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Rites of Passage Paper

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Rites of Passage

A rite of passage, marks a time when a person reaches a new and significant change in his/her life, is something that nearly all societies recognize and often hold ceremonies for. These ceremonies are held to observe a person's entry into a new stage of life and can be anything from a high school graduation ceremony or a birthday party, to a funeral. Most rites help people to understand their new roles in society. They can also help others learn to treat people in new ways after they experience certain rites of passage.

Most rites of passage fall into three main phases: separation, initiation and reintegration. In the separation phase, the participant is taken away from his/her familiar environment and former role and enters a very different and sometimes foreign routine that they are forced to adjust to and become familiar with. A rite that would fall into this category would be birth. The infant leaves a very safe and secure environment in their mother's womb to an extremely different one in the real world. It is a time when one separates themselves from everyday surroundings and society and takes a journey to a new place. This place is often where one endures hardships or tests that cause a person to think about all they have learned and have been and who they really are and intend to be. This stage is often called the initiation and is marked by a challenge or struggle. It is a time of overcoming, a time of accomplishment and at its end one emerges a changed person returning to their daily existence. Then they are reintegrated into society in a new way, as a new person (Weyenberg, 2010).

An example of a rite of passage in the United States among adolescents could be found in the Catholic Church's practice of confirmation. In the Catholic Church, babies are baptized at birth. This is the parent's and congregation's commitment to raise the child and teach the child the beliefs of the church. Around the time of puberty, usually about 7th grade, the child then is able to make their confirmation. Throughout that school year they are set apart as "the confirmands". They spend the year learning about what confirmation is and considering what it means to them as young Catholic adults. At the end of the year there is a Confirmation ceremony. At that time they are taking their baptismal promises, to follow the ways of the Catholic beliefs, upon themselves. Their parents are no longer responsible for them. They are acknowledging and accepting responsibility for their own lives and receiving the power of the Holy Spirit to help them. If this is a real experience for the young adult they are separating themselves from their naïve youth and declaring their independence from their parents and their dependence on the Holy Spirit to fill them, change them and guide them. They even choose a new name, their confirmation name, which is usually that of a chosen Saint. This is a time of rebirth, a death to the sinful youth, now forgiven and renewed by the Holy Spirit and born again. They have become confirmed members of the congregation.

Our created rite of passage offers an appropriate means for adolescents to transition into adulthood by gathering the age group that would be getting ready to enter the Jr. or Sr. High School. Distinguishing them from the rest of the school and uniting them as a class so that as a group they can acknowledge and develop their physical strengths through games and challenges. They will be able to talk about the demands and issues that concern them and be educated in ways that will offer solutions and help them to meet the challenges of moving on to young adulthood. Through coaching, modeling and reinforcement of social skills we would guide them through this initiation phase. At the end of their time there would by a celebration and then they would be reintegrated into the new school year as the next class of hopefully well prepared young adults.

There are many more elaborate examples of rites of passage with great celebration and diverse rituals. These celebrations happen all over the world in many different ways but they all include a separation from an old self, an initiation or challenge and testing period on the way to the new self, and a victory celebrated emerging with a new self-ready to reintegrate their new identity as a member of their old society.

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