In January 2024, Cardinal Seán approved a proposal to lower the ordinary age of Confirmation from Grade 10 to Grade 8, to be implemented over the next 2-3 years. Lowering the age of Confirmation 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 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.

The age of grade 8 (age 13-14) is a recognition that the experience of young people and their families has changed in recent years. Students in middle school are equipped to receive sacramental instruction and will benefit from receiving the sacramental grace and outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit before high school.

By making this change Cardinal Seán hopes to facilitate a renewal in family engagement in the life of the parish, especially Sunday Mass, and a renewal of youth ministry within parishes, that goes beyond sacramental preparation.

Some Answers to Frequently Asked Questions from Parents Regarding Confirmation Preparation

Are 8th graders ready for Confirmation?
This question reflects a common misconception that the Sacrament of Confirmation signifies maturity and adult commitment to the Church. The maturity that is required for receiving any of the sacraments of Christian initiation is only what is age–appropriate. The Church expects that a candidate preparing to be confirmed has a basic understanding of what the sacrament is and that they freely seek to receive it. To celebrate Confirmation requires nothing more by way of age-appropriate maturity than to receive the Eucharist. An authentic, mature commitment to Christ and the Church is expressed in lifelong participation in the Eucharist and apostolic life of the Church.

How can I help my child prepare for Confirmation? 
The best way for you to prepare your child for Confirmation is to let him or her see you living out your faith in an authentic way at home. Prioritizing participation at Sunday Mass, praying together and openly discussing faith as a family is the foundation for passing faith on to your child. It is less about what your child needs to know and more about him or her recognizing the invitation to have a relationship with Jesus and participate in the larger church community.

If children are confirmed in 8th grade rather than in high school, won’t they drop out of faith formation?
We hope not, though it is possible. Parents play a crucial role in whether or not they do. Confirmation has been misunderstood and often mistakenly viewed as graduation from faith formation. Growth in understanding and living out of our faith is the result of a lifelong effort. Parents have the first responsibility of being an example of Jesus Christ to each other and living the Gospel each day. Children are more likely to stay connected to the faith if they see their parents striving to grow in holiness through family prayer, scripture reading, Sunday Mass, regular Confession, and living a life of service and charity.

How will this age change affect high school youth ministry?
This change provides an opportunity for parishes to revitalize high school youth ministry. The Sacrament of Confirmation has sometimes been misused to motivate attendance. This approach risks teens feeling they are captives and being forced to attend meetings. The sacrament is one of initiation into Christian discipleship. Confirmation is not the end but a beginning, not graduation but initiation into a life of continued growth in the faith. Removing sacramental preparation from high school ministry allows parishes to evangelize, build teens up through formation, and send them out to minister and live as disciples of Jesus Christ.

For more frequently asked questions please see the complete document from the Archdiocese of Boston here: Confirmation FAQ for Parents