Our church has just added over 100 children (candidates), 9 to 17-years-old, into the RCIA program. I have not been able to find information on discerning these baptized children. I am fairly new to the team and am finding discernment of children, or rather more specifically trying to determine when and who is ready, very frustrating. I hope you can provide me with some pointers to help make this process easier.
Wow! That’s a lot of children, and quite an age range. I think your first step is to do a little sorting. Are any of these children approaching your parish on their own, or are their parents also in a process of reception? For those whose parents are also in the process, I would focus on discerning the readiness of the family and not focus exclusively on the children.
For those children that are closer to the 17-years-old end of the spectrum, you can treat their discernment as you would the discernment of an adult.
The basics of a discernment process can be found in paragraph 75 of the RCIA. The criteria there are meant for unbaptized adults, but they can be adapted to anyone, at any age. Briefly, you want to see growth in
- the way the candidates hear the word of God and understand the tradition of the church
- the way the candidates pray and worship
- the way the candidates participate in and contribute to the parish community
- the way the candidates care for the poor and for those who have never heard the Good News
For a more detailed discussion of discernment, check out these links:
- RCIA Discernment: What is it and how do you do it?
- Do you know the three Rs of RCIA discernment?
- RCIA Discernment: How do you know if they “know enough”?
There is lots more that could be said about discernment, and I’m going to open the discussion up for comments to see what other wisdom is out there.