The combined parish of St Bernard, Newlands and St Ignatius, Claremont, offers a Confirmation program that is distinct from other parishes. Our program is two years rather than three: it’s on a Sunday night rather than during the week: and the whole class, 1ST and 2ND years, meets together, rather than separately. It’s also a user-friendly program: understanding the pressures on our learners, we don’t interfere with their school or social life. And we don’t teach too many doctrines: we presume they’ve learnt these in an earlier part of their catechesis. Instead, we try to offer them pointers for an authentically Christian lifestyle. All of this springs from our understanding of Confirmation, as the continuation of a journey or, if you like, of a conversation God initiated with each of us in Baptism. The very fact that teenagers register for Confirmation leads us to believe that somewhere deep down they want to explore this conversation, continue this journey. But Confirmation is not the end of something: yes, of course, it brings to completion our initiation into the Body of Christ started in Baptism: rather, it’s a halting point along the way, a time to gather some new gifts and shed some old habits before continuing. We don’t understand Confirmation as the moment of ‘adulthood’ in the Church – adulthood happens when people, no matter what their physical age, begin to take responsibility for their lives. One doesn’t need to be Confirmed to maintain a spiritual life: but to stop living out our spirituality as soon as we are Confirmed is like stopping halfway across a road and deciding that it’s far enough!
The timetable follows the four school terms, taking into account school and public holidays. Class is every Sunday night from 19h00 until about 20h15 – we ask that parents would be ready by 20h15 to fetch their sons or daughters. Occasionally, instead of class, we all go out for pizza – this is not a voluntary evening, but is understood as an integral part of the program.