Congratulations on being asked to sponsor a young person in their Confirmation. Thank you so much for supporting one our Candidates here at St. Paul this spring! One of our goals this year is to help sponsors be amazing sponsors. Through this webpage, you'll have access to information and resources to help you walk confidently alongside your Candidate as we all approach the date of Confirmation. Here's an outline of what is provided on this page:
- Help! I'm a Confirmation Sponsor!
- The Called & the Chosen: The Role of a Confirmation Sponsor
- Back to the Basics: Understanding the Sacraments of Initiation
- The Road to Emmaus: Leading Your Candidate Toward Christ
We hope this will be a fruitful season of your life and want to support you in any way we can. Please feel free to email me directly (email@example.com) with any questions.
- Help! I'm A Confirmation Sponsor!
- The Called and Chosen: The Role of a Confirmation Sponsor
- Back to Basics: Understanding the Sacraments of Initiation
- The Road to Emmaus: Leading Your Candidate Toward Christ
When you think of a religious role model, what images and people come to mind? Saints? Priests or religious sisters? Do you see pictures of people serving the poor or preaching the Gospel in a far off country? Do you see martyrs laying down their lives heroically for Christ? Chances are that a picture of your face was not among the many images you conjured up. You have been in shock - you may still be in shock - that someone, a young someone, thinks enough of you to ask you to be a sponsor of the Sacrament of Confirmation.
At first you may have been honored. After all, when someone says they respect your example and want you to be a role model in faith, it means something. Even if in your family the role of Confirmation sponsor doesn’t have a lot to do with faith, you were picked.
But, after the pride faded, feelings of panic may have set in. “I’m not a model Catholic!” you may have reasoned as you found yourself trying to remember the last time you went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Maybe you have been absent at Mass or are just coming back to the Church.
Perhaps an invitation to become a sponsor sent you to Google to try to remember all you forgot from your own religious education classes.
It is possible you are comfortable in the knowledge you have, but you understand you have much more to learn in order to really “fulfill” the role of Confirmation sponsor.
Or maybe you’re very confident in your Catholic faith and knowledgeable but just need a little boost in your theological confidence.
Whatever the case may be… do not fear - you are not alone :)
If you feel like you aren’t ready or perhaps you are the wrong person for the job… congratulations! You are part of a long line of people that nobody suspected to be a leader in the Church, a mentor to others, or an example of faith. The moment your Confirmation candidate asked you to be a sponsor, you received an invitation to join the short of “unlikely” saints.
You are invited to join St. Paul (formerly known as Saul), a well-known persecutor of the first Christians. He didn’t find Christ when someone asked him to be a Confirmation sponsor; he was on his way to get permission to persecute and kill Christians (Acts 9:1). But after encountering Christ and leaving his murderous ways behind, St. Paul passionately spread the Gospel to several regions whom he kept in touch with through various letters (you know… those things we hear from at Mass? The readings…).
Toward the end of his life, St. Paul took on a young man to mentor named Timothy. St. Paul’s letters to Timothy are moving expressions of love, instruction, and encouragement. It is incredible that a man who at a different time would have persecuted Timothy actually mentors him toward sainthood.
You are invited to join Moses (a murderer, btw) who was chosen by God to lead a whole nation out of slavery. God asked him to be the Israelite’s leader and example of faith. Moses objected because he was concerned about his ability to speak.
Moses had a speech impediment and worried that people would ignore what he had to say. So, God appointed Moses’ brother, Aaron, to speak on Moses’ behalf. Why didn’t God just appoint Aaron to begin with? God wanted Moses’ heart, not his speaking ability. Your candidate did not choose you because you are a great preacher (though you might be); your candidate chose you because you are you. They chose you because of your individual heart and the relationship you share with your candidate.
“Great..” you may be thinking, “I appreciate the invitation, but I really don’t do a lot of religious things. I know a lot of people who are very involved at the parish, but that isn’t me.”
Then I invite you to have a conversation with Martha and Mary.
In Scripture, we read that Jesus spent time with Martha and Mary one evening for dinner. Martha was hard at work making preparations, but Mary was just sitting near Jesus listening to Him speak. Martha was, understandably, upset. Perhaps you have found yourself in her position, doing all of the work while your co-worker sits around and doesn’t lift a finger. Martha, out of frustration, asks Jesus to relay a message to Mary, “Please help me in the kitchen.” Jesus’ response to Martha is incredible:
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and trouble about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”
- Luke 10:41-42
It isn’t important how much you do or do not know right now; what is important is that you are willing to grow in your relationship with Christ by learning with your candidate and expanding your prayer life. We hope that Support System will help you do both. For now, avoid the temptation to over-join - don’t join every parish club, ministry, or team simply because that is what you think holy people or a sponsor should do. Simply get to know Jesus Christ the way Mary did - by sitting close to Him and learning.
