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  • Term Mode
  • Semester 2Online Scheduled




THCT602 Sacraments and Sacramentality

Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning and incorporates reading, analysing unit content, discussion forums, exercises, regular collaboration opportunities, and in some learning modes, lectures, and scheduled videoconferences. The total includes research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit concerns the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist – within the Catholic tradition. It introduces the idea of sacraments and sacramentality and outlines the scriptural, historical, ritual, and theological underpinnings of the Church’s initiatory practices. It focuses on both the theoretical and practical aspects of celebrating these sacraments in the Church today and considers the different patterns of initiation for children and adults. This unit aims to provide students with a broad understanding of how Sacraments of Initiation lay the foundation of the Christian life, how Sacraments of Initiation developed within the history of the Church and how their theology and ritual practice have been adapted over time to the changing historical circumstances and theological developments in the life of the Church.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Give an account of the historical development of Christian initiationGC1
LO2Demonstrate a fundamental understanding of the theology underlying the Sacraments of InitiationGC1
LO3Outline the diversity of ritual patterns for Christian initiation respecting the dignity and individual needs of children and adults (RCIA)GC1, GC6
LO4Locate and analyse key, contemporary, official Church documents governing the initiation of Christians into the Catholic Church todayGC1, GC2, GC7, GC9
LO5Use a variety of resources to prepare initiatory liturgies for a range of school and parish contextsGC5, GC6, GC8, GC11


Topics will include:·     

  • Sacraments and sacramentality
  • Biblical foundations of Sacraments of Initiation
  • Historical development of the Catholic Sacraments of Initiation
  • Theology and Rite of Baptism
  • Theology and Rite of Confirmation
  • Theology and celebration of Eucharist
  • The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
  • Issues surrounding the order of reception of Sacraments of Initiation

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes engagement with modular unit materials, interpretive reading, written contributions, critical analysis, discussion forums, exercises, regular collaboration opportunities, and in some learning modes, tutorials, lectures and videoconferences. The remaining hours typically involve research and the preparation of tasks for assessment. Students will develop skills in reading comprehension, critical analysis, research and writing, and a capacity to prepare initiatory liturgies for a range of school and parish contexts. Online materials are carefully structured and sequenced in modules with built-in exercises and activities designed to support the achievement of the learning outcomes.

The aim of this unit is to provide opportunities for students to learn the basics of sacramental theology – its history, diversity, and official Church teaching, with a focus on the Sacraments of Initiation. Through online exercises and collaborative activities, students will learn to apply principles, reflect critically on key information, analyse and integrate new information with existing knowledge, draw meaningful new connections, and then work individually to apply what they have learned to the preparation and celebration of liturgies for their own unique circumstances. Students are encouraged to reflect critically on their personal experiences and observations in light of materials covered in the unit. Assessment tasks are integrated into and built upon modular unit materials but extend students beyond the modular materials to engage in analysis and research tasks which require them to apply the knowledge they have gained through completion of the unit’s readings, analyses, and exercises.

The delivery mode of this unit requires students to be independent learners, responsible for managing and modifying their own learning journey in light of frequent constructive feedback provided on their learning progress as evidenced in exercises and assessment tasks. Students are encouraged to establish a regular study schedule for individual work and online engagement. Key to success in online study is regular reading, and interaction with fellow students and academic specialists – through online forums and videoconferences (depending on learning mode) where students are provided with the opportunity to build a supportive and encouraging learning community so that even when studying at a distance they feel connected to their fellow learners and academic specialists as they proceed through the unit together.

Mode of delivery: This unit may be offered in different modes to cater to the learning needs and preferences of a range of participants:

On Campus:

Most learning activities or classes are delivered at a scheduled time, on campus, to enable in-person interactions. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.

Online Unscheduled:

Learning activities are accessible anytime, anywhere. These units are normally delivered fully online and will not appear in a student’s timetable. 

Online Scheduled:

All learning activities are held online and will require some attendance to enable online interaction. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.

ACU Online:

This mode uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress.

Assessment strategy and rationale

To pass this unit students are required to achieve a cumulative mark of 50% or higher, and to demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome. The assessment tasks for this unit are designed together to enable students to meet these requirements..

Assessment task 1: Forum Contributions require students to write online postings and responses to the work of their fellow students which is informed by material presented in the modular materials. This assessment task provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate and articulate their understanding of key aspects of the materials and concepts under consideration in this unit in a focused manner. Online posts and responses provide an opportunity for students to consider, peer-review and offer constructive feedback to each other on postings in light of knowledge gained through study and analysis of unit materials.

Assessment task 2: Liturgy Exercises provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their knowledge of and apply key principles studied in the unit. Through these targeted exercises students explore in a focused manner several key concepts which are foundational to understanding the Sacraments of Initiation.

Assessment task 3: requires students to research and write a Major Essay which enables them to engage in an extended investigation and critical consideration of a topic central to the unit, in dialogue with unit materials and other relevant primary and secondary sources. This assessment offers students the chance to demonstrate a synthesis of knowledge and insight gained throughout the unit and to apply it to a practical setting.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Forum contributions: require students to demonstrate their knowledge of key aspects of Sacraments of Initiation in online posts and to respond critically to the postings of other students.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5

Liturgy Exercises: require students to demonstrate in practical exercises their knowledge of key concepts of Sacraments of Initiation through analysis and application of key principles to practical contexts.


LO4, LO5

Major Essay: requires students to research and write an extended critical consideration of a set essay topic synthesising and demonstrating understanding and application of central concepts of Sacraments of Initiation covered in the unit.


LO2, LO4, LO5

Representative texts and references

Baldovin, John F. Bread of Life, Cup of Salvation: Understanding the Mass. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003.

Baldovin, John F., ed. Catholic Sacraments: A Rich Source of Blessings. New York: Paulist, 2015.

Boersma, Hans and Matthew Levering, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Sacramental Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Gabrielli, Timothy R. Confirmation: How a Sacrament of God’s Grace Became All About Us. Collegeville: Liturgical, 2013.

Irwin, Kevin W. The Sacraments: Historical Foundations and Liturgical Theology. New York: Paulist, 2016.

Johnson, M.E. The Rites of Christian Initiation: Their Evolution and Interpretation. Rev. ed. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2007.

Laurence, John D. The Sacrament of the Eucharist. Lex Orandi Series. Collegeville: Liturgical, 2012.

Mitchell, Nathan. Eucharist as Sacrament of Initiation. Forum Essays Number Two. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 2003.

Morris, Thomas H. The RCIA: Transforming the Church – A Resource for Pastoral Implementation. Rev. ed. New York: Paulist, 1997.

Witczak, Michael G. The Sacrament of Baptism. Lex Orandi Series. Collegeville: Liturgical, 2011.

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