Brockport man confirmed at 72 - Catholic Courier

Brockport man confirmed at 72

ROCHESTER — James Waterman moved a lot as a child.

His mother raised him on her own, and he remembers moving from apartment to apartment several times. The family never really had a home parish, so confirmation was overlooked when he became a teenager, Waterman recalled. But as an adult, he continued to go to Mass and was a longtime parishioner of St. Jerome Parish in East Rochester before moving to Brockport two years ago.

Having often attended Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in his youth, Waterman participated in a retreat there last winter to prepare for the sacrament. He was confirmed at the cathedral on April 6

Waterman is 72.

“I just happened to be older than the bishop who serves the Diocese of Rochester,” he joked of being confirmed by Bishop Salvatore R. Matano. “I was very excited about it. I thought it was a tremendous ceremony.”

In the Rochester Diocese, the average candidate is confirmed at age 14, after undergoing a two-year preparation process, according to Mary Dundas, diocesan coordinator of evangelization and sacramental catechesis. That makes Waterman one of the oldest parishioners in the diocese to receive the sacrament, she said.

He certainly was the oldest person to be sponsored by Deacon Christopher Fisher of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Brockport, which Waterman joined after moving to Brockport from East Rochester.

When he called the parish office last year to inquire about making his confirmation, the staff recommended that he enroll in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program.

During the RCIA process, Waterman got to know Deacon Fisher, who oversees the program along with Nativity’s pastor, Father Joseph McCaffrey. Waterman said he decided Deacon Fisher would be a good sponsor to help him through his faith journey. The deacon noted that Waterman initially wondered whether the RCIA program was the right place for him, but he continued attending the sessions.

“We welcomed him into our RCIA program so he’d get a better understanding of his faith, which is what he was looking for in preparation to get him confirmed,” the deacon remarked.

Waterman’s age was of interest to the group, which included two other adults, especially as he expressed such a strong desire to be confirmed, Deacon Fisher noted.

“As far as participation, (Waterman) did offer a lot of insight into his practice of his faith,” he said.

That insight gave other members of the group some perspective regarding the changes that have taken place in the church since the Second Vatican Council, and also helped fulfill Waterman’s desire to better understand his faith, Deacon Fisher said.

Earlier this year, Waterman saw an advertisement in his parish bulletin for an adult confirmation retreat at the cathedral, and decided to participate to enhance his preparation for the sacrament.

He was one of six people, mostly young adults, who participated in the one-day retreat offered last February to baptized adults who have been practicing Catholics, explained Marianne Himmelsbach, the Cathedral Community’s faith-formation coordinator. Himmelsbach noted that in her work, she is finding other adults — though perhaps not as old as Waterman — who also never received the sacrament. The cathedral retreat was designed to catechize such adults who were caught in an “in-between stage,” Himmelsbach added.

Waterman said the retreat helped provide a greater understanding of different aspects of the faith such as the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including wisdom, understanding and knowledge.

Upon being confirmed, Waterman said he hopes his greater knowledge of the faith will now help him better share it with others and evangelize as Pope Francis has asked all Catholics to do.

“All my life I’ve been telling everybody I’m a Catholic and you should be, but no one told me … how to preach,” he said. “(Let’s) see if I have better luck now … with the benefits of having received the Holy Spirit.”


Tags: Faith Formation, Monroe County West
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