Our last cathedral confirmation Wednesday evening left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am going to miss the joy and enthusiasm that our candidates and those who accompany them bring to such celebrations. It is a moving and quite humbling experience to minister the sacrament to girls and boys, women and men who are so open to the Lord and who want to participate in the life of our faith community. On the other hand confirmations, while they do energize and excite me, require much concentration and energy, so it will be good to have a break from them for awhile.
But God is always good. So when confirmations come to an end, God provides opportunities to be with other young people who bring energy, new gifts and much hope to our faith community.
One example of that is the Diocesan Junior High Youth Rally that was held at Camp Stella Maris last Sunday. Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders gathered in that beautiful setting from all parts of the diocese. They came to pray, to learn, to play, to socialize, to share and celebrate their faith.
Such gatherings are a source of endless delight for me. The Diocesan Youth Committee composed of teens and adults plan and lead the day. They do so with tender and impressive concern for the younger ones. And, they carry out the task with incredible imagination and good humor. Believe me, one need not be a junior high-school student to delight in their work. These talented teens are able to engage the hearts and minds of people of all ages — and to make it fun.
Another example of such opportunities are the high-school graduations in which I’m involved at this time of year. At this writing, I have had the pleasure of participating in McQuaid Jesuit’s graduation and look forward to similar celebrations with Our Lady of Mercy High School, Aquinas Institute and Nazareth Academy.
Each has its particular tone and distinct format reflective of its history and traditions. What they have in common is great pride in their Catholic identity, the quality of their academic offerings and a sense of solidarity they have with their alumni and their fellow students. I think what best illustrates all of the above together is the quality of the speeches offered by those graduating. Some are quite serious, others are more lighthearted. Some review the memories of the years, some articulate hopes for the future. They are all thoughtful, well-crafted and engaging.
I thank all of the above — our newly confirmed, our junior-high friends and graduates — for the way in which they have inspired all of us. And, I thank the hundreds of people — parents, teachers, youth ministers, catechists and other mentors — who day in and day out give themselves in service to and support of our precious young people.
Peace to all.