God is calling you to something incredible regardless of how qualified you think you are. I bet you never thought of your candidate as someone who could speak God’s call - it is just one of the ways that he or she is going to amaze you in the coming months.
Taking advantage of “Support System”
The purpose of this page - Support System - is to help you respond to that call and grow, not only as a sponsor, but also as a disciple of Christ. It is alright to not have it all figured out or put together - no one does! Every person is growing in some way. Saying “yes” to becoming a sponsor is the first step for you in a new phase of growth in your faith and role as a mentor.
Along the way, we hope to provide you with helpful hints, tips, and prayers that will encourage you to grow into a great sponsor and disciple of Christ.
Thank you for saying yes to sponsorship. The coming weeks are going to be a great adventure that will impact you and your Confirmation candidate for a lifetime.
Batman has Robin. Obi-Wan has Luke Skywalker. Elsa has Anna (and Olaf). Every great leader has a disciple or companion.
From the beginning of time, God gives us great leaders, followers, and companions. Adam and Eve were created to complement one another (Genesis 1:27), a great leader named Joshua had Moses as his mentor (Deuteronomy 34:9), and even Jesus chose 12 men to follow him and become leaders themselves (Luke 6:12-16).
Jesus mentored disciples that, in turn, mentored others and made more disciples of Christ. These disciples were more than students; they learned from Christ in order to become like Christ. They weren’t educated on a subject - they were educated on a person.
A young person who is in the Confirmation process is what the Church calls a Candidate for the Sacrament of Confirmation. This candidate is looking to you as a master, mentor, and teacher. The process can be scary and exciting, and sometimes you may feel a bit out of control. Even now, you may be wondering what exactly it is you need to do int he coming weeks. The path to becoming a great sponsor doesn’t come with a long “to-do” list; it includes a few basic requirements that you are asked to do well. You’ve already completed one - you responded, “yes,” to the call of sponsorship.
What am I getting myself into?
When you were asked to be a sponsor, your first response was probably a proud, “YES!” Of course I will be!” But, after the excitement subsided a bit, the second question might have popped into your mind, “So… what exact is going to be expected of me?”
There are two answers to this question. The first responds to the basic requirements of a sponsor. In order for a person to serve as a sponsor within the Catholic Church, he or she must be:
- A practicing Catholic in good standing with the Catholic Church. This means that there is nothing currently separating the sponsor from full communion with the Church.
- A person at least 16 years of age.
- A fully initiated Catholic. This is a person that has received all three Initiation Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.
The second answer to the question, “What is expected of me?” goes beyond the basic requirements and into what it means to become a mentor for life and a great Confirmation sponsor.
Beyond the Basics
Any person can show up on the day your candidate receives the Sacrament of Confirmation and go through the motions. Being a great Confirmation sponsor is a radically different responsibility when it comes to practicing the faith. The mentoring and companionship that unfold over the Confirmation journey is one of beauty and conversion.
A great sponsor should…
- Love Jesus. The candidate is called into a deeper relationship with Jesus and it’s your job to help foster that relationship. Shouldn’t you also love He whom your candidate is choosing to follow? What good would a basketball coach be to his or her basketball team or a history teacher be to his or her class if they did not love that which they were coaching and teaching? In the same way, you are called to look at your own personal relationship with Jesus and see how your life emulates your love for him. If it isn’t hewer you want it to be, there’s time to work on that.
- Love the Church. Jesus instituted the Church intentionally; it was no accident. Jesus also left the Church in the hands of people, and people can sin and disappoints. The Church admits this as she is made of imperfect human beings. This is a great mystery and admission - that human beings need a savior and the Church serves the means to chic they all find salvation. During this process focus on the joy sou the Church, the times the Church makes you proud, and the glory that the Church brings to millions of people around the globe. If you have questions or struggles about Church teaching, discuss them with your priest at your parish, not your Candidate.
- Love the Candidate. While this seems self-explanatory, it has to be said: Your appropriate care end concern for the candidate and his or her faith journey is of utmost value. Throughout the journey, you’ll be asked to listen to the candidate, per haps write a letter of affirmation, show support, and guide him or her in the difficult and trying times of life. By loving the candidate, you are Christ to them in a very real and tangible way.
