Many Catholics have the erroneous view that Confirmation is a sort of graduation from Catechetical education. After speaking with David Heimann, Youth Ministry Director, I came to a much greater appreciation for the depth of the Sacrament and how St. Isidore Parish prepares youth for Confirmation. David shared that, as the last of the Sacraments of Initiation, Confirmation is a strengthening of the graces received at Baptism. In order to achieve this strengthening, Confirmation preparation focuses in five areas:
Spiritual Life – One way candidates strengthen their spiritual life is by attending a Confirmation Retreat, typically held in early November at St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein. They are also required to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and attend a mid-year reflection meeting with their sponsor.
Prayer Formation – The teens are exposed to many different types of prayer including the Rosary and prayer with music, so they can discover what form of prayer best appeals to them. Because the Mass is our primary communal prayer, St. Isidore hosts a TEEN MASS on the second Sunday of every month. Candidates are required to participate as a liturgical leader at one of these Masses.
Service Learning – The focus here is not on the number of hours of service, but to understand why Catholics are called to serve others. Service projects are done with the candidate’s Connection Group, their family and as individuals, and allow the teens to learn the value of service and how they can use their unique gifts to serve others.
Community Life – Jesus lived a communal life and as Catholics we are called to do the same. David said that with teens coming from 15 different high schools, it is important to take time to get to know each other. Connect Youth Ministries provides many opportunities for teens to participate in social, service and prayer communities.
As stated in Connect Youth Minstries Confirmation Handbook, “Confirmation is not a requirement to be Catholic.” David added that some youth go through preparation and then decide to postpone receiving Confirmation. The choice to receive the Sacrament should be made by the young Catholic and for this reason, St. Isidore Parish confirms youth in the 9th grade or older as it is believed they are better equipped to make this mature decision.
You can learn more about the comprehensive Confirmation preparation program by downloading the handbook at https://stisidoreparish.org/youth-minstry/confirmation-program/
I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me
Youth Ministry Director, David Heimann, said that many teens become more involved in parish life after being receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. They become ushers, lectors, music minsters and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. David remembers how several years ago, one young woman and her family had not been attending Mass. She shared with her family what she was learning about in Confirmation Preparation and convinced them to start attending weekly Mass. In addition, this young woman saw the need to help with the annual coat drive and ended up leading it for several years.