[Please note: This page is provided by the Catholic Homeschoolers of PA. This is not a diocesan website or page.]

Part III: Catechesis and the Sacraments Rights Duties and Responsibilities

What are the local Church's policies affecting home catechesis? What is required of students? of parents? of pastors? The following passages are drawn from diocesan documents and adapted for homeschooling families and their pastors.

Parents who wish to homeschool their children in religious education should schedule a meeting with a parish priest to discuss their plans for catechesis. Parishes, for their part, should make available to homeschooling parents any resources, such as textbooks and support materials, that the parish uses in religious education. Homeschooling families can elect to use these materials or other suitable materials of their own choosing. Though homeschooled children are expected to meet the same standards as other students (the published catechetical guidelines), they are not required to attend CCD or other classes. When service projects or other works are required, the parents may be entrusted to oversee the work.

In preparation for the sacraments, however, the children should attend rehearsals, and their parents should attend appropriate meetings for adults. All materials that parents choose for home catechesis should be sound in Catholic doctrine and in conformity with the published standards and teachings of the Church. Parents should review their educational materials with their pastor. It is the pastor whom the Church has called to work with parents to determine a child's readiness for reception of the sacraments. Both pastor and parents should be acquainted with the diocesan catechetical guidelines and the "Instrument for Evaluation of Catechetical Textbooks and Materials," promulgated to ensure texts' conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Assistance in this important work is available through the Department for Religious Education/CCD. Call 456-3112.

Diocesan Policy Related to Home Catechesis and Sacramental Preparation

Parish Standards for Requesting Reception of the First Sacraments, from "The Sacraments of Initiation Policies for the Diocese of Pittsburgh"

First Penance/Eucharist

127.1 The time of formation must be understood to include the whole period following the child's baptism. Thus, parents are to help their children develop a life of prayer, a knowledge and love of Jesus Christ and his teachings, and a practical relationship with the local Church.

127.2 Through support and practical helps, parishes should assist parents fulfill this role in the first several years of a child's life. For children who are formally schooled at home, as for any other child, proximate preparation for the sacraments of penance and Eucharist begin to intensify when children approach the age of reason. Parents who homeschool their children should make an initial contact with their pastor at this time, if they have not already.

Parishes must provide the parents with a set of expectations for their child at this time. Those expectations must include conformity to the Sacraments of Initiation Policies of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, as well as all other catechetical policies established or promulgated by the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

As immediate preparation for the sacrament approaches, pastor and parents need to discuss:

1. Options for Celebration of the Sacraments

In accord with parish policy, the child may receive each sacrament individually, with the family, or within a group.

2. Welcome at Parish Events

Parishes encourage homeschooling parents and children to participate in parent meetings, retreat, service, social activities, and practices connected with the sacraments.Parish staff should include homeschooling families in any informational mailings from the parish dealing with the sacraments and surrounding events, as well as pertinent information about gathering the child's baptismal certificate, when necessary. Six months prior to the scheduled sacraments, parents will need to arrange an interview between the pastor(or his delegate) and their child to determine the child's readiness and to allow time to make adjustments in any further preparation, if necessary. Interviews are to be based upon the requirements noted in the Sacrament Policies and information stated in the Catechetical Curriculum Guidelines, Diocese of Pittsburgh.

136.1 All parents should be gathered and prepared in the year or so prior to the celebration of First Communion.
A. The parents of all candidates should be reminded of their unique and God-given role in the Christian formation of their children. They should be given an opportunity to receive practical information concerning preparations for the first eucharistic Communion of their children, and for the celebration of the sacrament of penance during the time of formation. In addition, they should have the opportunity for personal spiritual preparation for these celebrations.
B. Parents who for the first time are leading a child to eucharistic Communion are to be provided with catechesis to deepen their understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist in the life of the Church and in their own lives. They should also be helped to appreciate the relationship between such Communion and the call and dignity of baptism. Within this context, they are to be offered catechesis concerning the Church's ministry of reconciliation, celebrated in the sacrament of penance and fulfilled at the table of the Lord.
C. Parents who have previously participated in such programs are to be welcomed to take part again.
D. Parents and families with special needs (e.g., family crisis, alienation from Church) are to receive particular pastoral attention to enable them to participate fruitfully in the celebration of the sacrament.

136.2 A candidate whose parents do not participate in special programs may not for this reason be deprived of the right to eucharistic Communion (Code of Canon Law 843; 912).

Confirmation

100.1 The time of formation is understood to include the whole period following baptism.

102.1 Specific preparation of the candidates for confirmation is to occur during the year preceding the celebration of the rite. In the Diocese of Pittsburgh, the latter occurs in the 8th- or 9th-grade year, depending upon the parish.

The homeschooling parents and student should make initial contact with the pastor in the beginning of the 7th-grade year, or the time of proximate preparation. Including the student in this initial interview will give the pastor a basic sense of the depth of the child's religious formation to this point.

Parishes are to provide the parents with a set of expectations for their child. Those expectations include conformity to the above named Sacrament Policies, as well as information from the Catechetical Curriculum Guidelines, Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Parishes encourage homeschooling parents and children to participate in parent meetings, retreat, service, social activities, and other practices connected with the sacrament of confirmation.

Parish staff should include homeschooling families in any informational mailings from the parish dealing with the sacraments and surrounding events, as well as pertinent information about gathering the child's baptismal certificate and sponsor certificates, when necessary. Six months following the initial meeting with the pastor, parents should arrange an additional interview between the pastor and their child to determine the child's readiness and to allow time to make adjustments in further preparation, if necessary. Interviews are to be based upon the requirements noted in the Sacrament Policies and information stated in the Catechetical Curriculum Guidelines, Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Parental Formation

105.1 In the case of candidates who are children, their parents should be gathered and prepared in the year or so prior to the celebration of confirmation.
A. The parents of all candidates are to be reminded of their unique and God-given role in the Christian formation of their children. They should be given an opportunity to receive practical information concerning preparations for confirmation. In addition, they should have the opportunity for personal spiritual preparation for the sacramental preparation.
B. Parents who for the first time are leading a child to confirmation are to receive catechesis about the sacrament in order to deepen their understanding and appreciation of confirmation in the life of the Church and in their own lives.
C. Parents who have previously participated in such programs should be welcomed to take part again.
D. Parents and families with special needs (e.g., family crisis, alienation from the Church) are to receive particular pastoral attention to enable them to participate fruitfully in the celebration of the sacrament.

105.2 A candidate whose parents do not participate in special programs may not for this reason be deprived of the right to confirmation (Code of Canon Law 843, 912).

Homeschooling parents who wish to read the Diocese of Pittsburgh's guidelines for catechesis or for sacramental preparation, or the instrument for evaluation of catechetical materials, may find copies at the Learning Media Center at St. Paul Seminary. Parents who wish to buy copies of these documents may do so by contacting the Secretariat for Education at (412) 456-3100.

Copyright 1997, Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh


Webmaster: Timothy Kramer -- E-mail: webmaster@catholichomeschoolpa.org
This page was last updated on June 19, 2001.