A sponsor is not…
- A Candidate’s friend. Be sure to maintain appropriate boundaries. You’re being held to a higher standard of mentorship than other adults. There may be times when you need to lovingly call your candidate out for his or her behavior; this is necessary and scriptural (Luke 17:3). You should never try to earn respect from your candidate by supplying inappropriate materials for him or her. Your witness of Catholic faith will be enough to earn their respect.
- A Candidate’s foe. The candidate you are sponsoring is not a problem to be fixed, but a person to be cherish. Too often, sponsors become frustrated and annoyed because the young person they are mentoring in the faith does not always act in a proper manner or say the correct words when reflecting on his or her own faith beliefs and practices. It’s your job to gently, lovingly, and pastorally raise him or her up to the best they can be without being harsh, abrasive, or judgmental.
- A Candidate’s parent. Hopefully, your candidate already has two loving parents who’s primary role it is to raise their child. The good news is you are not that person. In many cultures, the term godparent is used instead of sponsor. This is exactly who you are called to be, a person who reflects God’s love and life. Whit this role as sponsor, we recommend you partner with the parents of the candidate. Check in with them and communicate how you’ve seen their son or daughter’s life change since beginning the Confirmation process.
As a sponsor, it is vital that you allow yourself the time to grow in your own faith in this process. Being a sponsor is a great gift and perhaps this is God’s gift to you for wherever you are in your faith. This is a great time to begin learning, asking questions, and seeking answers. It is a wonderful opportunity to get to know Christ.
As you ask questions, be sure you get answers from reputable Catholic sources. Great sources are a phone call away at your parish. The priest, deacons, religious brothers and sisters, and youth minister are all there to help you as well as your candidate grow. Ask them questions and make time to meet for answers.
Though modern day each engines (like Google and Wikipedia) and even social media can be great quick references for questions about the Catholic faith, they are sometimes just that: quick, opinionated, and limiting explanations to the thousands of years of tradition, worship, theology, and study that the Church contains. Be cautions when using these sources to find answers to questions.
Finally, this journey won’t be possible without prayer. Here and in the sections below are reflections and Scripture passages to pray through. Take your time with these passages and if it helps you, start a prayer journal or discuss the reflections with your spouse, friend, or roommate.
Read Matthew 14:22-33 (yes, you have to crack open that dusty bible!). This is the narrative of Jesus walking on water and Peter attempting to walk on water as well. Read the Scripture a couple of times, then reflect:
- What stands out to you about this Scripture passage? Did any images come to mind? What words stood out to you as you read?
- What fears do you have as you continue this journey as a sponsor? Are there places you feel like you may drown?
- Jesus set an example that Peter wanted to follow; what example can you set for your candidate that you hope he or she will want to follow?
What do you remember about your reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation? For individuals that were born into the Catholic faith, you may remember the big party where your relatives all got together and gave you gifts. It may have felt a lot like another big event in your life - your graduation from 8th grade or high school. In the past several years, the Sacrament of Confirmation has taken on - to many - the appearance of somehow “graduating” from religious education. Apparently, the ritual, family celebration, and preparation remind many people of a graduation ceremony - maybe it's the gowns...
It is not unreasonable to see why many people have this misunderstanding. We do something similar with the reception of a person’s first Eucharist or the Sacrament of Baptism. Many families choose godparents as a family honor rather than as a model of faith. The reception of the first Eucharist can be overshadowed by the white dresses and clip on bow ties as families get together to celebrate.
But why do we celebrate these things? Why are they so important? When we celebrate something tough, we sometimes forget why we celebrate it in the first place. As you and your candidate continue the journey toward the Sacrament of Confirmation, it is worth brushing on your knowledge of the sacraments and understanding why they are so important to our faith.
Initiated Into The Faith
The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist belong together. They form a unity that the Church calls the “Sacraments of Initiation,” and they serve a very specific purpose: They fully initiate someone into the Catholic faith and life with Christ.
Into the Water
The very first sacrament that any person can receive is the Sacrament of Baptism. It is the “gateway” to the rest of the sacraments (CCC1213). We celebrate Baptism with white gowns, candles, godparents, and immersion in water. These symbols of the Sacrament of Baptism are rich in meaning and convey an incredible reality.
Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Baptism, and after his Resurrection, Jesus commands His apostles to baptize people in the “name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). This is the way that the apostles will make more followers of Christ. It is exactly what they did; in the early Church, many people were baptized and converted - even whole families.
