Confirmation/service hours

For confirmation (which happens second semester of the 8th grade year in our diocese) our parish requires 25 hours of service, 5 of those to the church. In the confirmation materials, it does not exclude serving at mass for those service hours. I found out through other parents that it does not count. I am dumbfounded.

Is this normal practice to not count serving mass for confirmation service hours?
It seems to me that if there were one form of service to your parish, this would be the most important and the one most likely to deepen a child’s faith in the Eucharist.


What exactly do service hours have to do with receiving a sacrament?

What do service hours have to do with confirmation? I’m pretty sure Jesus required them prior to Pentecost…:wink:

Our parish requires 25 hours of service, 5 of which with your sponsor, participation in a retreat, a reflection paper, and a paper on the saint chosen for the confirmation name.
But serving at mass cannot count towards those service hours. Has anyone else experience this?

My middle school made me do hours all three years. 10 in 6th grade. 16 in 7th grade. 20 in 8th grade. And if you were in the National Junior Honor Society (7th and 8th grades) you had to do an additional 20 hours for every year your in it.

I haven’t experienced that. I altar served and read during Mass and it went to my hours. I understand why they do it. They want you to do those things because you WANT to not for the hours. But let’s be real. Would the average 8th grader drive 30 minutes to a bad neighborhood to feed homeless people at 9 in the morning on a Saturday because they WANTED to?

My spouse used to say [in jest] that they were “giving up smoking for Lent” :)…

I would respond that it was impossibe to “give up something you don’t do” … :wink:

The Conformandi - members of that fatih community should already be participating - actively - in the Mass - even serving…

Think of it this way - we are called by our baptism - to be a priest, prophet and king - a member of a community of faith … this community comes together to celebrate at the Lord’s Tabl, the Holy Sacrafice of the Mass … as members of that faith community we are to actively participate in that Holy Sacrafice [we are not mere observers] …

As members who are deepening their faith, coming to an adult response to the faith and their life as Christians …

They are being called to extend that faith into their lives, the greater parish and their communities … hence they are being called serve more … to serve beyond and in addition to what they are already [or should] be doing …

Also, 25 hours is really no hardship given the nearly 9 months of formation most Confirmation programs require. It seems like a huge amount - its not … my daughter served at a local soup kitchen every Wednesday for over three years amongst other activities - she never even had to count hours for her Conformation - having hours was never in doubt. And even better was that she started helping out months before Conformation was even thought of … Now in her 30’s, the mother of three - she remains a lovng, caring and active Christian.

Don’t get me wrong, I think service is a wonderful thing to encourage in our children, but isn’t that something we as parents should be modeling for our children to begin with? Rather than imposing a specific number of hours on kids maybe the diocese should be more assertive in encouraging everyone to be serving others and the Church, then it wouldn’t be needed.

Does the parish/diocese require a specific number of service hours to adults going through RCIA?

Also, I agree that it seems strange that serving at the liturgy wouldn’t “count” toward those hours.

Oh and I was just asking, because as an Eastern Catholic, my children were confirmed as infants immediately after baptism, so I was honestly asking what service hours had to do with receiving the grace of God in the sacrament of confirmation/chrismation.

Personally, I think that the requirement to do XYZ things (unrelated) to receive a sacrament is kinda weird. My parish didn’t do it, and I’m glad. Even if they did, I’d be fine, but confirmation is not a community service push. It’s a christian’s personal Pentecost where the holy spirit comes into them in a special way.

Noithing. It is one of my biggest gripes, especially when service to the parish is required. It smacks of simony as well as trying to “work” our way to heaven. :mad:

That being said, against all my protests, our parish requires 20 service hours. They just changed the rules to no longer allow altar serving but there is no requirement that any of them be at Church. They give the kids two years to complete the hours.

In my diocese, parishes are not allowed to require service hours as a prerequisite for Confirmation, because a child can not “earn” a sacrament. Service hours are encouraged, however, for exactly the reasons that Yada stated in post # . The children are members of the faith community and are approaching adulthood. They need to learn the adult response to faith, which is to extend their faith into their daily lives. And so, we provide opportunities for the kids to volunteer their time and talents. And I have found that for the most part, the kids have no problem with that.

You know, actually, we do ask the RCIA candidates/catechumens to do some service in the parish. They are not forced to, and it is not a requirement, but we will ask them to help out with the coat drive, or coffee and donuts, or some other activities. They are happy to help. It doesn’t have anything to do with receiving the Sacraments, but is a good way for them to get to know others in the parish and to see what activities there are and opportunities for service in the parish. We have always had positive responses to this from both the parishoners and the candidates/catechumens.

Yes but the issue I had was not with asking people to serve the parish it was requiring community service to receive a sacrament. On top of that of course most adults who want to join the Church are going to be willing to participate in activities, otherwise they wouldn’t be there.

Asking those in RCIA to serve in the parish as a way to get them involved in the parish and requiring service to be received into the Church are not the same thing.

in this diocese confirmation directors are specifically prohibited from requiring a log of a set number of “service hours” as a prerequisite for confirmation. the prescription rather is “a service project assigned by the pastor.” In this parish that means practically any of a number of service opportunities that arise in the life of the parish, and altar server is no. 1 on the list, assisting with CCD for younger children is no.2, choir is no. 3, then all the other events.

why not ask the pastor directly instead of relying on hearsay?

btw we are not allowed to prevent any child of age and otherwise prepared and properly disposed from receiving confirmation because they did not do a service project or make the retreat. we may not take attendance at Mass either.

