Archbishop: ‘we need to be very careful’ with COVID-19
The increased reports of local COVID-19 cases have prompted the Archdiocese to “pause” confirmations out of caution.
Archbishop Jason Gordon made this announcement via a video message to Confirmation candidates in which he said they were part of an incredibly special group.
“You are being confirmed in 2020. 2020 is always perfect vision and yet this 2020 is so different, is so special. We’ve been through so much. We were locked down and things opened back up.”
He mentioned the increased fear and anxiety caused by the virus. “We really don’t know all that we need to know about the virus and how it is transmitted and I am choosing to be very, very careful as opposed to choosing to go forward bravely and boldly and we’re not sure what we’re doing.”
Pointing to the suspension of classes at schools since March, worsening community spread and the decision August 5 to return to virtual preparation for the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA), Archbishop Gordon said, “All of that says to me [that] we need to be very careful”.
He proposed that Confirmations take place at another time so as not to put anyone “in harm’s way”.
Archbishop Gordon said Confirmation is a character sacrament through which Catholics are sealed with Holy Chrism. Alluding to the cross which the bishop traces on the head of the candidate, he said they were “branded for Christ”. The Sacrament must be administered “in person” and cannot be done over Zoom or repeated.
He said confirmation is a very important moment in the candidate’s life. He knew that preparation had taken place, and said parishes will be asked to provide letters to candidates stating they “have finished all of the preparation that was required for Confirmation but COVID happened”.
Archbishop Gordon further stated, “Whenever you present that letter to us or if you go away to study you could present that letter to any parish in the world and they will contact my office and I will give them everything they need to Confirm you so no one will be left out and no one will be disadvantaged.”
He urged the candidates to pray every morning and night and to grow in their faith as young disciples of Jesus Christ.
“Speak to Him as if you are having a conversation with a great friend. At the end of the day you have another conversation with Him as if you are reviewing the whole day with Him, the good, the bad and the ugly”.
He said they should look at their family as a blessing during the pandemic although there would have also been suffering and pain.
Archbishop said with all that has been happening there was a lot of anxiety and a “roller coaster” of emotions but they should turn to Christ for support.
He suggested the year 2020 was allowing them to reflect on “big questions”: ‘Who are you?’; ‘What is God’s purpose for you?’.
Archbishop Gordon encouraged, “Work with God to the answer to that question. Put yourself in a place where you are ready to hear and respond to whatever God is asking of you.”
When things were again “open”, he looked forward to seeing them face to face at the Confirmation ceremony. Archbishop Gordon said it will be a wonderful moment and through it they will be strengthened in Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1285 states, “Baptism, the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the ‘sacraments of Christian initiation’ whose unity must be safeguarded.
For “by the Sacrament of Confirmation, (the baptized) are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence, they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obligated to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.”
The first group to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation during this time of pandemic were 11 males and three females at the St Patrick’s RC, Newtown on July 24.
There were 75 persons to be confirmed Friday, August 14 at the Church of Assumption, Maraval. Catechist Joanne Miller said families were really looking forward to their children receiving the Holy Spirit after two years of classes, but they understood the Archbishop’s concern for their safety. –LPG