Why was this so important? We need Baptism to erase sin, particularly original sin. At the beginning of the Book of Genesis, we read about Adam and Eve and the relationship they had with God (Genesis 2:7-25). They were created for unity with their Creator but instead turned away from God, preferring sin to God's love. The result is a stain of sin that is transmitted to all of humanity. We are all born with Original Sin, and we all suffer from the effects of sin in our world.
This is why Christ came - to save us from sin and death. Baptism brings us into new life with Christ by erasing the stain of Original Sin (and any other sin if an adult is being baptized). This sin is replaced with something crucial: grace.
Grace is a free gift of God's friendship and a sharing in God's divine life. You can think of the grace we receive at Baptism as a seed. This seed is always with us and nothing can take it away. If we take care of it and nurture it with more grace, that seed will grow into eternal life. Basically, our journey to heaven begins at Baptism.
Signs and symbols we use at the Sacrament of Baptism convey the meaning of the sacrament:
- We are baptized in water as a sign of our death to sin and our new life in Christ. We are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit because we are brought into a deep relationship with the Holy Trinity.
- We put on a white garment to represent our freedom from Original Sin.
- The newly baptized person is anointed with oil. Specifically this oil is called “chrism” and it represents the dignity we have in Christ. Historically, priests, prophets, and kings were anointed with oil as a sign of their office. A person who is anointed is set apart and blessed with a mission.
- The candle is lit to represent the light of Christ we are given in baptism this “light shines in the darkness” and guides us in our journey of life (John 1:5).
- Godparents are chosen to help the baptized person in his or her journey of faith. They represent the whole parish community, which also commits to guiding a newly baptized person.
Baptism begins our sacramental relationship with Christ. It is only given once. Our Baptism receives additional strength in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
The Sacrament of Confirmation
The Sacrament of Confirmation is also given one time and not repeated, just as the Sacrament of Baptism. The sacrament of confirmation seals and perfects the grace that we were given at Baptism and strengthens the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There are seven important gifts of the Holy Spirit (found in Isaiah 11:2):
- Wonder & Awe (also called “Fear of the Lord”)
These gifts help us out the mission of the Church, with which we are also united more deeply within the Sacrament of Confirmation.The mission of the Church is to bring people into a relationship with Jesus Christ. In this way, the Sacrament of Confirmation is a missionary sacrament: it challenges us to go out into our world and to proclaim the Gospel.
If you felt intimidated by that last sentence, put your worry aside. Our perception of what it means to proclaim the Gospel is often very different than what Christ is actually calling us to do. Yes, you may need to have conversations with someone about your faith and invite them into a relationship with Christ, but often our preaching is done in the way we live our lives. The best preaching is done when we "walk the walk".
Think about two people: one of them knows a great deal about his faith and can teach it well, but does not help those in poverty, gossips about others, and is generally an unpleasant person. The other individual makes time to serve the poor, avoids gossip in her speech, and can often be seen praying deeply at Mass. When you encounter her, you feel a sense of joy and peace. Who communicates the message of Christ more effectively?
Our lives speak volumes where our words fail. This is why the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are so important; they allow us to live authentic lives in Christ and demonstrate our faith in ways that causes others to take notice.
The Sacrament of the Eucharist
The Sacrament of the Eucharist is a unique sacrament in a number of ways. First, is the only Sacrament of Initiation that we can receive multiple times and that we are encouraged to receive every single week (and daily if we should choose). We are encouraged to receive the Eucharist frequently beaus it is the “source and summit” of our faith (CCC 1324). Everything in the Church flows toward and flows from he Sacrament of the Eucharist.
The Catholic Church does not believe that the Eucharist is just a symbol for Christ or a nice analogy for Christ’s Body, but that, when a priest consecrates the bread and wine at Mass, it becomes the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The bread and wine undergo a substantial change. This means that while we still see bread and wine, the very substance of the bread and wine is changed into the Body of Christ (CCC 1374).
The Sacrament of the Eucharist nourishes our faith and reminds us that Christ loves us and died for our sins. It empowers us to live as disciples. This is why we receive the Eucharist more than one time in our faith journey any; we need to renew God’s life within us.
The Life of the Church
These sacraments invite us into something larger than ourselves: they unite use more deeply to the Body of Christ, the Church. We are brought into the heavenly family that includes all of the saints that have gone before us, the martyrs that died for the faith, and all of the faithful on earth. It is a big family.
