Thanks to a comment I left on another blog I was told about the Anchor course prepared by the Dominican Sisters of St Joseph based in the New Forest. So I ordered copies and we set to work. I`m glad to say the catechists this year have repeatedly told me how much more they have enjoyed the session this time. I wasn`t really sure how the Anchor course would work as it is not specifically geared to conformation preparation. What it does give is a general catechesis on the basics of the faith using the structure of the Mass. The Anchor part of our sessions have lasted about forty-five minutes and the first fifteen minutes were tailored to the needs of confirmation candidates. Thus we first asked the children to give us a short account of the life of the saint whose name they had chosen and then used that section to talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. What has been a great improvement on previous attempts was the last ten minutes of each session where the candidates came into church where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and they knelt and followed the suggested prayer format. (In previous years they had stood or sat in a circle with a candle in the middle:something I was eager to change.)
However Anchor has many uses. The website says:
ANCHOR is especially written for parents:
- parents of children undergoing a sacramental preparation
(Baptism, First Holy Communion, Confirmation)
- parents of children attending Catholic schools.
Yet it may be used with any adult who desires to understand the Catholic Faith.
ANCHOR can be used as a complement to:
- RCIA programmes
- Confirmation programmes
- Marriage preparation programmes
- baptism preparation for parents.
ANCHOR can be used as a Lenten course, as a Faith through Art course, or as a refresher course on the Eucharist.
ANCHOR can also be used as an introduction to the new translation of the Roman Missal in the Parish.
Our confirmation candidates are younger than 15 but they have responded well. The attractive artwork helps and the first part involves the candidates thinking through the reproduced paintings which illustrate each topic.
Our diocese is currently unveiling a new catechetical programme. I have seen some of the material for First Holy Communions and have been impressed that at last we have something with solid content to use. [UPDATE 20.07.11 see the comments box: English Pastor has read more of the course than me and points to some problems. 21.07.11 I`ve just got a copy today and will be reading thruogh tomorrow.] I believe we will also be getting something on confirmation. I look forward to seeing it. However I`m sure there will always be a place for the Anchor course in parish life given its flexibility and would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for sound material for catechesis.