Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota has reported that during his recent ad limina visit to Rome, Pope Benedict XVI expressed approval of the order in which children in that diocese receive the sacraments of initiation. The Diocese of Fargo confers baptism, then confirmation, then first Eucharist, unlike most dioceses, which confirm young people only after they’ve made their First Communion.
“I was very surprised in what the Pope said to me, in terms of how happy he was that the sacraments of initiation have been restored to their proper order of baptism, confirmation then first Eucharist,” said Bishop Aquila, after meeting Pope Benedict on March 8.
Bishop Aquila was one of five bishops from North and South Dakota to meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican as part of their March 5-10 “ad limina” visit to the Rome.
Over the past seven years the Diocese of Fargo has changed the typical order of the sacraments of initiation. Instead of confirmation coming third and at an older age, it is now conferred on children at a younger age and prior to First Communion.
Bishop Aquila said he made the changes because “it really puts the emphasis on the Eucharist as being what completes the sacraments of initiation” and on confirmation as “sealing and completing baptism.”