CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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New guidelines for faith formation

HONG KONG (SE): The diocese of Hong Kong issued a new set of guidelines on April 17 this year covering the faith formation of young children, the celebration of the sacraments and the liturgy, as well as the ongoing formation of adults after they have received the sacrament of baptism.
On August 20, a forum on the development of faith formation for young children, sponsored by the Diocesan Catechetical Centre and Diocesan Catechetical Commission, was held at St. Patrick’s parish in Lok Fu.
Father Philip Chan Tak-hung introduced the day with a presentation on preparation for the sacraments for children to the 146 people who attended, including pastoral workers, Sunday school teachers and coordinators from 39 parishes.
A consultant to the Catechetical Centre, Father Chan highlighted the concern expressed by Pope Benedict XVI over the order and timing in which children should be introduced to the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, communion and reconciliation.
Various rites of the Catholic Church have developed different practices over the centuries and in the Latin rite the formerly almost universal approach of infant baptism, followed by reconciliation and communion at about the age of seven or eight with confirmation at the conclusion of primary school now varies.
Copies of a short article written by Father Thomas Law Kwok-fai, the director of the Liturgy Commission, were distributed.
Father Law noted that the original order of the sacraments received by children and teenagers has gradually been changed in Church history. At present, more recent traditional order is followed, which he believes tends to create the impression that confirmation is a climax.
He adds that the revised guidelines point to a way of formation for children and teenagers that should be universal and reflect the original meaning of the sacraments.
Victoria Yeung Yuk-lin, the director of the Catechetical Centre, said current catechetical formation of children focusses on a holistic growth of faith.
She said that as the revised guidelines point out, a baptised child over seven years old should be given at least two years of familiarisation with the catechism, the meaning of the sacraments and a spiritual formation based on their maturity level in order to pave the way for confirmation, reconciliation and first communion.
But she stressed that even after receiving the sacraments for the first time, they should continue at their parish Sunday school as a continuation of their formation.
The centre is designing a three-year plan on faith formation to be implemented by parishes in September next year.
A teaching kit for the first two years will be launched by the centre in April to help parishes prepare for the regular order of the sacraments.
However, while parishes remain free to make their own adjustments for transition purposes, they are encouraged to implement the guidelines as soon as possible.
The new syllabus was designed with an aim of incorporating the present material with some adjustments to assist children with a holistic faith formation, prepare them for the sacraments and encourage them to be involved in Church life.

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