Parents excluded from Confirmation preparation classes

Hi all,

My oldest son is a freshman in high school, and starting a three-year preparation for the sacrament of Confirmation in our parish religious education classes. In an email discussion with the confirmation coordinator, I was told that parents are not invited to attend the confirmation class sessions.

This concerns me as a parent. Does this sound normal or appropriate?

There is so much dissention in the Church, as a parent I think it would be appropriate for parents to have the option to participate and to hear what is being presented in the classes as Catholic teaching. I would be happy to participate in some role as a volunteer, assistant instructor, etc.

Also, I am not a theologian but my understanding of the Church’s principle of “subsidiarity” is that the parents are primarily responsible for the moral and religious education of their children, and that parish religious education programs exist to assist the parents in fulfilling that responsibility – not replacing them or usurping parental authority. I was looking at this link, which captures some of the key ideas but doesn’t address my specific concerns:
insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2009/09/parents-having-given-life-to-their-children-are-their-primary-and-principal-educators.html

Thanks and God bless,

CheeseHead1

Hi all, here is a nice summary I found on preparation for the sacrament of Confirmation:
dioceseduluth.org/cmanager/File/Catechesis/Curriculum%20Standards%202009/22.%20Confirmation%20Policy.pdf

Here’s a nice quote on the role of parents:

The initiation of children into the sacramental life is for the most part the responsibility and
concern of Christian parents. They are to form and gradually increase a spirit of faith in the
children and, with the help of catechetical institutions, prepare them for the fruitful reception of the sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist. The role of the parents is also expressed by their active participation in the celebration of the sacraments.
Rite of Confirmation, 3

God bless, CheeseHead1

It does seem odd that you are not allowed to attend any of the classes. But I can say that it seems that more and more Confirmation classes are doing more in their classes than to prepare for Confirmation. So maybe they don’t want you there, so you can’t complain.

My son was Confirmed last school year. His class included: watching part of an R movie, going on an overnight retreat run by 11th and 12th graders with college age helpers, weekly homework that was never graded or returned and writing a letter to the bishop that HAD to include what you learned in class and HAD to include your favorite part of class. To say nothing of the fact that there were more than 60 in the class and to say there was a lack of control in the class would be an understatement. :shrug:

I wish there had been a way to have him confirmed without having to go to the class. :shrug:

I’m surprised when i heard your description. Are these CCD classes or regular Catholic schooling in place of public education. If it is, then yeah they may do a lot, but a retreat run by other children does not seem appropriate unless there is proper parental chaperon’s. Whether it is allowed or not, I would not want to be a student in that classroom. Unless the descriptions are not accurate, I would imagine learning very little in that class. I would rather spend my time elsewhere as a student.

I do not mean any disrespect to the parents or teachers; I am only voicing my opinion.

There’s a difference between “not invited” and “not permitted” I don’t know what’s happening at those classes, but there could be legitimate reasons for asking for the catechists to have an opportunity to teach the children without the parents’ presence. After all, most of the time parents are not “invited” to attend their childrens’ school classes, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything improper happening there.

By all means, look into this. The first question to ask is are they outright telling the parents they can’t be there, or are they simply saying that the students would have a better experience w/o the parents being present–there is a significant difference between the two. It’s your right as a parent to know what’s happening at these classes. If the catechists are open and forthcoming about telling you what’s happening at the classes, and you don’t see any cause for concern, then it’s most likely not a problem. On the other hand, if they seem to be keeping “secrets” from the parents, then this is indeed a cause for concern.

Our Confirmation program has 135 students and we pack all eight of our classrooms on Sunday night. There is no way we could handle five more bodies in each classroom, let alone 12 more. Parents are welcome - just not invited. If you do not like the program, you are free to attend another parish - of course that is not always practical. Under some circumstances sacrament prep may be done at home. In our diocese it is permitted, though not advertised.

I dont know if this is run through a lifeteen program at at all… But at my church prior to being confirmed I had to go to day retreats about what confirmation was etc. Then I had to go on over night retreats. Parents were leaders of the small groups when we broke up and discussed things, as well as helping with food, prayers, etc. Then on Sunday nights after mass we had an hour 1/2 of learning time with ALL the high school kids. (Not everyone HAD to attend, but I did) parents were there as well.
Then after I was confirmed I was a member for the Spirit team, and I became a head of the small groups. So I guess it depends how your church has it set up. My church allowed older students to teach as well as parents. If it is just older students at your church, this may be why they do not “allow” parents.
I would have to say, whenever a parents came and talked in the small group I lead, it seemed as though the students were respectful, but less attentive to what was being said. I think sometimes high schoolers like to know that some their age is excited about learning about God, and not just their parents. I hope you understand what I am saying :slight_smile:
But I would ask your church if they need any help with small groups or large group instruction, because then you can listen to what is going on :slight_smile:

This is a CCD class. Most of the students are in public school during the week. We home school. There were a couple of other homeschoolers in the class.