You are going to share a special role in the life of the teenager you are sponsoring in bringing them into the full initiation with the Church through the Sacrament of Confirmation. You stand in the tradition of billions of sponsors that have gone before you. In the midst of that great company, got has called you specifically for this young man or woman. That is an incredible gift and blessing.
If your schedule allows, attend daily Mass at your parish at least one time this week in addition to attending Mass on Sunday. Often these Masses have fewer people attending and are simpler - sometimes without music. If you are unable to a trend daily Mass because of your schedule, spend an hour at a Eucharistic Adoration chapel or at home in a quiet place. Bring a journal along with you and spend some time reflecting on John 13:1-15.
Due to the restrictions of the current pandemic, please consider streaming Mass or Adoration online for this challenge.
Think about your Confirmation candidate and his or her attitude toward receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. Maybe your candidate is excited about being confirmed. He or she is ready to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to be a bold witness of Jesus' unending love and mercy, as soon as they graduate high school, a convent or seminary is their next stop.
Possible, but there is also a chance that the person described above is not the person that asked you to be their sponsor. Instead, your candidate may not fully understand why he or she is getting confirmed, may struggle with doubt in faith or have a lot of questions, and may even be angry with their parents, the Church, and you for having to go through Confirmation classes.
Most likely, though, your candidate is somewhere in the middle of those extremes.
No matter what relationship you currently have or where your candidate is on his or her faith journey, you are in such a great position to lead your candidate into a deeper relationship with Jesus. How exactly do you do that though? You may not have any experience in youth ministry and it may have been years since you graduated high school. Sitting down for coffee or having a phone call/FaceTime with a teenager can be a harrowing experience. But these conversations are crucial and after you get comfortable with each other, you will be surprised at the depth of the chats and of your candidate.
Recognizing the limitations of in-person visits during this time, consider setting up a video chat to connect with your candidate. It may be beneficial to have a couple of "scheduled" calls to get comfortable with one another and feel called to share about your respective faith journeys.
Walking the Road To Emmaus
Jesus gave us a great example in the Gospels on how we bring others close to Him. Jesus invested in people and built relationships, and once those relationships were established, an incredible thing happened: people trusted Jesus and were willing to listen to Him. This is how lives were changed.
Your conversations with your candidate are not simply opportunities to hang out and have fun (thought that definitely can and should be included); every chat is an opportunity to lead your candidate closer to Christ.
At the end of the Gospel of Luke, we are given the Road to Emmaus, an incredible example of what it means to walk with someone in faith. The story takes place several days after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Reflect on what Jesus does to invite the disciples into relationship with Him as you read this summary of the Gospel story.
Two disciples were walking to a town called Emmaus. They didn't know that Jesus was raised from the dead and discussed how sad they were that Jesus was crucified. While they walked, Jesus met them. The disciples didn't recognize Jesus; they believed He was a fellow traveler. They complained about how disappointed they were that Jesus was not the Messiah. Even though they were wrong, Jesus patiently listens. Then Jesus taught. He helped the disciples understand Sacred Scripture as they continued to walk. The disciples became so excited about their new companion that they begged Him to stay longer. They shared a meal and Jesus took bread, broke it, and blessed it - just the way the disciples saw Jesus do before His death. Jesus disappeared and the disciples were left with the Eucharist. The two disciples rushed to tell others about their experience of Christ.
Jesus encounter the disciples along the way, listens to them speak, teaches, and leads them toward the Eucharist - the full presence of Himself.
This model didn't just work for Jesus, it works whenever we want to lead someone closer to Christ. It provides five great steps for walking with your candidate toward the Sacrament of Confirmation - encounter, listen, share, walk, and relationship. Any journey of faith follows the same five steps as the Road to Emmaus.
The first step in the journey is the encounter. Jesus meets the disciples on the road; the disciples didn't find Jesus in a church building or at his house. If you want to build a mentor relationship with a candidate, you need to meet him or her wherever they are.
Sometimes, this means where you physically meet. Meeting at a nice restaurant may seem like a treat, but it may be intimidating to a teen. If you're able to get together, try their favorite coffee shop, fast food place, or mall. When you meet with your teen, meet somewhere public and somewhere they will feel comfortable.
Encountering your candidate also means meeting him or her where she is at spiritually. You may really want your candidate to be a budding theologian that has it all together, but he or she may not be. He or she may not be very good at conversations either - many teenagers are far more comfortable communicating through technology rather than communicating face-to-face. Don't be intimidated by your candidate if he or she is too shy, outgoing, introverted, angsty, or happy - just accept your candidate where he or she is at that moment. It is important to note that this does not mean overlooking sinful or bad habits. Love your candidate enough to meet him or her wherever they are, but love them enough to lead them toward Christ. It isn't a journey if you are standing still.
