By ANNE ELACQUA
So, you have a teenager ready to make his or her Confirmation. And you’re not sure of the process or how and why it happens here at St. Mary of Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament Parish.
Our Confirmation program begins in the ninth grade.
We like our students to attend a two-year program in order to prepare them to receive the sacrament of Confirmation in the fall of their junior year.
We have found in recent years that waiting until their junior year has really made a difference in the maturity of the candidates. It has truly helped them to see the meaning of the sacrament and how it will help them in their everyday lives. They can fully understand the depths of this beautiful sacrament and what it can mean to them.
Our students are required to all give of themselves in service to our parish or the community. They give a minimum of 10 hours of service as ninth-graders and then 20 hours as 10th-graders. So many of them do more than the required hours. They also give a brief reflection on it and how they share their skills and talents to others in need.
Our candidates also have some other written work that they also are required to do in the 10th grade. They have to research a name of a saint that they would like to take and explain why this saint is meaningful to them. They also have to explain who their sponsor is and why they picked this person.
There usually are about 18 classes each year that they attend where they learn about the sacrament and other topics about their faith. We help them to learn about relevant topics that a teenager would want to discuss and learn how the Catholic Church looks upon these topics and how they can use their faith to guide their lives. They participate in class discussions and learn from one another.
Also required by the diocese is a Confirmation retreat and direct prep classes. The retreat usually is a daylong event that can either be here or elsewhere. We have gone to Syracuse University’s Newman Center for a retreat in the past. There, the candidates hear many witness talks and see how other young adults are using their faith to center themselves in their lives.
Finally in the fall prior to Confirmation, we have our last direct prep classes to pull it all together. Candidates learn all about the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and how these gifts can help them in their future. They also are able to help plan their liturgy and make it personal for their class.
We have many talented students in our program and many will sing at their Confirmation Mass. It is a wonderful way to give their talents to their church. We hope that after they are confirmed, they will all find a way to share of themselves with their parish.
Our program is a way for our teenagers to learn about their faith, ask questions and see for themselves how wonderful this sacrament can be for them. We hope they will see for themselves how much their faith can guide them in their future and that God is the answer to all of their questions.