Christian Initiation Past Age 7


My granddaughter and I are in a bit of a dilemma. She is 7 years old. I have legal guardianship of her. The only decision I cannot legally make, is what religion she will belong to.

I am Catholic and actively practice Catholicism in the home. Both parents are aware of this and “don’t mind” if my granddaughter learns prayers, goes to Mass with me, etc. My granddaughter has had a strong love for Mary since she was 3, and is learning to say the rosary.

My granddaughter want to take Communion, but hasn’t been baptized and can’t even go to CCD because this is a requirement. The parents will allow her to be baptized if it is her choice. I really wanted her to be able to receive some education from someone besides me, but we are in a catch 22 Besides, I just learned that the CCD class is a 2 year course, so even if she received baptism, she wouldn’t be able to receive First Connunion with children her own age.

So what happens with children who miss First Communion at age 7? They are too young for RCIA. How do they receive a CCD education, without having to take classes with children much younger than themselves?


In my parish they would simply do the preparation the next year. With my oldest we had to do the preparation ourselves and once they’d finished they went for an interview with the priest and if he saw that indeed they were ready they received at the next Mass they attended.

But your granddaughter has another problem, she needs to be baptized.

At the age of 7 she has reached the age of reason and is canonically considered an adult. Therefore she could be in RCIA to prepare for Baptism. Then she would be baptized, confirmed and receive her First Communion in the same ceremony at the Easter Vigil. Obviously she wouldn’t be attending the same classes that the adults do but she could be prepared according to her level of comprehension. We did that in our parish for a 9 year old.


The idea of making her own choice of religion is interesting. As far as the Church is concerned, children over the age of 7 have reached the age of reason. This means, that as Phemie has said, they go through RCIA – they are no longer infants, but adults for baptismal purposes. This means that they do indeed have to choose to be baptized.

And to reinforce what Phemie said, this does not mean that they sit in classes with adults to learn about the faith. That wouldn’t be good for anyone. They go through RCIA as adapted for children and attend classes with other children their age. However, they go through the same rites that the adults do – Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, Rite of Election, and complete sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil.


I came back to the faith about 2 years ago. I had not baptised my children who, at the time, were 10 and 7. I called my parish and they said they needed to attend their CCD classes. It didn’t matter that they were older. The classes are varying ages as there are a lot of different circumstances involved. Everyone is different.

Classes started in Sep here and they went to the sacraments class. Many were not baptised. They were working towards 1st communion that next Spring. They were baptised in January, 1st confession in Feb and then 1st communion in April. They had to be baptised before the other sacraments obviously but the church made arrangements for everyone. My 10 year old did not feel out of place as there were many his age and some were even older.

I think each diocese is different and they work within parameters set down by the Church. I would call your parish office and speak with your pastor. I am sure there is an avenue for your granddaughter :slight_smile:


Thank you. Your answers are very helpful.


She is NOT too young fro RCIA…it’s called OCIC (the last “c” referring to children) in some places. It’s the same Rite, but there should be a class fro these children at your parish. If she goes through Children’s RCIA, she will receive Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation at the Easter vigil.
You do not have to wait until the 2 years have passed. The 2 year requirement for Sacraments is fro children who were Baptized at a younger age than seven. and have been attending Religious Ed classes all along.
Go see the DRE at your parish, and if your parish does not have a program and they are not willing to teach her individually, then seek another parish. I’m currently teaching 4 children this way, and 2 others in Spanish.
Good luck.


Worth noting, in some areas, the child might only receive baptism and first communion if significantly younger than the confirmation age (though this is not the norm).

For example, I was visiting the parish I was baptized and confirmed in (different diocese than where I live) and there was a 10 year old at the Easter Vigil. She was baptized with her mom, but did not receive conformation with everyone else. She then received first communion with everyone.

I was a bit surprised, because when my younger cousins went trough RCIA in the same parish (though 25 years ago) they were confirmed and I still had to wait for another year of CCD.


CIC (Canon Law) shows the age categories of infant (0-6), minor (7-17), and majority (18). Minors with the use of reason, use the adult baptism process.Can. 97 §1. A person who has completed the eighteenth year of age has reached majority; below this age, a person is a minor.
§2. A minor before the completion of the seventh year is called an infant and is considered not responsible for oneself (non sui compos). With the completion of the seventh year, however, a minor is presumed to have the use of reason.

Can. 852 §1. The prescripts of the canons on adult baptism are to be applied to all those who, no longer infants, have attained the use of reason.
§2. A person who is not responsible for oneself (non sui compos) is also regarded as an infant with respect to baptism.


They go to an adapted RCIA.

This practice is illicit.

Canon 622


It is not a matter of missing first communion when she is 7, but not being baptized before she is 7. Communion, confirmation and baptism are only separated when a child receives infant baptism. Infant baptism is any baptism before the age of reason (i.e. 7 years old). If she is baptized after she is 7 she would receive all 3 sacraments at the same time.

