Fr. Mark R. Francis, CSV, is one of the most widely published Viatorians — and recognized worldwide as a scholar in liturgy — yet his latest work takes a non-traditional view on a topic of interest to most Catholic families.
He calls it: Stop Celebrating the Sacrament of Departure — and it appears in the May edition of U.S. Catholic magazine. In it, Fr. Francis makes the case for timing the sacrament of confirmation closer to another sacrament of initiation, namely right before a child receives his first Eucharist.
He points to a survey completed in September, 2015 by the Pew Research Center, which reported the sobering statistic that more than half of adults raised Catholic have left the church at some point in their lives.
By making confirmation as a two-year process during the teenage years, he argues, it often equates a graduation from catechesis in a teen’s mind and a slow departure from the church.
“The time and effort expended on adolescent confirmation programs — that reach only a small percentage of our Catholic young people — could be better spent in developing more robust youth ministry for young people,” Fr. Francis writes, “the majority of whom are not ready to make a mature commitment to the church, but would be willing to explore following Jesus as way of life leading to joy and human fulfillment.”
Fr. Francis currently serves as president and professor of liturgy at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He earned his doctorate in liturgy from the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Sant’Anselmo in Rome, and has written numerous books and articles on liturgical topics.
His most recent book, Local Worship, Global Church, Popular Religion and the Liturgy was published by Liturgical Press in 2013.