There were adults there for the retreat. But the retreat was planned and run by students. :shrug: I all but begged to get him out of the retreat. I was told, no retreat, no confirmation. I was also told in so many words that they had been having retreats like this for years and no one else ever complained. I tried to volunteer to be one of the adults at the retreat, but was told they had enough adults.

I have to admit that the movie was the Passion of Christ and they only showed part of it. But there was no notice going home about it. When I asked about it, I was told that there wasn’t anything bad in the part they showed!! When the CYO showed the movie We Were Soldiers, I had to write a note saying my son could see it. :shrug: One rule for CYO, another for CCD.

Believe me, my son did not want to be in the class. It was very hard for him to come up with anything he learned in the class or what could possibly be his favorite part of class because he pretty much hated it all.

I have to say that at one time I would have found it odd to exclude parents from confirmation classes, but over the last few years I’ve actually adopted it as a rule. The reason is that it is simply impossible for every parent to like what they hear in any particular confirmation class.
The last time I allowed parents into a confirmation class a more conservative parent berated me for teaching liberal nonsense. I ask what specifically they were refering to. They told me and I then showed them my notes where I was direcly quoting the Holy Father. The individual then told me they didn’t care if the Pope said it, it was wrong.
About 10 minutes later a more liberal Catholic parent came up to me and accused me of being a right wing nutcase. I also asked what they were refering to. They told me and I explained to them that for that particular point I was actually quoting the Catechism. The person then proceeded to tell me that they didn’t care what was in the Catechism, it was wrong.
Then both parents started jawing with each other with me in the middle. Students noticed this and went home that night more confused than informed.

I exclude parents from confirmation classes because too often there’s a parent who thinks they know Church teaching better than the presenter or the parish priest or deacon. It becomes disruptive and counterproductive.

If aduls wish to add to their own religious education, I invite them to join our RCIA classes.

The door needs to be open. Any parish that would suggest that parents or Sponsors are not welcome in the preparation class (to observe), would be suspicious to me.
You should take that Email and speak with the pastor, and the Bishop if necessary.

I’d be surprised if your homilies don’t get the same treatment. There has been more than once that I’ve complimented a homilist on a particularly meaty homily, only to hear that he took substantial heat for it from both sides, as you described. It is an age where bearing authority is a martyrdom all its own.

Unfortunately, you also know the made-up religious “facts” that are taught in some confirmation and RCIA classes, the stuff that directly contradicts what is in the catechism and the encyclicals. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir on that one, too. Just what people on these forums were taught in their RCIA classes is enough to curl the hair.

Maybe the parents should be excluded until they can show that they can pass a factual exam on the course themselves…an exam which they are quite free to take to the bishop, if they’re so inclined, because the materials are entirely orthodox. If, at that time, they think they can find something objectively wrong with the course materials, they would have time to say their piece in a setting where they’re not going to be berating a priest in public, provided they remain civil.

The Church does teach that parents are the primary educators of their children. It is impossible to meet that duty when one has no right to know what others are teaching the kids. There has to be some way that parents can monitor what is being taught and give feedback. After all, if it is true, it will bear the scrutiny, whether the parents believe that in the end or not.

Still, a priest teaching a confirmation class (or even anyone teaching one under the direct supervision of anyone else who is similarly qualified) should not be subjected to public questioning of his orthodoxy. That is beyond the pale.

I would have loved to have our priest to teach the class. :thumbsup:

Not that our teachers are bad. They are just like me, volunteer parents that are doing the best they can. And like me they teach from a book that is so watered down, it is barely recognizable as Catholic.

Well, doing the best they can, until they start showing the R movie. The homework requirement and requirements for the letter come from someone else. The retreat is required by the bishop, although there has to be a better way to run it.

As a note to all the parents, remeber - we are not Protestants where every congregation gets to make up rules as they see fit.

