The Archdiocese of Liverpool has announced that from 2012, children will be invited to receive Confirmation before their First Communion. They will also be prepared for both sacraments after the age of eight.
A statement on the Liverpool Archdiocesan website entitled: 'With You Always - Changes in the way we celebrate Sacraments' reads:
'In recent years in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, most Catholics have been baptised as babies, made their First Communion around age seven and been confirmed as teenagers.
These three sacraments make up the process of belonging to the Church (called Christian Initiation). The sacraments weren’t always in that order, and adults preparing for initiation have always received them in the original order: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist (Communion).
From September 2012 in this Archdiocese, children who have been baptised will follow that same order. Those aged eight by the first of September 2012 will be invited to receive Confirmation and First Communion in the days between Ascension Sunday and the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) in 2013, and the same pattern will be followed each year after that.
The families of these children will be invited to explore and celebrate Reconciliation with them during Advent each year, while teenagers and their families will be invited to explore and celebrate Reconciliation during Lent each year.
The bishops will preside at some of the celebrations of Confirmation and Communion (with priests delegated to confirm at the other celebrations) and at some of the celebrations of Reconciliation with teenagers and their families.
At the same time the way children are prepared for these sacraments will change. Instead of teachers, catechists and priests teaching children and parents about the sacraments, they will help the parents to hand on their own faith to their children, fulfilling the privileges and responsibilities expressed in the Rite of Baptism. New resources will help parents to prepare their own children for these sacraments with the support of the local church community.
These changes are meant to help us understand that sacraments are gifts of God’s grace, that parents are the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith, and that we are all called to get to know Jesus better throughout our life’s journey.'
Source: Archdiocese of Liverpool: http://www.liverpoolcatholic.org.uk/index.php?p=169