More than 1,000 candidates will be confirmed at the newly renovated Sacred Heart Cathedral this spring, according to Sister of St. Joseph Karen Dietz, diocesan coordinator of sacramental catechesis. Starting this spring, parishes in Monroe County or within a 45-minute driving distance of the cathedral will hold their confirmations at the cathedral instead of at local churches, she said.
Parishes have had the option of conducting their confirmation ceremonies at the cathedral for the past several years, but this is the first year that certain parishes will be required to come to the cathedral for confirmations, she said, citing several reasons for this change.
“It will enable ownership of the cathedral by the whole church and really say in a new way that the cathedral is the (diocesan) church,” Sister Dietz said. “It’s a great opportunity for smaller parishes to get a sense of the bigger church.”
This sense will be amplified by the fact that parishes won’t be holding individual confirmations at the cathedral. Instead, candidates from several parishes will come together for each ceremony, she added.
Holding confirmations at the cathedral also will help preserve Bishop Matthew H. Clark’s right and responsibility as bishop to confirm diocesan candidates, Sister Dietz said. When confirmations are held at individual parishes throughout the diocese, the bishop isn’t always able to attend each ceremony, she said.
Now Bishop Clark will be able to preside over each ceremony held at the cathedral, personally confirming many of the candidates. Father Joseph A. Hart, diocesan vicar general and moderator of the Pastoral Center, and Father John Mulligan, cathedral pastor and the other diocesan vicar general, will help the bishop confirm some of the candidates, Sister Dietz said.
Eleven confirmations will be held at the cathedral on weekday evenings this spring, she said, noting that the bishop is thinking about holding Saturday-morning confirmations at the cathedral next year. This would make it easier for those outside Monroe County to travel to Sacred Heart for confirmations, she added.
Sister Dietz said most of the catechetical leaders, candidates and families she has spoken to are very excited about the change. Several people have expressed concerns about the need to restrict each candidate to bringing only a few family members due to the large number of candidates — as many as 100 — at each multiparish ceremony. Others have said they are nervous about driving into the city, she said, but most seem optimistic.
To overcome the problem of limited seating, some parishes will offer a sending-off ceremony for their candidates, recognizing and blessing the candidates at Sunday Mass a week or two before the actual confirmation, noted Joann White, faith-formation director at Greece’s Holy Name of Jesus Parish.
White said Holy Name parishioners had expressed concerns several years ago when the parish began holding its confirmations at the cathedral. After attending one ceremony at Sacred Heart, however, most agreed that the benefits outweighed the inconvenience.
“It gave the candidates a sense of the larger church. Just as you’re being initiated into the Holy Name community, you’re being initiated as a Catholic Christian,” White said.
Some candidates saw classmates from other parishes at the ceremony, marking the first time they’d realized those classmates were Catholic, she added.