On February 11, Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, New Mexico, announced that the diocese will restore the order of the sacraments of initiation for children who are baptized in infancy. The process of implementing this change will extend over three years.
Gallup will be the thirteenth American diocese to adopt the practice of celebrating confirmation prior to first communion.
Pastoral considerations weighed heavily into the decision, which was reached in consultation with the Presbyteral Council. According to the bishop:
Receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation long after the reception of Holy Communion tends to weaken the understanding of the bond and relationship that the Sacraments of Initiation have with one another. Since the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation lead the faithful to the culmination of their initiation into the Christian Life in Holy Communion, the practice of postponing the reception of Confirmation until the teenage years has not always been beneficial. An alarming percentage of our Catholic children who were baptized and received First Holy Communion, do not continue their formation for the Sacrament of Confirmation, and in too many cases, never receive the Sacrament. As your shepherd, I believe it is important for our children, before they reach their adolescent years, to receive the strength of this important Sacrament.
You can read Bishop Wall’s entire letter here.
The diocese of Gallup was founded in 1939. It spans 55,000 square miles in the states of New Mexico and Arizona and primarily serves Native American and Hispanic populations.