For example, my oldest daughter was just shy of 8 and my oldest son was 5 1/2 when my wife decided to convert. Since both my wife and daughter were not baptized and were of the age of reason, then were both baptized, confirmed and received the Eucharist on the Easter vigil. My wife went through RCIA while my daughter attended a modified version called RCIC. My son was baptized a few weeks later, but then received first Eucharist at 7 1/2 and confirmation at 15. So even though she is only 2.5 years older than him, my eldest daughter has been confirmed 9 years longer than he has.

If your granddaughter is 7 and choses to be baptized in the Catholic Church, she will have chosen to be Catholic and would be fully initiated in the Church. She could go to CCD classes after receiving the sacraments of initiation, but she would not receive the sacraments with her class mates. At least not at the same time as they would.


Did you perhaps mean a different canon? Canon 622 has nothing to do with sacraments.

Canon 622 states:
The supreme moderator holds power over all the provinces, houses, and members of an institute; this power is to be exercised according to proper law. Other superiors possess power within the limits of their function.


My bad. Canon 866.


Keep in mind that the child in question is 7 years old, so therefore is still considered an “infant” for baptism since they have not **completed **their 7th year. So the case can be made that the pastor may indeed baptize the child and then place the child in the appropriate sacramental preparation programs based on the age the sacraments are conferred in that diocese.

Can. 97 §2. A minor before the completion of the seventh year is called an infant and is considered not responsible for oneself (non sui compos). With the completion of the seventh year, however, a minor is presumed to have the use of reason.

Children 8 and older should certainly follow the adult process. But the pastor has the final word, and while we can recommend and point out the law, none of the sacraments are *invalid *by failing to follow the RCIA canons and rites.


No, you’re doing your math wrong. At the end of the first year a child turns one, and at the end of the seventh year the child turns seven. Unless you think the age of majority is nineteen.

Can. 97 §1. A person who has completed the eighteenth year of age has reached majority; below this age, a person is a minor.


Of course it is not invalid, nevertheless grave cause is a high bar so routinely failing to confirm children who convert and are baptized after reaching the age of reason is certainly illicit.


Ah yes, thank you. Wasn’t thinking about zero age as the starting point! ha!

But, ultimately, the pastor administers the sacraments and even though our diocese puts out information on this **EVERY **year, and reminds that children are to follow RCIA processes, I have **yet **to meet a pastor who follows it. And, I’ve been involved in RCIA for 20 years.




The only time we’ve ever had a child catechumen our Pastor took his lead from the RCIA coordinator and we did every rite right. I don’t think he’d dealt with converts much before. Of course, neither have we, there have only been that child and one other in my 17 years here, an Anglican who had already been coming to Mass for years with her husband and daughters.


The reason that many (or maybe most) parishes do not use RCIA for children is that its just impractical for the parish. RCIA ministry volunteers often feel ill equipped to teach children younger than high school. The material has to be adapted to be taught to children and they simply don’t know how to do that. Teaching younger children is an art that not everyone is comfortable with.

Placing an unbaptized child in CCD classes is probably the best thing to do since the information is geared towards their grade and age. But to do that puts us in a quandary of how to administer the sacraments. To withhold the sacraments of initiation until the year of confirmation can seem a bit much. Asking the child to wait 2, 3, 4, 5 years to receive baptism could turn off the family.

Of course, they could receive all the sacraments of initiation after a year or two and continue attending classes. However that runs into the problem of annoying other families that they have to wait for the sacraments while that family did not. It also poses the question of: will the child continue to show up to classes once all the sacraments of initiation are received?

Baptizing and giving first communion, and waiting until the usual confirmation age to receive it with their classmates is the Solomonesque compromise that many pastors have adopted. Heck, my diocesan paper did a front page story about a elementary school convert who received baptism and first communion and will receive confirmation years later at the usual age. So apparently the practice is so widespread that no one at the diocesan paper even blinked an eye at it.

I wouldn’t be too harsh on pastors who follow that route, the are simply balancing the many issues that come into play.



What my parish has done – and while it works for us maybe it wouldn’t work for others – is to have the children in RCIA attend classes in two separate ways. We have them enroll in the parish religious education program so that they are with other children their own age. We also have one person who works with the one or two or three children that we have in RCIA at any given time. She meets with the children and their parent(s) once or twice a month to cover additional material and just talk with them about what it means to be a Catholic. She prays with them, she talks about things like going to Mass, she makes sure they understand any rite that is coming up, she encourages them and supports them. So far it’s working well for us. Her role also ends up being outreach to the parents. They have generally not been practicing Catholics (which is why the children weren’t baptized earlier). So she encourages them and answers their questions, deals with issues they raise, etc.

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