Catechumens and candidates

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: A parish has a large number of catechumens and candidates so the candidates will not celebrate Confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. If this separate celebration takes place on Easter Sunday or the Second Sunday of Easter, may the pastor delegate the parochial vicar, or does the parochial vicar need delegation from the diocesan bishop?


A: Canons 883 and 885 give permission to a presbyter, not to a pastor.

When you say that the candidates will receive confirmation and communion later, I presume you also mean that they will celebrate the Rite of Reception later. A priest cannot receive a candidate into the full communion of the Catholic church without also confirming and offering communion.


Q: There is no Rite of Reception … these are baptized Catholics who never received First Communion or Confirmation as part of the process in our diocese.

Some parishes, such as my former parish, have about 30 to 40 persons to receive all three sacraments at the Vigil and another 30 something for Confirmation and Eucharist … a few years ago pastors began to separate the candidates from the Vigil and moved Confirmation and Eucharist to another Sunday in Easter, usually the 2nd Sunday. 

I raised the issue the other night with the liturgical commission and the bishop was adamant that the pastor confirm, not the parochial vicar,


A: Oh, now I understand.

As you know, a priest does not have authority to confirm someone who was baptized Catholic as an infant. The bishop is the ordinary minister. The bishop may give a priest permission to confirm. 

In the case of groups such as you mention, even though the Catholics in the group have participated in formation together with other candidates and catechumens, the law does not give the priest authority to confirm a Catholic. Many bishops freely give that permission in this circumstance. But a bishop is totally within his rights to determine whom he permits to confirm. If he wants the pastor to do it, that’s the bishop’s prerogative.

Even though the RCIA likes the idea of having such Catholics receive both these sacraments at the Easter Vigil, a bishop could fittingly give the permission for the confirmation to take place on another occasion.