to strengthen the participation of young people and their families in the life of faith in Jesus Christ lived out in our parishes, schools, and communities. Over the past several years, they have consulted with parents, young people, priests and deacons, and parish/school faith formation teams here in Boston and in other dioceses. The overwhelming consensus was to lower the age of Confirmation, which will:
- Decrease the gaps between the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation),
- Increase and strengthen the role of families in the faith formation of their young teens,
- Make the grace of this great Sacrament available to our young people in greater numbers, and at a critical time when they begin to encounter the demands and challenges of adolescence.
Over the coming months, the Archdiocese will be hosting meetings with clergy and parish leaders to share initial thoughts and questions about implementing this change in our parishes. After Easter, they will be releasing additional recommendations and guidance to parishes for implementing the change. The transition will happen carefully and thoughtfully over a period of time. The Archdiocese expects a phase-in period of several years, and pastors have discretion on how to best manage the change in their parishes.
We know that change – especially the anticipation of change – can be unsettling. Please know that we will continue to share information with you as we learn more from the Archdiocese, and begin discerning the path forward for our Collaborative.