It has been several years since Christ the Redeemer celebrated the sacrament of confirmation on a weeknight. The celebrations have typically taken place on a weekend, usually sometime between Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. The Bishop’s Office sets the schedule and part of the excitement is not knowing exactly when, from year to year, the celebration will take place.
This year, Christ the Redeemer was honored to have Most Rev. Paul S. Loverde as the celebrant. Bishop Loverde is celebrating his 50th Anniversary Year of Ordination. He is also approaching his age-limit, for which he must tender his resignation to Pope Francis (whether Pope Francis accepts it or not is another unknown).
Pastor, Fr. Patrick Cogan, SA, JCD was joined by his minister general V. Rev. Brian F. Terry, SA and parish vicar Rev. Jaime Villalobos for this auspicious bi-lingual celebration. Rev. Canesius Tah, a visiting priest from Baltimore and Rev. Edward R. Horkan from St. James Parish also came as con-celebrants to share the evening’s celebration with 113 Confirmation Candidates. (Fr. Horkan was also a Confirmation sponsor for his nephew).
Originally planned as a Confirmation celebrated outside of a Mass in consideration of the weeknight hours and the size of the Confirmation Group, Bishop Loverde graciously considered the needs of the 16 Confirmation Candidates who had also prepared to celebrate their First Communion. Indeed, all the newly confirmed, whether they celebrated their “First” Communion that evening or even many years ago, celebrated Communion for the first time as fully initiated members of the church that evening.
The sanctuary was packed and filled with excitement. The Knights of Columbus Honor Guard was on full display. The choir, joined by a brass ensemble, led the assembly in English and Spanish music. The readings and Gospel were proclaimed in both languages as well. The only other times that Christ the Redeemer comes together with both language communities is for the start of the year Catechist Mass and for the Holy Week celebrations of the Triduum. This makes annual celebrations such as these cyclical, but also highly regarded.
Confirmation Candidates take a minimum of two-years preparation in Religious Education prior to celebrating Confirmation. This particular group had just completed their final projects of 15+ hours of community service and completed a Confirmation Retreat held at the parish in September. Some others went on the pilgrimage to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families with Pope Francis instead of the Confirmation Retreat.
Bishop Loverde continued his tradition of passing out prayer cards to all the newly confirmed during the closing processional. He made himself available along with the priests for photos in Atonement Hall following the celebration. From all accounts, minus some last minute or unforeseen activities, the celebration was memorable and well received.