It can be tempting to want to spend an hour-long meeting with your candidate talking at them and teaching. It may be because you feel you have something important to share (which you do) or simply because you are trying to fill the awkward silence while you wait for lunch. Your candidate has plenty of adults in his or her life that talk at them. You can make a tremendous difference by breaking the mold and simply listing.
This is what Jesus does on the road to Emmaus. He encounters the disciples first and then asks a simple question, "What are you talking about?" This was enough to incite the disciples to spew forth all of their emotions, frustrations, and worries.
The same question may not work for your candidate. Don't worry, though. There are many other questions you can ask to get a conversation started. Your first (or second... or third...) meeting with your candidate may simply be focused on getting to know each other with very superficial questions. Ask about their hobbies, favorite sports teams, how school is going, and how their week has been. Unless you know your candidate well, you may need to keep asking questions to maintain the conversation. Be attentive to non-verbal cues. For example, a person may suddenly become lively and animated when speaking about something they enjoy. If you ask about how school is going and your candidate suddenly becomes sullen and sad, it may be worthwhile to ask a few more questions and see if anything is weighing on them that they would like to share.
Don't expect your candidate to share deep thoughts with you right away; simply listen and be attentive to what they say. Remember their worries about tests and friends and ask about them the next time you meet. Attend sporting events, musicals, or other activities your candidate is involved in to show support. If you feel awkward about going alone, ask to go along with your candidate's parents. Your active support at these events will provide you with new questions and conversation starters next time you meet.
As you listen to your candidate, opportunities will present themselves for you to share, teach, and guide. This may come in the form of questions that the candidate asks you directly or in a moment when you feel you have a place to speak and be heard. If you have a good relationship with the candidate at the beginning of this process, this moment may come more quickly. Don't be afraid to speak about negative behaviors or any questions that teenager may have. As you listen more, you will be able to share more.
One of the first things you may be asked to share is your story. What encounters have you had with God? Why do you love the Church and Jesus? What was your Confirmation process like? What do you remember about your Confirmation Mass or day?
Do not be afraid to share your past struggles and how God has helped you through some difficult moments in life. Your candidate needs to know that you are human and not perfect.
Think about your own faith story; what would you share if your candidate asked? The prayer reflection at the end of this email will help you write down this story and reflect on your own journey with Christ.
Sharing and listening will develop into conversations that become more lively and deep. This is where you can speak truth about our faith, research answers to questions with your candidate, and help guide them on their journey. This is the part of the journey that involves walking.
During this time, engage in activities that aren't simply meeting at a coffeehouse to talk. Go to Mass together, serve at a homeless shelter, or go to a baseball game. Sometimes your candidate will ask questions to which you may not know the answer; schedule a time to research the answer together. Ask what they are learning in Confirmation class, and find out how you can assist your candidate in the process. Walking with your candidate is the on going conversation about faith and the support you offer him or her as you journey toward Christ.
Whatever you decide to do when you meet, make sure to always end with prayer. Ask your candidate what he or she needs prayer for. If you are together, pray with him or her asking the Holy Spirit for guidance in that prayer. If you are not one who is comfortable with spontaneous verbal prayer, start small by praying a few Hail Marys for their intentions.
There is one important note as you walk with your candidate: if your candidate ever shares something with you that involves being hurt or someone else being harmed or in danger, you have a moral obligation to act on this information.
Above all, remember: spending meaningful time together is imperative, whether it is at the parish or a sports events. It's in these encounters that your candidate may experience Christ.
The goal of your time together is not that you and your candidate will form a better relationship. It is very likely that will be one of the effects of your time together and it is a blessed one. If simply developing a relationship with you was the end goal, though, then your period of walking with your candidate has failed. The goal is to help lead your candidate closer to Christ. Keep this in mind as you meet with him or her. Pray for your candidate often, offer support and guidance, and always point them back to Jesus Christ.
Keep in mind, too, that the goal of your relationship with your candidate doesn't end with Confirmation. You will be a life-long role model in the faith for the young person you're sponsoring for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Pray the Rosary with your candidate. During each decade, make it your goal not to mindlessly recite the prayers, but to really reflect on a particular mystery of Christ's life.
As you journey with your candidate, there may be times that he or she shares personal information with you. These can be very blessed moments of depth. Many young people struggle with low self-worth, questions of faith, doubts about their future or friendships. These are parts of growing up. You can speak about those situations and be a great guide for your candidate.
