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The

 Catechumenate
th th
for 11 -12 graders interested in being Confirmed at St. Paul’s.
10 AM, Barnabas
 
“In the course of their Christian development, those baptized at an early age are expected, when they are ready
and have been duly prepared to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the
responsibilities of their Baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the Bishop.” BCP p.412
 
What  is  The  Catechumenate?          
-­‐ Catechumen:    cat|e|chu|men «KAT uh KYOO muhn», noun. A person who is being taught
the elementary principles of Christianity. SYNONYM(S): neophyte. < Latin
< Greek one being instructed  
-­‐ Catechism: cat|e|chism «KAT uh kihz uhm», noun. a book of questions and answers about
religion, used for teaching religious doctrine, especially of a given church
-­‐ Catechist: cat|e|chist «KAT uh kihst», noun. A person who catechizes, especially a deep and
persistent questioner
-­‐ Catechize: cat|e|chize «KAT uh kyz», verb, -chized, -chiz|ing. To teach by questions and
answers.  

Historically:    
The apostles in the early church “initiated” individuals and entire families into this “new” faith through baptism and the
laying on of hands. Initiates were not only “washed” in water but were anointed and sealed with oil and the laying on of
hands praying for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. A three year preparation period for this initiation came to be known as the
“Catechumenate.” As Christianity spread, a more formal means of this “initiation” became needed as many “converts”
were of pagan or other philosophical roots. And so by the end of the 2nd century a formal process of “initiation” had
come into practice by the church. As early as the 3rd century the church had a very elaborate liturgy to mark “baptism.”

As the churches grew this “initiation” become more of an “assimilation” process for new members into the congregation.
By the 4th century, the basic components of “presentation” to the community followed by several years of formation and
instruction were the norm. After Christianity was legalized, becoming a “Christian” became a title in society that was
revered. So this influx of “converts” plus the growing culture of fear regarding infantile death and the question of what
do we do with new-born babies born into Christian homes ( both resulting in the popularity of infant baptism), left the
formal Catechumenate process on the verge of extinction by the 6th century, not to return until the 16th century.

The Orthodox and African churches, “confirm” immediately following baptism, just like the early church. The Roman
church began to wait several years before “confirming.” Thus as the church began to grow and Bishops were
responsible for more and more congregations over a much broader area, priests were given the authority to baptize at
any age. Catechumens had to wait for the Bishop to come (which wasn’t every year, as in our case now).

At St. Paul’s we call our confirmation “instruction” for 11th and 12th graders the Catechumenate as a reminder that what
we’re doing here, goes back to the beginning of the church. We call it the Catechumenate as a reminder that we are a
part of something much bigger and much older than what our 1827 sanctuary holds. We call it this because the
Catechumenate goes back to the time of the Apostles and the Bishop who will lay his hands on your head and anoint
you sealing you with the gifts of the Spirit, is part of the apostolic succession.

 
Practically:  
The Catechumenate at St. Paul’s is a class for 11th and 12th graders based on the catechism (found in the back of the
BCP) as a preparation process for Confirmation.
Do you have to be confirmed or baptized to take part in the Catechumenate? No.

When is confirmation for the Catechumenate? We’ve requested April/May – it’s bound to fall on someone’s prom 

What does Catechumenate Class look like? You get a BCP. You also get a very cool book called, Velvet Elvis (that
we’ll read together). You get a notebook. You’ll get lots of handouts. You’ll end up with some sort of a reference
manual when you’re done. We will deconstruct much of our faith and church so to understto discover new meaning. And
I HOPE & I PRAY that it will be conversational and engaging, including more questions than answers, but this is up to
you. It will be what you make of it.

What is required of Catechumens? That you do your best to be present in class and when you can’t make that happen,
that you communicate with me and take the initiative to get what you missed. Prepare your “Spiritual journey” by
December. Read Velvet Elvis. Prepare a Rule of Life by April.

How is this Catechumenate different from older catechumenates? Well catechumens used to have memorized word for
word the catechism and be able to recite any part of it upon demand for the Bishop when he came.
What is our hope for the Catechumenate: That through this year you will say “yes” to God by assuming responsibility for
your baptismal vows and living in such a way that fosters a growing relationship with Christ and His church.

Pilgrimage:  
A journey offered in June for all catechumens and other adults from the parish to Great Britain. Catechumens are
strongly urged to mark their inward spiritual journey with this outward physical journey. Pilgrimage creates space to
listen, to see, to seek and to understand more fully who they are, who God is, the plans He has for them and the church
in which they grow. Pilgrimage becomes a rite of passage leading into the practice of faith as adults. Please know
that to travel on Pilgrimage to Great Britain, you must participate in a retreat that prior school year.
 
Sponsors:  
Despite how much we know, despite how faithful we might be, despite our determination, we need other Christians to
live a life with God in this world. We can’t do it on our own and we’re not supposed to. Community was part of Jesus’
plan. And so sponsors in one, way, shape or form have been a long-time part of the confirmation process. A sponsor
is someone who will present you to the Bishop and be witness to your commitment to Christ and his church. Sponsors
hold a twofold purpose beyond the practical responsibilities during the rite:

1. To walk with the catechumen through their time of instruction, sharing their faith and commitment to Christ and
his church. 2. To help usher the catechumen more fully into the “adult” world of the church.

Guidelines for Catechumens and Sponsors:


1. Meet together two or three times prior to Confirmation to talk about living a life with God in this world.
a. Bring your Notebook, have conversations surrounding topics from class
b. Read a book of the Bible together; Read Velvet Elvis together.
c. Hear their faith story. Ask your questions.
2. Sponsors are welcome and encouraged to come to class (hopefully at least once)
3. Sponsors should be a confirmed attending adult at St. Paul’s who is not a member of the clergy or the catechist
(i.e. me) since we already have roles to play in the rite of confirmation and we want to share the gift of being a
sponsor with others in the church who do not play such a direct, spiritual role in your life.
4. If you don’t know who to ask to be your sponsor? I’ll help, just ask!

It is our hope that this concept of having a “sponsor” will be more than someone who stand up for you before the Bishop.
It is also hour hope that this will provide a model for the rest of your life as something every Christian needs in their life.