I would think some of the reasons why serving at mass wouldn’t count is because they would rather have the candidates have an equal opportunity to earn their service house, say at a parish dinner, or at a parish festival. Plus I think its to encourage the candidates to seek out volunteering in areas they are not normally accustom to.

Personally I too do not agree with the service hours requirement. But that’s a totally different arguement.

Glad to hear that. They were taking attendance at mass for the confirmation kids at the last Latin Rite parish I attended. It drove me nuts.

Dear Donahuec,

I am curious to know what some of the suggestions are for fulfilling your service requirements? What are some of the other kids doing and what are some of the suggested activities?

I agree that the requirement of a certain number of hours could be veiwed as ‘pruchasing’ a sacrament … However, it seems to me that receiving a Sacrament requires more then a mere request …

Take RCIA … at several times through the formation experience … the community is asked to pass a judgement [or make a statement tot he affect] that the person has “evidenced” their lifein Christ and the Church …

Similarly, candidates for Holy Orders [the priesthood/Deaconate] are presented to the faith community to be scrutinized as to their actions … not merely their verbal assertions …

The requirement to illustrate ones intentions to live a Christian life [Confirmation being one of the three Sacraments of Initiation] by service to God and community is not out of the norm … historically or in the modern era … lip service is far easier then ‘sweat equity’ …

And yes, adults should be modeling this for their children - just as they should regualr attendance at Mass and a host of other Christian actions …

On the other side I can imagine that we all have experienced those marginal Catholics who get their children baptized solely to please a grandparent not because they themselves attend Mass … same with First Eucharist … for some parents they hvae not graced the Chruch with their presence since the baptism … and they complain about Communion Classes … Ugh …

I would hazard the proposition that if a majority of parents were actively occupying pews on Sunday and being models for their offspring of the importance of living a life of charity and alsoi regularly receivced the Sacraments [especially the Euchairst and Reconcilliation], supported their parishes, etc … you would see fewer ‘requirements’ [like performing charitable acts] in need of enumenration … because the people would already be living that ideal … However, until that is the reality - the Church needs to be more explicit in its expectation for its members …

I have been involved with my parish’s Confirmation program for 11 years and other programs before that. Service hours are part of our program. We ask that each candidate serve at least 20 hours. We build 8-10 hours into the instructional programming - even during class time. Service hours are used to help the students see the need in the community/world/church. We would rather give them some “training” in how to serve one another - as opposed to leaving it to their parents to guide them. It is good for them to go out of their regular routine to see how others need help.

We do allow altar serving to count as hours, but I personally try to discourage my students who have been servers since the fourth grade and serve every other week to count the hours. On the other hand, I encourage the teens who are not servers yet to become a server. Over the years I have had a couple to become servers. I would allow these guys to count the hours.


I am not sure how to react to such a statement from someone who is being asked by those very parents to give religious education to their children. Do they (and your pastor/DRE) know you feel that way? Do you know that such an attitude is clearly in violation of the Church’s teaching on parents as the primary educators of our children? It is not up to you or anyone else on the Church’s staff to “train” my children unless I specifically request it (ie training to altar serve)!

If anyone at my parish tried to do that or expressed what you just did, I would be yanking them from Religious Ed so fast and making an appointment to meet with the pastor and then the Archbishop as soon as I possibly could. :mad:

Wow. Sorry if I struck a nerve.

We have many families that do a wonderful job at being the primary catechists to their children. We also have many families that admittedly fall short. I am in no way suggesting we (catechists) are the primary catechists. The parish offers many opportunities for parents and families to learn about our faith. They are poorly attended, but they are offered. Depending on the class, when a catechist asks his or her class “Who went to Mass this week?” only a 3rd to half of the hands go up.

I think my intent came over incorrectly. Not that the OP was coming from this way of thinking, but many families really throw a fit over their kid having to do service hours, go on a retreat, go to class so much - because their kid is going to be on the next World Cup team.

I do know for a fact that many families “put their kids through” religious ed to keep the grandparents happy or because “they have to”. Many of them only “show-up” for the sacrament prep years.

I am sure the years of seeing this has made me a little jaded.

It probably came across much worse than you wanted it to. I understand what you are saying. Just observing even some of the families at our former parish school, there are the very proactive parents, very much into their faith. And then there are other families that the only religious education their child may be getting is that hour or so on a Sunday morning or the 15 minutes at the end of a school day in the parish school and they think they’ve done their job as a parent to train their child in the faith. I only have the experience of the requirements of my daughter’s first communion and first reconciliation, but it was clear that some parents thought the two hour session we had to attend was asking too much. I thought it wasn’t enough preparation.

It has to be completely frustrating for anyone in religious education when it seems that you may be the only one forming them in the Catholic faith. I know I was frustrated at times in the time I spent in youth ministry, many parents treated our sessions as a “babysitting” service.

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