Sunday, 16 May 2021 12:14

‘When we go out of our way to receive the sacraments, it says this is really important’

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The fruits of moving confirmation and first holy Communion to the Cathedral and having confirmation in third grade instead of eighth grade may be hard to envision for some, but these parents are trusting in God

In the last edition of Catholic Times, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki announced that the temporary general delegation for pastors to celebrate confirmations and first holy Communions in the parish will stop in July and those sacraments going forward will then take place at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield (except for those parishes whose pastor has requested special delegation to complete the confirmation of children in fourth grade and older by Dec. 31, 2021). The diocese received both positive and negative reaction to this announcement. Most negative comments focused on that sacraments should be celebrated at their home parish. Others were upset over the prospect of what can already be a stressful day and then having to get a family prepared for and then making a one-to-two-hour drive. For those who are frustrated and or angered by this decision, we offer the following thoughts from several parents of several children who all live more than 75 miles away from the Cathedral. We hope these reactions make you think about how you will prepare and talk to your children in preparation for this sacred event.

“One of the biggest anxieties that I face as a mother of four, is worrying about the struggles and challenges my children will face as they grow up, and which seem to be present at an even younger age. Receiving confirmation in third grade initially seemed too young because they wouldn’t understand it fully, however, I realized that what is perhaps most important for this sacrament is being prepared and having an open heart. I think children often have more of an open heart than adults do. I have realized that initiating them fully into the faith through the sacrament of confirmation in third grade will give them the fullness of the sacramental grace that will transform them immediately and give them the strength of the Holy Spirit to guide them in making good decisions and facing everyday challenges. After having two of my four children receive confirmation, I am in awe of their courage, wisdom, and faith and see the level of seriousness with which they embraced this great gift. If a child is mature enough to take holy Communion, how can I say she/he is not capable of receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the full?

“When I heard about the recent change to celebrate the sacraments of holy Communion and confirmation in the Cathedral, I was excited. To have the bishop invite us to the Mother Church of the diocese to be united together for these beautiful sacraments is a privilege. It is an outward sign of how special these sacraments are which sets this day apart. When we go out of our way to receive the sacraments, it says this is really important and something that deserves extra time and sacrifice. We have been at St. Boniface in Edwardsville for the past four years and have not been to the Cathedral in Springfield, so this will also be an opportunity for all of us to celebrate Mass there and give me the chance to show my children that they are a part of something much bigger and greater in the Catholic Church. With this sacramental grace from confirmation, they will go and come back to live out daily this change in their home parish.”
— Moira has four children (Alton deanery)

“Upon hearing about the decision to move confirmation and first Communion to the Cathedral in Springfield, I had mixed emotions, but overall, the emotion I felt most was excitement. I was so excited to think about the joy it would be to share the experience and pilgrimage with my two young boys! I imagined the buildup leading to the pilgrimage to receive the sacraments. The children would have been preparing for it throughout the school year, and it would reach its pinnacle with a trip to Springfield. The children would be able to receive the sacraments where the bishop presides, amplifying the experience. Additionally, it would give our family the opportunity to explain the significance of the bishop, the Cathedral, and the need to see ourselves as part of a larger Catholic Church.

“Like anything new, I experienced the feeling of fear about the unknown. I acknowledged the concerns which could arise from traveling the distance and ensuring everyone was ready for the hour car ride. However, I know fear is a tactic of the devil, and I needed to look past the initial concerns to discern how I was called to respond to our bishop’s request. Additionally, knowing our faith started with a sacrifice made on the cross, I was humbled and honored to make the sacrifice of traveling, stepping out of my comfort, and doing it with a smile on my face in order to be an example for my boys. I know my boys, and they would relish in the entire experience if my husband and I provided them with the right perspective and worked hard to make it an enjoyable experience. Peace then came into my life because I was sure the details would fall into place and God would bless the event as long as I continued to place my faith and trust in him.”
— Audrey has two children (Alton deanery)

“My son just received his confirmation at the Cathedral a few weeks ago, and it was so special and beautiful. We live about an hour and 45 minutes from Springfield, but it was so worth the trip! I love that the bishop will be able to confirm the kids. I’m all for this!”
— Bryn has eight children (Quincy deanery)

“This invitation calls us back to our roots in our ‘Mother Church.’ A rare opportunity to pilgrimage with our brothers and sisters from all over our diocese. The impact of such a trip to a beautiful and magnificent cathedral is worth more than gold. With it, we see our universal family; the mystical body assembled as one. There is something profoundly intimate about the sharing of the sacraments with strangers who yet at the same time are our brothers and sisters.”
— Nancy has five children (Alton deanery)

A child’s reaction to learning about confirmation and first holy Communion at the Cathedral

Katie, a mother of three in our diocese, sent us this short story which shares what her young daughter said when learning about her future trip to the Cathedral to receive confirmation and first holy Communion.

Katie: “Gracey, I have something very important to tell you.”
Gracey: “Ohhhhh yea, what about?”
Katie: “Well, the bishop has invited you to complete your sacraments of initiation, confirmation and holy Communion, at the Mother Church of the diocese, the beautiful Cathedral. It is a very special invitation as you are initiated into the universal church. What do you think?”
Gracey: (Gasp.) “The BIG church?” (With a huge grin and some more thinking.) “I would be honored, Mom.” 

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