Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chosen: Your Journey Toward Confirmation Blog Tour

As a convert who married a cradle Catholic, my Confirmation experience was much different than my wife's experience. She was confirmed with a group of her classmates, people she knew, in 8th Grade. I was confirmed on an Easter Vigil in my 20s, with a group of people I didn't know. What's more is our children have the potential to have a different experience than both of us. Our archdiocese has bumped the age of Confirmation back to 11th Grade to encourage children to have a more active part in their salvation. There is also the hope that we won't have a high disappearance rate from adolescence to adulthood. Unfortunately, the change happened before guidelines and teaching materials were developed. FORTUNATELY, Ascension Press has developed just such a program for Confirmation called Chosen!

As someone who reluctantly taught 7th Grade Religious Education before (and lived to tell about it), I know first hand how tough it can be to reach teens. It takes knowledge of the Faith, love of the Faith, and a dynamic personality to keep them engaged and interested. Therefore, I knew that in order for Chosen to succeed, it would need an amazing line up of young, dynamic Catholic speakers. Well, how do the names Jason Evert, Chris Stefanick, and Leah Darrow (just to name a few) strike you? Can you say JACKPOT?! Ascension Press did a marvellous job selecting a veritable Who's Who of awesome Catholic speakers for this project!

I also love that this series is filmed both in the U.S. and internationally. It reminds me a bit of Fr. Barron's Catholicism series in this regard. Your teens will be transported to places like Rome and New Orleans (Sorry Brian Butler, but New Orleans didn't invent Mardi Gras, Mobile, AL did!) all while learning the tenets of the Catholic Faith. But what will they be learning you ask? With 2000 years of history, there is an unending wealth of knowledge they could learn. Chosen, however, focuses on topics that matter both to teens and in the grand scheme of life. They'll learn about God, Jesus, Mary, Salvation History, the Sacraments, and even Chastity!

Each lesson (24 in all) is only 15-25 minutes long. At first, I was like, "This isn't enough time to teach all the beauty that Catholicism has to offer." After having some time to think about it, I now see that when I was their age 15-25 minutes can feel like an eternity. So it makes total sense to keep the videos, brief, powerful, engaging, and lively! I tried to put myself in a teenager's shoes and figure out which video would have spoke the most to the teenage version of me, but then I realized that was foolish. Teenagers, like all people, have different interests and different tastes. So I just decided to pick what spoke the most to me now and that was the last two videos, "How do I build the kingdom?" and "Where do I go from here?" The answers to these questions were pertinent for both teenagers and adults. We all need to become great; become more like Jesus, and do our job to bring people to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith!

Apart from the great videos, there are also great workbooks and guides. I've used Ascension Press' study programs before, and they always deliver high quality resources. They went the extra step this time though. Normally, you get a Leader's Guide and a Student Workbook. However, with Chosen, there is also a Parent's Guide AND a Sponsor's Guide. With this all-encompassing approach, everyone in the process is involved and educated, not just the child being confirmed. This program is not a one-size fits all magic pill that will fix all your Confirmation woes, but let's be honest...no program is. This is definitely a valuable tool that can be utilized by all, and your parish would do well to invest in it. I know I will be recommending this to our Director of Religious Education (DRE) and all DREs I know in my Archdiocese.

If you'd like to see a trailer for Chosen, check out the video below:



In case you missed any of the previous blog tour days, here you go. There's interviews, giveaways, and great perspectives from some of the world's best Catholic bloggers.