60 adults sealed with gift of Holy Spirit during Confirmation Mass
FORT WORTH — “Welcome to your cathedral,” Bishop Michael Olson told the 60 adults from 14 parishes awaiting Confirmation to open the Oct. 13 Adult Confirmation Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral. “It is more than just a big church.”
Bishop Olson likened St. Patrick to both the Diocese of Fort Worth in particular, and the universal Catholic Church in general, which the confirmation candidates were soon to be fully initiated into.
St. Patrick offers adult Confirmation once a year, Director of Deacons Don Warner said, though adults may also choose to be confirmed with the youth at their parishes.
Stories vary from one individual to the next as to how they came to the sacrament of Confirmation later in life, Dcn. Warner said.
“A lot of it involves family situations,” Dcn. Warner explained. “There may have been a divorce and the family stopped going to church around the time of Confirmation. We’re such a mobile society now that families move because of jobs and other reasons.
“Or, for whatever reasons, the family gets away from the Church and then the individual members later come back.”
The Church’s mission, Dcn. Warner said, is to welcome those adults who come to Confirmation later in life.
“We offer adult Confirmation so they have an opportunity to receive the sacrament and receive the graces,” Dcn. Warner said.
Dcn. Warner, who works with the parishes to coordinate the ritual Mass for Confirmation, said Confirmation later in life represents both a journey and homecoming for the newly confirmed.
“Many who didn’t get confirmed earlier in life get out of high school and into college or jobs and, for some, that becomes a time of searching and they kind of move away from their faith. Then, when they get married, have kids, get older, many realize the importance of their faith and come back.”
Catholics, through Confirmation, are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit and thereby strengthened in their faith.
“The Church is universal and diverse, and in its diversity there is unity,” Bishop Olson said. “It’s not a unity that we begin with, but it’s a unity to which we are converted.”
Overcoming such disunity is crucial, Bishop Olson said.
“At the heart of our disunity with the world today is fear and anger, which results in sin that separates us not only among people but from God as well.”
The Holy Spirit, Bishop Olson said, calls to and points us always toward Jesus who reveals the Father.
“The gift of the Spirit you receive today brings you fully back into that relationship of love between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” Bishop Olson said.
Confirmation, Bishop Olson said, is not a check on a list to be completed then forgotten.
“The anointing that you receive today will leave a mark,” Bishop Olson said. “The mark is permanent. In other words, a mark of belonging. It cannot be removed. Because when the Lord makes a promise to you, He never takes it back.
“These gifts of the Holy Spirit are something for you to rely on especially in difficult times. It is precisely during difficult times — times of confusion, times of fear and resentment — that the gifts of the Holy Spirit bring us back to a sense of gratitude to be able to see grace in the midst of all those troubles.”
A sacrament of initiation, Confirmation pours into the soul of candidate the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, knowledge, fortitude, counsel, understanding, piety, and fear of God) — just as the Apostles received at Pentecost.
Emotional hugs, handshakes, and greetings of congratulations between the newly confirmed, their sponsors, and families filled St. Patrick inside and out after the Mass, as did selfies with each other and Bishop Olson.
St. Andrew parishioner Jeffrey Peter Mills echoed Dcn. Warner in comparing his Confirmation path to a journey.
Though raised Methodist, Mills several years ago began attending the Catholic Church with his wife, Cynthia Mills.
“It’s a blessing,” said Cynthia Mills who served as her husband’s sponsor. “I feel grateful that he’s here and it swells my heart.”
St. Patrick parishioner Brian Patrick, 23, said he lost track with his faith through the years before returning.
“I feel like this is my opportunity to get back on the right track,” Patrick said.
Emotions filled the day for Rubi Sanchez, a parishioner of Denton’s Immaculate Conception Parish.
“I feel good,” Sanchez said. “For some reason I wanted to cry when I got up to the bishop. I’ve felt emotional all day, but it’s a good emotional.”
St. Catherine of Siena in Carrollton parishioner Pamela Ann Martin described herself as “almost 60” and the granddaughter of a Baptist hellfire-and-brimstone preacher who detoured through the Methodist and a non-denominational church before finding her way to the Catholic Church.
“It took me a while,” Martin joked. “But the Lord kept reminding me and tugging on my heart about the Eucharist and Mary.
“I felt very blessed approaching the bishop thinking, ‘I can’t believe this is really going to happen. After all this time this is going to happen.’”
Martin’s son, Tristan Fry, who was also confirmed at St. Patrick several years earlier, exuded pride in his mother.
“She’s shown resolve to work through this process and be open to looking at something outside of herself, to look to the Church for healing and faith,” Fry said.
St. Bartholomew parishioner Miguel Benitez, 34, said the baptism of his brother’s children inspired him to solidify his commitment to the faith.
“I wanted to bring all of us back into the Catholic Church,” Benitez said. “The Confirmation process was a lot of work, but rewarding. Now that I’ve done it, it just makes me feel good about everything.”
Dcn. Warner remarked how “cool” it is to see older Catholics still growing and re-embracing their faith.
Bishop Olson reflected that the Confirmation Mass demonstrates that God’s work is always evolving.
“The joy of today is that we saw people confirmed and fully initiated in the Church at extraordinary times of their lives, outside the usual custom and practice of Confirmation of school years,” Bishop Olson said. “It’s a reminder to us that the Holy Spirit is always active and God loves us unconditionally.”