By FRAN PERRITANO
We always hear that when we were baptized, it wasn’t our choice. Our parents made the decision for us.
When it’s time to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, we’re told it’s the decision of the young adult.
Parents, however, play a crucial role in helping to form that choice.
“As a parent, you guide your child,” said Anne Elacqua, Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament’s Faith Formation director for the junior-senior high school program. “You teach them how to get dressed, how to cross the street, how to say their ABC’s and their prayers. You watch out for their best interest. You feed them and clothe them. You bring them to the doctor and dentist for checkups. You send them to school to learn reading, writing and arithmetic.
“Teaching them about their faith is no different. It is part of your role as a parent. You made a promise to God during their baptism. It is important for you to bring them to Faith Formation classes to learn about God and to weekly Mass.”
And on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 14 young adults finalized that choice they made in collboration with their parents, guardians and sponsors as they received the Holy Spirit when they were confirmed.
Oftentimes, it’s the parents who have to make sure their child makes the right decision.
“I have had students tell me that their parents are making them go to class,” Anne said. “I tell them to give it a try and be open to the experience. Usually by the end, they don’t feel that it was awful and they were happy that they did receive the sacrament.
“As a parent, our role is to look out for our child’s well-being – physical, mental and spiritual. You wouldn’t let your child miss doctor appointments because they didn’t want to go. It should be the same with attending class.”
The Confirmation experience has changed over the years and is much different than it was for many of us. Youngsters are invited to start preparing for Confirmation in the ninth grade and continue into 10th grade to fully cover the material they need to know. It’s not only learning the spiritual part of the sacrament, but living out the gifts of the Holy Spirit by engaging with and helping others.
Hence, community service has become a major component.
“Each year in our program, a student is required to give between 10 and 15 hours of service each year,” Anne said. “Once they enter 10th grade, they have to do 20. It is very easy to do. Many of them volunteer at school, working concession stands at sporting events; they work at our parish festival; they work our pizza fritta sales (which they love doing), and many baby sit, mow lawns, shovel snow and are altar servers at Mass or sing or play musical instruments in the choir.
“They have also collected food and items for the Utica Zoo; collected hats, mittens and scarves for the children at Thea Bowman house; and we have also made Easter baskets for the children there, too. As a group, we spent a Saturday at the Utica Zoo raking and helping to get it ready for the spring season. Our service has been very diverse.”
Shae Siniscarco, one of those confirmed, said it’s nice to volunteer.
“I’ve learned that it’s important to give back to the community and people who are in need,” she said.
Julia Ollerenshaw said community service has taught her “that there are people that have it worse than me and I should appreciate what I have.”
Anne has been the Faith Formation coordinator since 2010 and has been involved with it for years prior. She gets joy and satisfaction from that role and what the program is able to accomplish.
“I think the high point seems to be watching the students mature in their faith and finally understand what it is all about,” she said. “When we moved receiving the sacrament to junior year, the maturity of the students really helped them to fully comprehend the importance of Confirmation. I also like to see the students take on adult roles such as Eucharistic ministers and lectors. Many have done so and I am so proud of them.”
There is one low point: “When you don’t see them in the pews after they receive the sacrament.”
If there is one thing Anne hopes the students have learned after the process, what would it be?
“I would hope that they learn that God is there for them and that He is only a conversation away,” she said. “God is the one to dump the bad on when things get low, and He is also the one to thank when things are going well. I would hope that they learn to be true to themselves and that God loves them unconditionally, that they should be proud to be a Catholic and trust in God. They each have gifts to give and that they have the tools inside to figure that out and become the wonderful person that God knows that they can be.”
Confirmation Class of 2015
- Anthony Alsante
- Frederick Alsante
- Michael Arabia Jr.
- Nicholas Commisso
- Zachary Commisso
- Gabriella DiSpirito
- Matthew Elacqua
- Bethany Geary
- Keaton Kukowski
- Julia Ollerenshaw
- Ariana Robertello
- Shaelin Siniscarco
- Emily Surace
- Joseph Dominick