As we sang in the new year, enjoyed our January summer holidays, and eventually got back to work and school, who would have thought that by March 19 we would be in lockdown. Who would have thought that with everything else our churches would be closed, we would be praying more in our homes and watching mass online? Who would have thought that everything to do with Sacraments of Initiation for children and their families would be cancelled for the year?
Quick to the mark, Bishop Bill announced a ‘fallow year’ for Sacraments of Initiation and invited the community to take this time to reflect on their current practice.
Anyone who has any experience of Sacraments of Initiation knows that it is a ministry that never rests. As soon as the celebration of one sacrament ends, the preparation for the next begins. This ‘fallow year’ is then a ‘once in a pandemic’ gift to parishes, their leaders and Sacramental Teams.
The Diocesan Liturgy Council (DLC), with its Christian Initiation Forum and with the support of the Assistant Masters of Ceremonies has prepared a resource to support the community in reflecting on the process of Christian Initiation for children and families. The DLC was already focused on developing a review process for the Pastoral Guidance for the Preparation and Celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation. 2020 was the scheduled year for the three-year review of this document and its resources. In response to the declaration of the ‘fallow year’ we expanded our project and have situated the review of the Confirmation Guidance within the wider reflection on the Sacraments of Initiation. The latter makes a wonderful context for the former.
We offer the Fallow Year Resource to the whole community in the hope that as well as supporting parishes in reflecting on their current pastoral practice, it will provide an opportunity for all of us to reflect prayerfully on our own Christian Initiation and deepen our commitment to live it every day. Preparing the document certainly did that for us.
We encourage you to share the link to the document with anyone you think will be remotely interested. We encourage parishes and schools to make it available as widely as possible. The Introduction on page 5 should provide you with all the information you need and who to contact if you have any questions. It is a long document. We would be grateful if schools and parishes could help by printing copies for those who do not have internet access.
We look forward to the rest, reflection and renewal that this fallow year opportunity provides.