Sometimes your candidate may share something that is not a normal part of growing up. They may share that they are struggling with or experience these things or that they know someone who does. In these situations, you must know that you have a moral responsibility to talk to the appropriate person or authority about the situation - even if the candidate specifically asks you to "keep a secret" or "not tell anyone." His or her safety is your number one concern; if he or she is being harmed, has been harmed, or is in danger of being harmed, you must take action.
Most of the time, the difficulties that teenagers experience will not require any intervention. If, however, they do, remember that you are not a counselor (unless you are professionally trained as one), but a mentor and guide. You may not have the credentials to help a teenager with certain struggles, but you can walk with him or her through those struggles. You can be an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and a voice of encouragement in difficult times. In dark times, your job is to help your candidate get connected with people that can help, if that is necessary, and simply listen and walk with your candidate offering your support, prayers, and encouragement.
It can get boring to constantly meet for coffee. Change up your meeting place and activity with your candidate - there are lots of great ways to get to know your candidate and grow in faith together. If you feel like your one-on-one meetings are getting stale, try a few of the following suggestions:
- Spend time serving others. Check out service opportunities local to you or your candidate. These could be soup kitchens, homeless shelters, places like St. Vincent de Paul, nursing homes, hospitals, etc. Make sure to call the organization first to set up a time for you two to help.
- Go to Mass. If the young person is not going to Mass every weekend, invite them and make it a habit. If both of you already go to Mass every Sunday (not necessarily together), then try to go to a weekday Mass once a week together.
- Go to Reconciliation. Candidates will have the opportunity to go with One8 on 4/3, but why not get some practice in? When you go, you are leading by example. You can then be a support for your candidate.
- Spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. We've spent time at our sessions introducing the candidates to Eucharistic Adoration. Go together. Afterwards, talk about how he or she experienced Christ. Share your own experience.
- Go to lunch, dinner, or coffee. During this time, chat about life, but maybe spend some time reading the upcoming week's readings for Mass. Discuss the readings and what you both are learning. Ask how the Confirmation process is going.
- Take a trip to the mall or bowling alley. But remember to be intentional! Ask yourself "What is the purpose of our time together?" and "How can I draw Christ and His Church into our time together?"
- If you do not live in the same city, state, or even country as your candidate, you can still build and grow a relationship that points toward Jesus. Weekly phone calls can be very beneficial. Texting, emailing, or social media are great tools too, but there's nothing like hearing or seeing the person to build a relationship. Skype and FaceTime can be great tools to accomplish this!
It is appropriate to purchase and give a gift to your candidate on the day of his or her Confirmation. This gift should be something that will help your candidate live his or her faith after the Sacrament. Clothing, electronics, or gift cards all make great Christmas gifts, but generally, we can do better for Confirmation. There are lots of great gifts you can give your candidate - here are a few suggestions
- Find out who their patron saint is and find a religious medal for that saint, a picture of the saint, or a book about the saint
- Crucifix (for the wall or a necklace or ring)
- Rosary beads (and here's a great guide to the Rosary! http://bit.ly/21jYECq )
- Life Teen Catholic Bible http://bit.ly/1QgrTPe
- YouCat: Youth Catechism http://bit.ly/1TBhHC3
- Gifted: Unleashing the Power of Confirmation by Alison Griswold http://bit.ly/1KO8chx
- Truth Be Told: Basics in Catholic Apologetics by Mark Hart http://bit.ly/1LI8Ess
- The Next Step: A Catholic Teen's Guide to Surviving High School by Rachel Allen http://bit.ly/1tCA1dR
- Faith and Reason(s): Confronting Popular Opinion with God's Truth by Joe Cady http://bit.ly/1QAqWgJ
Or just check out the lifeteen.com (http://store.lifeteen.com/store) for more ideas :)
It can be challenging to navigate the vast amount of information that exists online. Any time you type "Catholic information" into a search engine, you must be prepared to receive hundreds of thousands of results - most of which are not Catholic at all. To help you navigate these digital waters, the list below provides several excellent starting points for getting Catholic information online:
- The Vatican: www.vaitcan.va
Here you'll find speeches, talks, homilies, sermons, historical documents, and so much more from the popes and other leaders of the Catholic Church's past and present. Inspiriting papal quotes to the youth from World Youth Days can be found here too!
