In 2014, the Most Reverend David M. O’Connell, Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, directed that children preparing for Confirmation receive the Sacrament no earlier than the spring of their Eighth Grade year. Bishop O’Connell made this decision in order to give children more time to prayerfully prepare and consider their personal readiness for the Sacrament. As the Bishop has written, children’s “decision to present themselves for reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation is (or should be) a very important moment in their lives of faith.”
Honoring the Bishop’s directive, and recognizing the seriousness of its intent, Saint Leo the Great has instituted a program to prepare our young people for their future role in God's plan of salvation as mature and committed disciples of Jesus Christ:
Preparation for Confirmation is a two-year journey of faith formation and prayerful preparation. Students in our School and Faith Formation program receive instruction in the Catholic faith (including Holy Scripture) and specific preparation for the Sacrament in Seventh and Eighth Grades.
- The focus of the first year of faith formation is the candidates’ personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The second year seeks to help the candidates in determining their unique purpose in putting that relationship into action in the world through relationships with others. In this way, the candidates grow to a deeper appreciation and understanding of the Great Commandment to love God and others.
- The curriculum used in the program is dynamic and challenging, and meets diocesan guidelines for faith education and Sacramental preparation.
- The program follows closely the process used in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).
- Parents play a critical part in forming their children in the faith and preparing them with seriousness and intention to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Parents are invited throughout the program's duration to participate directly in thier children's learning by sharing the lessons with them and continuing the conversation about the faith at home.
- Students are required to perform service hours during the formation/preparation years. Service time projects must be approved before they are started to assure they represent true Christian service that is reflective of the social teaching of Christ and the Church, and impacts at least one of the Corporal or Spiritual Works of Mercy, or the Beatitudes.
- Above all, the Sacrament of Confirmation must not be viewed as a “graduation from Religious Education.” Instead, the intent and purpose of the Saint Leo the Great Formation/Preparation Program is to foster a renewed understanding of Confirmation as the beginning of a life-long journey of faith that, through the Grace of the Holy Spirit, leads the candidates ever closer to our loving God, deepens their understanding of the mysteries of the faith and helps them live their personal relationship with Jesus in a more adult way.