Archbishop fielded questions on restored order during live event

Teleforum draws more than 6,000 participants

Thousands of faithful listened in on a live phone call when Archbishop Samuel Aquila explained that when it comes to receiving the sacraments, a person’s age is not as important as the love in their hearts for Christ.

“Our discipleship and our relationship with the Lord do not depend on intellectual maturity or how well we understand the sacrament itself,” the archbishop said to one participant. “What is really important is how much we love the Lord and desire closeness with the Lord and encounter him every day, and receive the grace of the sacrament to help us do that.”

An appreciation and understanding of the sacraments, including confirmation, will grow over time. In preparing younger children for confirmation, it is important to form their hearts and help them fall in love with the Lord, he said.

Some 6,751 participants listened to the archbishop’s May 28 town hall-like phone call about a restoration of the order of the sacraments of initiation. He announced a five-year process he initiated in the Archdiocese of Denver to administer the sacraments in this order: baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.

In his pastoral letter Saints Among Us, released on the solemnity of Pentecost, he wrote that “the souls of our children are the battleground” in an increasingly secular world. His hope is to make the sacramental graces of confirmation available to children at the age of reason (about 7 years old) to better aid them in a spiritual battle.

During the hour-long call, participants praised his decision, shared their fears and asked what they could do to support his initiative.

One participant asked if it was a good idea to leave the decision of receiving the sacrament of confirmation to youth. He responded the sacraments are not a decision, but a gift.

“All of the sacraments are gifts from the Lord,” the archbishop responded. “They are gifts bestowed by God. I never merit or earn any sacraments.”

Staffers take messages from participants during the archbishop's interactive phone call at Broadnet company's offices.

Staffers take messages from participants during the archbishop’s interactive phone call at Broadnet company’s offices in Highlands Ranch. Photo by Andrew Wright/Denver Catholic

Another participant, “Larry,” feared what would happen to middle-school youth without required religious education to help them continue to grow in their faith.

“I think that fear is understandable because of the experience that we have had with confirmation being almost a sacrament of graduation, or as Pope Francis has called it, a sacrament of farewell, rather than the sacrament of confirmation being one that it is meant to be, in terms of instilling a love for the Lord in the hearts of the children and giving them the grace of the Holy Spirit,” Archbishop Aquila said.

Participants and callers agreed that parents are the primary teachers of the faith for children. In a poll question taken during the call, 75 percent said parents have the strongest influence on a child’s faith formation.

“The parents are the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith and as such they have the responsibility to make sure that their children continue in their faith formation,” the archbishop said. “Every child, no matter what the subject, needs to continue to learn. Most parents understand that and see the importance of that.”

About 27 percent of participants also reported that the live phone call with the archbishop was helpful in learning more about the restored order.

In spreading understanding of the restored order, the archbishop encouraged the faithful to read his pastoral letter, Saints Among Us. He also suggested reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s sections on the sacraments, and for adults, sharing their own faith experiences with youth.

The archbishop ended the calling by thanking participants and granting them a blessing. The conference call was a live phone event developed by the Highlands Ranch-based company Broadnet as a way to open communication between the archbishop and the everyday Catholic in the pews. It was the second phone call the archbishop hosted.

Visit www.archden.org/saints for more information and a recording of the call.

 

Archbishop’s May 28 Teleforum on the restored order
6,751 participants on the phone, 493 online
18 questions answered live by archbishop
106 questions submitted
3 poll questions for the audience

Participants in the May 28 live town hall-like phone call with archbishop participated in polls questions during the call.

COMING UP: From the wilderness to the Promised Land: Learn your faith in the SJV Lay Division

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One of the famous episodes in the Old Testament is the wandering of Israel in the wilderness. The descendants of Abraham, whom God promised land to come to his descendants, wander for 40 years before they enter that land. A time of great miracles, to be certain – the manna in the wilderness, the rock that gushed forth water. But also a time of hardship and death – many battles that were lost, plagues that come up on the people. All of which is why the wilderness is associated with a time of great testing in the Scriptures.

We may seem like we are in our own wilderness today, aimlessly wandering without a sense of where life is going. Know that we, too, at the Lay Division of the Seminary, particularly our Biblical and Catechetical School instructors, intimately felt this great testing this past academic year. For the first time ever, we had classes online, by sheer force of circumstance in a world of coronavirus restrictions. In many ways, we felt our own desert wondering – unable to see students in person, unable to have normal interactions with students, lecturing to a little dot on a computer screen, seeing black screens with everybody muted, with no idea if students were smiling, laughing, crying, sleeping, or whatever else may be! This was, in many respects, wandering in the wilderness institutionally. Thankfully, the one thing that we can say for certain is that all of our lives fall under God’s infinitely wise, lovingly providential hand. It’s not merely cliché to say that God will bring good out of evil, but a true statement. And so we trust. God knows, and God takes care of all those who are faithful. And God works all things for good for those who trust in Him.

This upcoming academic year will be the start of a slow reintegration of our classes into parishes. However, we will still keep an online presence, with half of our classes returning to in-person locations throughout the Archdiocese of Denver and half remaining online. Certainly one of the positives about teaching classes online, and perhaps the good that God will bring for us institutionally out of our wilderness of this past year, is that it allows for expansion to reach potential students who otherwise aren’t capable of attending our in-person classes. Given that, taking a class with us will never be easier! It doesn’t matter what part of Colorado you live in — you can take a class online with us!

If you’ve never heard of who we are, then let me briefly introduce our institution: we are the Lay Division at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary for the Archdiocese of Denver. This makes our seminary unique: not just the formation of future clerics, but also a division dedicated to the formation of the laity. Our mission is to put people in contact and communion with Jesus, who alone leads us to the heart of the Father in the Spirit. We do this through various offerings which study God’s call to each and every person to have a personal relationship with him in the Church that he established with the Precious Blood of Jesus. Our two flagship programs are the Denver Catholic Biblical School, a four year study of the Sacred Scriptures, and the Denver Catholic Catechetical School, a two year study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We also offer various other programs of study – year long “Enrichment Courses” in different topics of the faith, short courses throughout the year, lecture series throughout the liturgical seasons, and day-long workshops. Wherever you’re at in your faith, we have something for everybody!

Classes for this upcoming year begin on Monday, Sept. 13. Visit sjvlaydivision.org to see all of the options for classes, locations/online times, information sessions, and to register. Make the choice to study with us to learn your faith and come to know and love Jesus Christ!