- The USCCB: www.usccb.org
Each country has a "conference" of Bishops. In the United States, we have the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. This site gives important information about current events, opportunities, catechesis, and so much more on the Church in the US. You'll also find the readings of the day (ones used at Mass) and the New American Bible here.
- Your own local diocese: Each parish belongs to a diocese. Each diocese serves similar to a county. It's a specific region that falls under the direction of the local bishop. Each bishop serves that diocese. Fidn which diocese your parish belongs to. St. Paul Parish belongs to the Diocese of Trenton (www.dioceseoftrenton.org). Learn what's being offered for your community!
- Life Teen: www.lifeteen.com and/or www.catholicyouthministry.com
Both of these websites are used for teens and adult leaders in youth ministry. Here you'll find blogs, teachings, movie reviews, videocasts, and more. These websites are relevant to the issues teens face today along with how the Catholic faith plays a vital role in the midst of the life of a typical teenager.
- Busted Halo: www.bustedhalo.com
This website contains loads of short videos and blogs that cover a range of Church topics and faith applications. Originally intended for young adults, this site has become a premier website for Catholics today.
- Word on Fire: www.wordonfire.org
Bishop Robert Barron's love for theology and short quips on theological teachings are superb. There are even Youtube videos of him and his ministry.
Looking to boost your prayer life? There are several Catholic Apps that can put loads of Catholic prayers and reflections at your fingertips. Some are free, others have a small cost that goes to supporting the mission of the developers. An app on your phone can allow you to easily pray when you are in line at the grocery store, when you wake up in the morning and go to bed at night, or simply while you wait for your lunch. Here are a few suggestions:
- Laudete or iBreviary Daily Mass readings, Liturgy of the Hours, New American Bible, Rosary, and many other Catholic prayers - all easily accessible.
- iMissal A copy of the Roman Missal, includes readings and all of the prayers used during Mass. Does not require Wi-Fi or a cellular network to use.
- Confirmation Names An app that provides information on over 1,000 saints - great for learning more about our faith and/or choosing a Confirmation name.
- Catholic Bible There are several versions; look for one that has been approved with an Imprimatur (this is the approval from a bishop that the material contained in the app is accurate).
- Catholic Bible Study This app includes tools for Bible studies and 100 talks from various Catholic speakers.
- iRosary Features all the Mysteries of the Rosary, walks through how to pray, includes all the prayers used. Also features the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
Sponsor for Confirmation
We are asking Candidates to have chosen their sponsor by January 15. In order to secure a spot as sponsor, two items must be completed:
- Candidate/family must complete the online form found at the bottom of this page.
- If sponsor is *not* registered at St. Paul Parish, sponsor must request/obtain from their home parish a letter of eligibility for sponsorship.
Please note the following:
- Eligibility requirements for sponsors are listed below. Siblings who meet the requirements may serve a a sponsor. Parents may not.
- If a sponsor is not able to attend the Confirmation Celebration for some reason, a proxy sponsor may be chosen. The same requirements of eligibility apply to the person chosen as a proxy. If a proxy is necessary, please contact Kait directly (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Requirements for Sponsors:
According to Canon Laws (cc. 872-874, 893:1), sponsors for the sacrament of Confirmation must be:
- 16 years of age or older
- Fully initiated Catholic (having received Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist)
- Leading a life in conformity with the faith and the role of a sponsor
- Not bound by a canonical penalty (e.g., invalid marriage)
- Not a parent of the one to be confirmed
Additionally the sponsor may be:
- The same as the sponsor (or godparent) for Baptism
- Male or female (i.e., female candidates may have male sponsors; male candidates may have female sponsors)
Confirmation NameHere are some details about the choice of a name for Confirmation.
- May retain baptismal name or choose new name (Diocese of Trenton. Parish Religious Education Administration Manual, Section 507:A. rev. 2012).
- New name must be name of a recognized saint of the Church (Diocese of Trenton. Parish Religious Education Administration Manual, Section 507:A. rev. 2012).
- Newly chosen name does not need to be gender consistent (Diocese of Trenton. Parish Religious Education Administration Manual, Section 507:C. rev. 2012).
Please note: Candidates choose ONE name for Confirmation. For example:
My name is Kaitlyn Christine. When I was confirmed, I took the name Rose. I was confirmed as "Rose" (not "Kaitlyn Rose"). Had I chosen to retain my baptismal name, I would need to specify whether I would use "Kaitlyn" OR "Christine" as my Confirmation name. There is only one Confirmation name. When candidates receive their confirmation certificate, it will have their first name, confirmation name (if different than their first name), and last name.