By Fr Dexter Brereton, CSSp
On Saturday, January 23, 43 young men and young women from the parish of St Francis of Assisi, Erin completed their initiation into the Catholic Church with the conferral of the Sacrament of Confirmation, by Archbishop Jason Gordon at a wonderful ceremony beginning at 10 a.m.
The ceremony marked the end of what had been a very long journey— four years—by these young people. During this period, they were shepherded by Marlene Alves, Gail Lord-Prince and for a period, Denise Jones-Peters.
On that Saturday, I as pastor, was very nervous since the Archbishop had never visited Erin and I was apprehensive whether a ‘town person’ could find us so far down south! Find us he did, as he is very technically oriented and knew how to use the GPS app on his phone very well.
I was also nervous about not flouting COVID-19 protocols. I had heard, that according to the Ministry of Health, there was an ‘uptick’ of coronavirus cases and as a result, the Ministry was now looking with ‘cokey-eye’ at churches and other religious bodies.
We decided to put up tents outside and apart from the candidates and their sponsors, only the altar servers, the Archbishop, myself, and a few support staff were seated, socially distanced, inside our church at Erin.
The decision was made to livestream the Mass on the parish’s Facebook page and I for one was delighted afterwards to see that, at least according to my modest standards, the video of the Mass was quite a big hit with thousands of views from all parts of the world.
It felt to me as though Erin had stepped out into the eyes of the world in a big way. The Archbishop in his homily to our young people gave a catechesis, reminding them of what Christian baptism does for us—it grafts us onto Christ like a hand is attached to the human body. It is in this relationship, where we are grafted onto Christ, that we find our identities as sons and daughters of God.
He also gave them this injunction: God has a purpose for your life. You can choose to live for yourself or you can choose to live for God. To live for oneself is to live a life that is small and consumed with self; to choose to live for God however is to become a better version of oneself.
Two striking features of the liturgy were the bright red confirmation stoles worn by our candidates and the wonderful choice of music by the small joint choir led by Jones-Peters complemented by the exceptionally talented keyboardist Nkosi Sucre. Our parish is truly blessed to have people like Denise and Nkosi and quite a few of my Facebook friends noted how lovely the choir sounded, as well as the choice of music including ‘Come Holy Spirit Upon Us’, a hymn that I wrote several years ago.
Speaking afterwards with our catechist Marlene Alves, she noted that the entire ceremony turned out “way better than expected”. Our young people and their families were well satisfied.
Country people are generous and so we could not let our guests leave without something to eat and so, in keeping with the times, a box lunch was provided to the candidates and their families as well as those involved in the liturgy.
On behalf of the Church, I would like to thank the 43 candidates and their families for their patience and persistence as well as the catechists who guided them to this day.
We are also grateful for the talents of Lesley Khan and her family who made sure that the decor for our Confirmation ceremony was wonderful and pleasing to the eye. We thank parishioners of the communities of Buenos Ayres, Los Bajos and Erin as well who provided the sumptuous meals. Well done, everyone!