St. Jude Parish in South Bend has had a busy fall as the community recently celebrated its 75th anniversary and hosted a relic of St. Jude from Rome. What better way to close out the year of celebrations than with the Sacrament of Confirmation?
On the morning of Saturday, November 4, Bishop Rhoades celebrated the confirmation Mass for the eighth graders at St. Jude. Sixteen young people, most of them parishioners at St. Jude Parish, received the sacrament from Bishop Rhoades, who recently had returned to the diocese after his monthlong stay in Rome, where he participated in the general assembly of the Synod of Bishops. “I’m still under jetlag,” he joked to the congregation.
Despite the quick travel turnaround, the bishop took the time to interact personally with the confirmands. He asked them questions about the Faith and talked about the letters they had sent to him as part of their confirmation preparation – for instance, telling a student who had chosen St. Cecilia as her patron that he had visited that saint’s basilica while he was in Rome. Another student had chosen Blessed Dom Justo Takayama, a Japanese samurai, as his patron saint. Bishop Rhoades told him that he had had to look up information on Blessed Takayama after reading the student’s letter. “I’ve confirmed thousands of young people, and I’m always finding new saints,” Bishop Rhoades said.
In his homily, Bishop Rhoades gave the young people their last words of preparation before the sacrament. While noting that the Holy Spirit already dwells in us Christians through baptism, he said, “Confirmation gives you even more grace, the special grace to bear witness to Christ in your words and deeds.”
Bishop Rhoades also spoke on one of the Mass readings, Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, where Paul speaks of the people “sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit.” “That’s what will happen to you today,” Bishop Rhoades told the confirmands, adding that the mission of being a Christian in Paul’s day is still the same today – the mission to live according to the Gospel.
Bishop Rhoades also offered advice for life as a confirmed member of the Church. He encouraged those being confirmed to develop relationships with patron saints, to continually grow in faith, to be aware of what gift of the Holy Spirit they need most at each time in their lives. In times of difficulty, he told them, “Ask the Holy Spirit, he is the counselor of our souls.”
Bishop Rhoades also told the confirmands that he hoped they would strive for sainthood. “I doubt if any of you will be called to martyrdom, but you’re being called to live your faith in Christ and not be a lukewarm Christian.”
At the end of his homily, he added, “Only God can satisfy our deepest hungers, our deepest desires.”
Heather Buison, Director of Faith Formation at St. Jude, helped to guide the students on their confirmation journeys. She has been preparing students for confirmation for 13 years, six of which she has spent at St. Jude. “This current eighth-grade class holds a special place in my heart, because they were my first class I helped prepare for first Communion when I started at St. Jude,” she said.
Buison added that formal preparations for confirmation begin in seventh grade, when the students prayerfully pick their sponsors. Service hours, prayer, and conversations are also a large part of the preparation.
“It is always a blessing to be able to help the young people grow in their faith so as to prepare their hearts for the gift of confirmation,” Buison said.
The next day, Bishop Rhoades traveled south in the diocese to confirm students at St. Jude Catholic Church in Fort Wayne.
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