The Church has rules re every Sacrament, including Confirmation. Your Bishop may also set regulations for his Diocese. There are also rules for Safe Envioronment. There are rules about how CCD classes and Youth Groups run, rules about chaperones, rules about retreats…

Call your Diocese, get a copy of ALL of these rules, know what they are. If you have a catechist or DRE or youth director who is in violation of these, then, there IS a chain of command for reporting these things.

I would love to have parents more involved in the Jr Hi and HS programs as well as confirmation. It is a mystery to me how the same parents that were catechists, aides, volunteers and helped all through elementary CCD simply vanish when they kids reach Jr Hi (well, not a real mystery, I well remember the years my kids did not want to be seen in public with me).

We have 100 Jr High and 145 HS students here Wed night, we use every available inch of space in the school. I have 9th graders in a classroom intended for 2nd graders and I just hope they don’t break the chairs. Parents are welcome but probably will have to stand in the hall or hope one of the kids sits on the floor and offers them a chair.

i wish the parents would stay then the kids would not have to call them to be picked up and still be standing outside (60 and rainy tonight) waiting for a ride 45 minutes after CCD is over, which is why I just got home.

Parents got a syllabus last week showing every lesson planned for every class for the rest of the year, including the dates of the confirmation parent meetings, which are during CCD (in church, mercifully) for their convenience (certainly not mine).

They were invited to a meeting at the beginning of the year to review all the texts, bibles, recources, DVDs etc. and meet the catechists, and receive an orientation on the HS and Confirmation program. Perhaps 12 out of 78 parents in the confirmation class attended.

That’s if you have a diocese with such rules. No such thing exists in our diocese. “We’re working on it.” Granted we are a new diocese, but we are a combination of two prior dioceses which were suppressed and AFAIK neither had policies in writing. I know that in the one I was part of before the merger all the parishes were doing one catechetical program but the former cathedral parish doing something totally different with different requirements.

This is the reality. SO if you open the door and allow any parent to visit the class anytime they wish, you would at most only have 5 to 7 parents there any given week. It not like in a class of 80 kids you will have 80 parents there every week!

Thanks Fr. David. I was trying to be polite. When I asked whether the activities were open to parents, I was told that the activities and classes are not open to parents. This came from the confirmation coordinator, but he had spoken to our pastor about it before replying.

We are going to meet with the confirmation coordinator and the religious education teachers for his grade level, to learn more about the program and dialogue. However, I still feel in my heart that parents should have a right to attend all religious ed programs that their children are required to attend. As other posts have noted, I doubt this would cause a huge influx of parents, because most parents wouldn’t be interested in attending anyway. But I would rather see parents be invited and put to work as volunteers or assistants. Or for the small group discussions, there could be a small group for parents.

God bless! CheeseHead1

Hi Father, thanks for everything you are doing to serve Christ and his Church through your vocation! And thanks for sharing another perspective on this topic. With all the variety of perspectives and backgrounds in the Church, I can certainly see parental disruptions in the class causing problems with the true intent of the classes – helping the candidates grow in their knowledge and practice of the faith.

I’d like to share a true story from a Catholic friend of mine. He and his wife had two daughters. When they sat down to the dinner table and wanted to say grace as a family, the daughers would routinely argue over whose turn it was to say grace. His solution to end the arguments was to stop saying grace as a family. :frowning:

I would encourage you to allow parents to attend, but under clear guidelines for their participation and behavior. If parents are unable to follow the guidelines, then clearly that would be grounds for excluding them from the class. On the other hand, by excluding all parents, you are losing a valuable opportunity to help the parents grow in the faith at the same time their children are. Parents who would make an effort to attend confirmation classes with their child may not make the same effort to attend the separate RCIA classes.

God bless, CheeseHead1

There may also be a security issue. Every adult who volunteers with our church and has the remotest possibility of contact with children has to have a criminal background check and attend classes about “touching safety.” I would imagine any adult who had regular contact with the Confirmation class would need to do the same.

In our parish Confirmation program parents are welcome. Those who attend regularly usually end up in some “volunteer” capacity (catechist aide, prepare snacks, etc.) and submit to background checks.

Thanks, and good point. I would have no problem submitting to any training or security checks that the parish and diocese would require.

(As an aside, which reminds me of that great quote from Big Jule in Guys & Dolls, “Well, I used to be bad when I was a kid, but ever since then I’ve gone straight, as has been proved by my record: Thirty-three arrests and no convictions!”) :smiley:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.