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Friday, April 27, 2018

Preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation - Parents play a vital role in the faith formation of their children

Reported by Evelyn Jock-Lagan
Catechist, Sunday School (English)

Recognising the role and influence of the parents in their children’s spiritual upbringing and to ensure that adequate preparation is done for the Sacrament of Confirmation, a briefing was held on 22 April 2018 by the Parish Priest of St Mary’s Cathedral, Fr. David Garaman, at the Fr. Mulders Catechetical Centre, for parents of students from the Sunday School (English) who will be undertaking their Sacrament of Confirmation. 19 students from the English language group will be confirmed in 2018 and 30 more, now in the Pre-Confirmation class, will be confirmed in 2019.
Fr David A. Garaman, Parish Priest for St Mary’s Cathedral, Sandakan, briefing parents of student for Confirmation and Pre-Confirmation class from the Sunday School (English) at Fr. Mulders Centre on 22 April 2018.
Fr David touched on 2 main clauses from the Catechism of the Catholic Church with regards to the family:- (i) Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues (CCC 2223); and (ii) Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith (CCC 2226).
In today’s society, a parent has to deal with many challenges such as: work, school, rising cost of living, the media and many other issues. Fr David explained that parents have a responsibility to give good example to their children and they are the first person to influence the moral and faith formation of their children. Parents may feel that they are inadequate in catechizing their children of the faith, and therefore relinquish their responsibility to the catechists who instruct their children on basic doctrine, however, he expressed that the formation of children in their faith, begins at home. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray as a family and to discover their vocation as children of God. It is a way of living. By taking the time to pray, parents show their children the importance of being a holy family which is the vision and mission that the Diocese of Sandakan is striving to portray, ‘to be a Christ centred community, serving one another with love’.
Parents of Confirmand and Pre-Confirmand who have availed themselves to attend the briefing by Fr David, on a Sunday morning at the Catechetical Centre.
He encouraged parents to be a role model for their children by attending Holy Mass with their children and to frequent the Sacrament of Confession as well as the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. He also stressed that by showing good examples from the beginning, aids and encourages the formation of their children’s spiritual growth from an early age. Nothing and no one can replace the influence of a parent and the impact on the spiritual life of a child.
Fr. David encouraged the parents to render their support to the church and the Sunday School activities which is facilitated by lay persons who have availed themselves in the transfer of faith to the children. At the same time, he also invited more parents to assist in the Sunday School as facilitators themselves.
He also explained to parents, the importance of attending retreats prior to receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. A religious youth retreat provides an opportunity for teens to get away from the day-to-day distractions and focus on spiritual matters. The teenage years are the most spiritually active period in a young person’s life and helping Catholic teenagers connect to God at a retreat might help them remain in the Church throughout their adult life.

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