Tuesday, July 12, 2011


This year I began looking for new material to use with out confirmation class. The last two times we have used the DVDs prepared by CAFE. I thought they were rather good and especially enjoy anything that involves Fr Stan Fortuna but the candidates and catechists were not as positive so I decided to find something else.

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.

ANCHOR is accessible to anyone above the age of 15.

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.


David O'Neill said...

Do you think this could be useful when (hopefully) we begin preparing young people for Confirmation in the EF?

Fr Michael Brown said...

Yes I think so. It is designed for the OF but I`m sure it could be easily used with the EF too.

Andrew Plasom-Scott said...

We use the Faith and Life series to prepare our kids of (EF) confirmation, backed up by Catechism, Frank Sheed and Mons R Knox.

An English Pastor said...

I have seen your Diocesan Programme and have to diasgree that it is solid. to give just a few indicators of the problems... Session 1 page 18 says "Jesus gave Himself to the Apostles in bread and wine", which is pure Lutheranism, since bread and wine cease to exist after the consecration. Page 14 of celebrating Reconciliation says "if Catholic adults go to Confession of the Sacrament of Reconciliation it is not to plead for forgiveness from God. It is to thank Him for it". Confession is not a sacrament of thanksgiving.
Liturgy 3 on Reconciliation says that we have a Pentitential Rite to as ourslves "if" we need to say sorry, rather than acknowledge our need to be sorry.
The whole set of papers forwarded to me speak of the Mass as 'party', and suggest the leadrs bring into the formation session a whole st of patry hats etc. Is that how we see the Mass, our the attitude of Our Lady at the foot of the cross?
I notice too that there are frwquwent liturgies throughout the course -one a month- which are added to the Rite, and which utilise further readings psuedo 'scruitinies'. Are we really to make such additions to the Mass on so frequwnt a basis all year round, ad nauseam? I'm sorry Father, but this programme, from what has been seen, is sadly lacking in dogmatic content and liturgical awareness.

Fr Michael Brown said...

English pastor thanks for your comment. The only part I noticed was what was being used in a first holy Communion prepration calss at St Sttephen`s, Longbenton and it looked rater good. I¬ve not studied the rest in any detail but the problems you mention are serious. I`m not happy about the pseudo-scrutinies intruding on the Sunday Mass and was meaning to look up any relevant legislation to see if this is permitted.

An English Pastor said...

I apologise for the typo's in my comment; I was on my way to a funeral when I pressed 'publish'. I can see much hard work has gone into the programme you are to use, but it seems that the said work went mainly into the presentation rather than the content. I do hope this is not going to be a mandatory programme, or is it being presented as an option for you?

Fr Michael Brown said...

It`s mandatory. I don`t have a copy yet.

Fr Michael Brown said...

English Pastor, I have a copy and see the bit about `in the bread and wine` but not the bit about not seeking forgiveness. Can`t follow your reference. Can you just check that it is right?