Should baptized candidates celebrate their sacraments at the Easter Vigil?

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8 thoughts on “Should baptized candidates celebrate their sacraments at the Easter Vigil?”

  1. Although I understand the ideal which is stated in the statutes and as you describe, it may not be “pratical” when dealing with multiple candidates who come to receive the Sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation and have not been catechized since being Baptized as infants or those who recieved First Eucharist and never came back to the church. This has bern an issue all along

    We are facing this in our parish in addition to young people who do not fit into our preparation for Confirmation because the “grade” was changed from 11th grade to 8th grade with a 2 tear preparation required.

    Our paid staff is our secretary and CRE. The logistics of finding people willing to be trained to fill the teaching spots in the Religous Ed as well those who would be available for RCIA and additionally address the needs of those in the gaps is daunting. So it’s not just a matter of when to celebrate the Sacraments but the whole process of preparation needs to be addressed.

    1. Nick Wagner

      Hi Kris,

      Thanks for your insightful comment. As you note, the preparation of all these various kinds of seekers is a pastoral issue that many of us struggle with. However, it is somewhat separate from when we celebrate the sacraments of each of these folks. The Rite of Reception into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church is a very simple rite, which is intended to be celebrated on a Sunday in Ordinary Time (and not at the Easter Vigil). It doesn’t require any extraordinary effort on the part of the parish leaders. And, the very celebration of the rite on a regular basis in the midst of the Sunday assembly catechizes the parish and all the other seekers about the dignity of baptism.

  2. Thank you for writing such a clear article on this church teaching. We have year round initiation. The baptized candidates (Christian and Catholic) are received at a Sunday Mass when they are ready. (Catholics with delegation). The unbaptized are received at Easter Vigil. It is a beautiful and gloriously wet celebration with an almost full immersion. This year we had 4 adults and 26 children plus two infants who were part of two sibling groups. God is so very good.

    1. Nick Wagner

      Hi Jackie. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Your parish community is an inspiring example for the rest of us!

  3. Of course, there are always exceptions to the norm (e.g., a candidate for full communion) who is married to a catechumen). The problem arises when it become normative to celebrate as many sacraments as possible at the Vigil (I once attended a Vigil where one couple was married). This often arises out of a genuine (and laudable) desire to make the Easter Vigil a summit of the liturgical year; it’s kind of a badge of honor if your Easter Vigil is extremely long and has many moving parts.

    We are a small parish with a minimal staff. My practice is to focus on forming/resourcing an effective team, rather than trying to do it all myself.

    At our parish, we have a 4-session preparation process for baptized Catholics who were never confirmed. We conduct this a couple of times a year, and conclude with Confirmation at a Sunday Mass in Ordinary Time. One skilled catechist can easily conduct these sessions (We use Mary Birmingham’s Confirming Adult Catholics).

    For adult Catholics and/or candidates baptized in another Christian denomination who have had little or no catechesis, we often include them in extended catechesis with catechumens (never dismissal, of course), and periodically discern when they are ready for either preparation for Confirmation or acceptance into full communion (both of which would be celebrated in Ordinary Time). We have 5 people on our RCIA Team, who have become quite good at “sorting fish,” and alerting staff when someone might be ready for the next step.

    We also encounter candidates baptized in another Christian denomination who, quite frankly, sufficiently catechized, and just need some one-on-one sessions before they are prepared for Confirmation (they are often the spouse of an active Catholic). I had one such candidate where her preparation was just a couple of months.

    1. Nick Wagner

      Mark, I love your commitment to providing for pastoral exceptions without making the exceptions the norm! I also appreciate your focus on forming/resourcing an effective team, rather than trying to do it all yourself. That’s important in every parish, but especially in parishes with minimal staff. Blessings on all the great work you are doing.

  4. Bruce Ryman

    We continue to have all three types noted in the article each year. We are also trending towards 70% new folks being Hispanic. That demographic is culturally committed to Family reception of Sacraments. Of the rest 90% are of mixed faith ( including no faith) divorced & remarried couples or first time Marriage fiancés. These sub groups strongly prefer joint celebration. Our Archdioese insists that Catholics receive Confirmation at Pentecost Sunday special Mass. Yet, we had one young lady who saw her husband enter as a Catechumen this year and petitioned to celebrate both their situations together. So In the spirit of Pastoral nurturing our Pastor called together our team and we developed three separate Rites from the book that were celebrated at Easter Vigil Mass. I could go on in detail but post this to remind us all of the significant Hispanic impact of Family Sacraments and the drive for Internal Conversion of our Faith. It is a cultural and parish resource (and rules) issue that is coming to a head. Our parish population is growing with 90% being of Hispanic and Chin (largest refugee group of about 10,000 Chins have settled in area) heritage. Then there is the language and “undocumented “ facts of life with which we must deal. Parishes that have declining memberships and few Catechumens cannot appreciate this significant challenge. Pray for us all

    1. Nick Wagner

      Hi Bruce. Thanks for your dedication to finding pastoral solutions for your growing Latino and Chin membership. We will definitely keep you in our prayers.

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