The Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, celebrated Mass Sunday, June 11, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and confirmed 49 adult Catholics from parishes in the Fort Wayne area. On Saturday, June 17, he confirmed a similar number at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend.
Although older children, usually eighth-grade students, are confirmed at Masses throughout the year, and adults who lack two or all three of the sacraments of initiation receive them at the Easter Vigil, these Masses of confirmation were for adult Catholics who were both baptized and had received first Communion, but who were not confirmed and now wished to receive that sacrament.
The adults arrived at this time in their sacramental lives for various reasons. At the Fort Wayne Mass, Tyler and Tanner Hartman, parishioners at St. Louis Besancon, now in their early 20s, had missed being confirmed earlier due to their family’s relocation. “This is something I wanted to do,” Tyler said, as his brother nodded in agreement. St. Vincent de Paul parishioner Leah Meyer said that, while her mom is Catholic, her dad is Lutheran and she was initially confirmed in his church. “But I’ve always felt more comfortable coming to the Catholic Church,” she said, and she wanted to receive the sacrament here. Wes Anderson, from Our Lady of Good Hope Parish, also said he had wished to receive the sacrament for a long time, and with his marriage approaching this seemed to be the right time for it to finally happen.
Confirmation is the sacrament by which Catholics receive a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which gives them the strength to practice their Catholic faith in every aspect of their lives and to witness to Christ in every situation. The sacrament confers seven gifts: wisdom, knowledge, counsel, understanding, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord. It deepens and strengthens the grace received at baptism. It unites the person more firmly to Christ and his church.
Bishop Rhoades told the candidates, “You will be infused with the gifts of the Holy Spirit… which give us the power to live our faith with conviction.”
Persons interested in receiving the sacrament must attend several weeks of preparatory classes. While the course of study for adults follows strict diocesan guidelines, it is more concentrated than that for junior high students, said Dorothy Scheurman, pastoral assistant at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, who personally trained the parish’s seven candidates in the program. She noted that her students “came at things with interest and questions.” At the end of the classes, she added, the pastor must attest to their readiness before they receive the sacrament.
Megan Urbaniak, director of adult formation at Christ the King Parish in South Bend, worked one-on-one with Jim Deren. Raised Catholic but never confirmed, “He was already living the life of the Spirit,” said Urbaniak, “so (confirmation) was a natural fit.” Again, there’s not just one narrative, she noted. Each person has a different story.
Bishop Rhoades prayed over the candidates: “Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who brought these your servants to new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, freeing them from sin: send upon them, O Lord, the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete; give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and piety; fill them with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.”
During the Rite of Confirmation, the candidates stood before Bishop Rhoades for Presentation of the Candidates. Then, each one came forward with his or her sponsor, a person who served as their mentor and example of a faith-filled life. Bishop addressed them by their chosen saints’ names and said, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit,” while anointing them with the sacred chrism, thus completing the essential rite of the sacrament.
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