Initiation in these times

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: My pastor and I wanted to seek your wisdom/guidance regarding the ‘how-to’s’ of Initiation during these unprecedented times & all the safety precautions.  We both think that you are best to seek out some guidance and thoughts on this matter.  

We have talked about having Initiations (Candidates & Elect) at the Vigil of Pentecost but how will that look and carry out? Also, wondering if we should spread out each individual or family receiving of Sacraments through multiple Masses or do them privately?  

We have some individual adult Candidates to be received into the Church, Candidates that have children for full initiation, and adults for full initiation.  

Here are some questions; (Of course the following info is in addition to the current safety precautions – social distancing, masks, number of people in the church, etc.)  


+Communion ·  Will receive Precious Body only

+ Confirmation ·  How do you see that to look? Touching forehead for tracing of cross?  Or can that be done without touching? Anointing with Chrism? Possibly after each person for the tracing and also after the Anointing – Father would sanitize his hand before moving to another person???? 


+ Baptism·   Once again the question for Anointing with the Oil of Catechumen – due to touching? If we have adults/children from multiple families at one time – we do plan on using different bowls of Holy Water. At the time of blessing of the water, Father would bless multiple bowls at one time. We would use a different bowl for each family. Your thoughts? 

Fr. Paul, I think that is all the questions we have at this time. Whatever thoughts or guidance you can give us would be much appreciated. 


A: Thanks for these questions, and especially for your ministry.

For communion, all the initiated and newly received may receive communion with the Body of Christ alone. They need not receive from the chalice. However, I’ve been initiating our catechumens one by one. I consecrated a bit of wine in a separate chalice and had a minister offer that as part of their first communion. Only one person drank from the chalice, and I dispensed with the act of purification, bringing the chalice immediately to the sacristy after mass for washing. Obviously, this is more complicated if you are offering communion to several people at a time, and the safer method is to offer just the Body of Christ.

Confirmation must be administered thumb to forehead. Again, I’ve been initiating one at a time, but if you go with a group, then, yes, the priest should sanitize after each confirmation. In Italy they are postponing all confirmations right now. That is something we have not discussed in our diocese. I took the risk and confirmed on the forehead.

For baptisms, the oil of catechumens is optional both for infants and for adults. I suggest you omit it.

For baptism, you could have the priest bless one bowl of water and use some kind of shell to pour the water over the person’s head into a different, empty container. If he does not have physical contact with the person, the same bowl of blessed water can be used for separate people. But there’s nothing wrong with your solution, using multiple bowls