A Time to Speak — A view from the pew

By Paula Miles and Jan Redle

Confirmation calls us to action, to walk the talk, to make a difference, to be the difference.

It is fall and we’ve just experienced facilitating a great afternoon with St. Bernard’s eighth-grade class. Most members of this class celebrated their confirmation last May. As we began a new school year, we spent the afternoon reflecting on their year-long journey and what completing the sacraments of initiation calls each of us to do and to become.

The expectations set before our confirmands included: understanding that the journey of faith is lifelong; acknowledging that when we fail, we need to ask God and those we’ve hurt to forgive us; needing to grow in our love and knowledge of Scripture and our church’s traditions and to use these guidelines in our daily choices; making a commitment to weekly Mass as a family; serving others as a disciple of Jesus; and promising to keep the flame of faith burning brightly.

At the gathering, the confirmands listed what they liked best about each step of the journey leading up to their confirmation when they were anointed and sealed with the Holy Spirit.

Then we looked at the eight components of ministry and asked these young people to list areas where they could be involved.

Each small group randomly chose one of the following components: advocacy, catechesis, community life, justice and service, evangelization, leadership, pastoral care, and worship and prayer.

After a discussion, the students presented a skit, and the rest of us guessed which component of ministry that group had portrayed. We soon discovered and agreed that many of the examples overlapped depending on the interpretation.

We then posed two reflective questions that we hoped would reveal how deeply the seeds of faith were planted and what expectations these teens wanted from our parish to nourish their faith commitment.

Question: “What do you appreciate about being Catholic as a result of being confirmed?”

Some of their responses were: “I am more open-hearted and faithful toward everything I do. … I appreciate God’s gifts in my life. … I feel closer to God and better about myself … my family and I are going to Mass together. … I am taking a more active role in the church. … I appreciate how many others are involved and helping at St. Bernard. … I’m grateful for all the teachers and what I’ve learned about God and my faith. … I am so glad that I am a Catholic, and I am proud to say that I am a Catholic.”

Question: “How can the adults of St. Bernard help you be a better Catholic?”

Here is what they shared: “they can influence us the most by being good role models. … by bringing us to Mass on Sunday instead of making Sunday a homework day. … share with us why your faith is important, and how it has helped you in your life. … invite us to join parish groups; we have good ideas and can help do things with you. … organize more retreats and group classes to help us grow in our faith, especially after we are in high school. … we are always being told to sing, but a lot of adults in church don’t sing or respond. Today we heard ‘walk the talk’ … let’s all do that!”

These confirmands are fully initiated Catholics in our present church. Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident; it’s a matter of choice. These confirmands made this choice, and they are calling us to re-awaken our faith and to walk with them on a lifelong journey of discipleship. They can do it, and we can help!

Paula Miles serves as the confirmation coordinator and Jan Redle as the parish catechetical coordinator for St. Bernard Church.

If you have a story you would like to submit for, “A View from the Pew,” contact Sal Della Bella at sdb@archlou.org or 585-3291.

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