Across the Diocese, groups of young people have been meeting: to prepare for, and learn more about, the Sacrament of Confirmation. It’s the time of year when parishes are making preparations to welcome Bishop Peter, as their young people’s journey of catechesis and preparation reaches it’s end. On Saturdays in March and April, many Confirmandi joined the Bishop for Blaze: a retreat day that took place at Thornton College, for those preparing to receive the Sacrament.
Both of the days included input from a guest speaker, worship, a reconciliation service, workshops (from art and drama to Cafod and a workshop for boys and a workshop for girls, looking at how God calls men and women to holiness respectively), a Mass for which young people prepared, and of course a chance to enjoy the beautiful grounds of Thornton College.
On the March date, Jimmy Mitchell, a speaker and musician from Nashville, Tennessee, shared his own story of encountering God as he grew up. In fact Jimmy’s talk took us through each step of humanity's journey with God (A.K.A salvation history - from the time of creation, when God the Father created humanity out of Love, to God sending his Son to free us all from sin and redeem us, right through to Pentecost when God sends the Holy Spirit to help usbecome Saints! ) and how Jimmy began to see the truth of this journey unfolding at different moments in his own life. What’s really cool, is that the same outpouring of the Spirit that took place at Pentecost, takes place at your Confirmation!
In April, Confirmandi met Sister Maria Natella, from the Dominican Sisters of St. Joseph community. She reminded the young people that they aren’t the only ones looking forward to their Confirmation. The Holy Spirit himself is actually waiting in eager anticipation! “The Holy Spirit wants to grow inside you, he wants to set you on fire so that you can become Love.”
One of the phrases we sometimes use is ‘an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.’ (In fact we’ve already used it once!) Well Sister Maria reminded us just how much we the Holy Spirit longs to be poured out upon us. We aren’t just talking about a little trickle here! (Check out the picture above of Sister Maria’s demonstration!)
Confirmand also had the chance to meet Bishop Peter and put questions to him. Young people asked what the best thing about being the Bishop was (“the many wonderful people I get to meet”) and how the Bishop had chosen his Confirmation name. (St. Joseph was shy and so am I, but importantly, he was just and loyal: good things to aim for.”) As the Bishop talked about his own ministry, he encouraged the young men present to be brave and joyful when thinking about the priesthood: “Don’t say ‘I think I’ve got a call to the priesthood' as if you’ve caught measles!”
Let us pray for the young people who are being Confirmed at this time. The prayer that Sister Maria shared with the young people is one we can all make daily: “Lord, fan into a flame the faith you have given to me at my baptism.”