The ordinary minister for Confirmation is the bishop. The bishop, who is the ordinary of his diocese, is always and everywhere the chief teacher, dispenser of the sacraments, and shepherd.
A priest is ordained to be the vicar of the bishop in the local parish. A deacon is ordained to serve the bishop, priest, and the people of Christ. When the bishop celebrates the sacrament of Confirmation with his priests in attendance, usually surrounding him, it expresses unity.
However, for practical purposes, the bishop may delegate the authority to confirm to an auxiliary bishop, an abbot of a monastery, or a priest. For example, if a parish has a special needs program, the priest of the parish writes to the Bishop for faculties (delegated power) to confirm these candidates.
Often, these candidates have to receive the sacrament in a limited environment, so for pastoral purposes the bishop then gives permission to the priest to celebrate the sacrament. Second, a Catholic, who has been baptized and has received first Holy Communion but never received Confirmation, may also be confirmed by the parish priest. The requirements of writing in for delegation from the bishop and of proper instruction of the candidate through a continual religious education program are the same. The bishop often delegates adult confirmations to take place at the local parish level.
A priest, according to the diocese, usually has delegation to confirm when a convert is being baptized or being received into full Communion with the Catholic Church, or when a Catholic is also receiving first Holy Communion. At the Easter Vigil, these sacraments, which are also known as the Easter Sacraments, are celebrated in local parishes by the pastor or parochial vicar with permission of the pastor. The program these candidates attend for preparation is called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or Children, depending upon the candidates’ age. Usually, the program begins in September and culminates at the Easter Vigil. The program continues afterward in a period known as Mystagogia.
Finally, a priest is given automatic permission to confirm in the case of an emergency. For example, the section in the anointing of the sick ritual, called the continuous rite of celebrating the sacraments of initiation, is used when someone who has never been baptized or confirmed is in danger of death (in periculo mortis, in Latin).
When the person is dying, he can receive all three sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist) from any priest. Due to the importance of the sacramental life of the dying person, such delegation is automatic.