Another Confirmation Season, Come and Gone

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin - Without a Doubt

Question: What’s the difference between Confirmation and professional basketball and hockey? Answer: The Confirmation season doesn’t last forever!

And in fact, as I write this, another Confirmation season has come to an end. While the schedule can be pretty grueling, I truly enjoy visiting our parishes to confer the sacrament, to spend some time with our priests, and meet the students, their families, and fellow parishioners. The end of the season also gives me a perfect opportunity to share some thoughts.

First, my renewed congratulations to all the young people who were confirmed this year. I pray that they will always be grateful for the gift of the Holy Spirit, be faithful to the promises they made, and remain close to Christ and His Church.

Next, I’d like you to join me in a round of applause for our senior bishops – Archbishop Pearce, and Bishops Gelineau, Mulvee, Boland and Roque, who are so generous with their time in assisting with the Sacrament of Confirmation. During the spring we typically have seventy-some Confirmations throughout the diocese – it would be nearly impossible for me to officiate personally at all of them. I know that our priests and people are always delighted to welcome our senior bishops into their communities and that they share my appreciation for their dedicated ministry.

I’m very grateful to the parish priests I’ve spent some time with during the Confirmation season. Thanks for your personal kindness, your hospitality (including some great meals), your attention to the details of the liturgy, and your very obvious love and pastoral care for your students and their families.

My gratitude likewise to the Confirmation coordinators and catechists who have worked so closely with the young people in preparing for Confirmation. Thank you for your time, your dedication, and your great work in handing on the beauty of our Catholic Faith to a new generation of believers. Kudos also to all those who have been involved in the Confirmation liturgies. Without exception the liturgies have been faithful, joyful and prayerful.

My congratulations and thanks to the sponsors of the Confirmandi. I’m sure you realize that it’s a privilege to be chosen for this liturgical role, but remember that your obligation goes well beyond the liturgy. As a sponsor you accept the responsibility of praying for your candidate, encouraging them, and, most of all, giving them a good example of what it means to be an adult Catholic living in the world today. Please take your new role seriously.

One of the interesting aspects of the Confirmation visits is the reception – or the picture-taking episode – that usually follows the liturgy. I enjoy these moments because it’s a good chance to personally meet with and congratulate the students, their sponsors and families, and to share some informal conversation.

And the pictures? Well, I’ve found that the more complicated the new digital cameras become, the less people know how to use them. (The simple, convenience-store disposal cameras are still the best for my money!) There’ve been lots of pictures of shoes taken this season as photographers look down to figure-out their cameras and accidentally push the button. And one poor soul, with the camera pointed in the wrong direction, was nearly blinded for life when the flash went off!

Finally, a word about the pre-Confirmation letters I receive from students. Although I don’t require the letters, or even request them, sometimes the students write to me at the behest of their teachers. Typically the candidates tell me what it means to them to be confirmed; they explain their service projects and their Confirmation name, and why they chose their sponsor. Most letters are rather predictable; some are very personal and creative. But without a doubt the blue ribbon for my favorite Confirmation letter this season goes to the following. (Edited only slightly to protect the identity of the writer.)

Dear Bishop Tobin,

I don’t really know what to say; making my Confirmation is an honor to me. It’s the one step I need to become whole, to become a true Catholic.

I love basketball, I live it, I breathe it. I know you’re probably thinking right now why am I including basketball in my letter. Well, #1, it’s a big part of my life and, #2, before every game I pray to God in the hopes of winning, and the thing is, if we ever lose, God will always be there to comfort me, and if we ever win, well, Amen!

I love my friends and like to kick-back and chill with them. I have the coolest job in the universe. I work at (-----) and I would never give it up. It is, legit, the coolest place to work at. To get paid to listen to music all day, deal with customers, and dress like Darth Vader is great, not to mention the food. It’s not the best, but oh my God, I would kill for their onion rings. Not really kill, but you get the picture.

Making my Confirmation would make my life complete. It would be that extra step I need to be closer to my family, and most importantly, my religion and God. So I just wanted to say thanks for giving me the extra step I need to feel whole.

What a great letter. Now, if we could just harness that youthful sincerity and enthusiasm, the Church would surely come alive!