As I sit to write this article, the feast of Pentecost is just around the corner. And as we take time to reflect on the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles it seems an appropriate time to offer an update on the sacrament of Confirmation.
As you may remember, the preparation for Confirmation had to be curtailed last year, for obvious reasons. We were just about to start and then … well, we all know what happened. In Lent this year Archbishop Malcolm McMahon asked that the period of Confirmation preparation be resumed after Easter, with hopes that he and his fellow bishops would be able to visit deaneries in the new academic year and confirm young people between October and December.
Thus, the Confirmation equivalent of the Bat-signal was sent out, with the co-ordinators for the deaneries meeting up before Easter to remind ourselves of where we all are and what we now need to start doing. As I have mentioned before, the team here at Animate had spent some of the last few months producing video resources (on our YouTube channel) which include four films acting as invitations to young people to receive the sacrament. These could be watched in schools, or at home.
The Archbishop himself wrote a letter to Year 8 pupils asking them to consider registering for Confirmation this year. Alongside that were the lessons they received in their RE classes on the sacrament.
That more or less brings us up to where we are now. As I write this, there are over 750 youngsters registered for preparation this year, a larger number than I was expecting, I must confess. I did think that with all the other issues at play in the lives of young people at this time then we might have fewer numbers sign up. But then I suppose with all those issues a reminder of the enduring presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the world is perhaps exactly what is needed.
Registrations for this year will close on 26 June so I hope we might break the 1,000 barrier in the next month. If you know of anyone in Year 8 or 9 who would like to be confirmed, please ask them to register at www.liverpoolcalled.co.uk and their local co-ordinator will contact them soon with more details of the plans for their area.
After registrations close in June, some deaneries are hoping to have face-to-face preparatory meetings before the summer break, whereas others will wait until September. Either way, there will be some preparation time in local deaneries with the sacrament being celebrated towards the end of the year.
After a difficult year for young people the promise of receiving the Sacrament in the not-too-distant future must surely be a sign of hope for them, and for all of us in the Church.
Certainly, this last month or so as I have seen the numbers registered on the database increase every day and it has been a reminder to me that, though we have all had a difficult time in so many different ways over the last 12 months, the Lord does not leave His people. Even in moments of darkness, and perhaps even more so in moments of darkness, there is a call within our hearts to reach out to God. And it seems that call is being heard more than I was expecting in the hearts of those youngsters in Year 8 in our Archdiocese.
Please pray for them as they take this next step in their faith journey.