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There were seventeen Confirmation candidates this year - more than last year, and before receiving the sacrament from Bishop Kieran, they prepared very thoroughly, as Martin Downey explains:
"The preparation that the Confirmation candidates have, runs from October through to May or June (depending on the actual date of the sacrament itself). For the last two years we have been using the Youth CaFE (Catholic Faith Exploration?) programme in the early part of their preparation. This is a similar format to the adult CaFE programme with short video clips and then an opportunity to discuss questions about faith and the issues raised in the films. In addition to the Youth CaFE we have sessions looking at the sacraments, vocations, the seasons of Advent and Lent and a particular focus on the sacrament of Confirmation. We also try and give the young people the opportunity to experience different ways of prayer and worship.
The weekend away at Lodge Hill is a chance for them to have a more in-depth look at their faith and what it means to them and to extend the exploration of how they can express this.
The craft work and dressing up were their response to an exercise we gave them to show what the Holy Spirit means to them. They had time for normal recreation!
We split them into groups for many of the exercises and these groups took it in turns over the weekend to lead the whole group in prayer sessions. We also made a particular focus on forgiveness and reconciliation and got them to dramatise Gospel passages around this but in a modern context. This culminated in a 'Sense Journey' exercise that got them to explore the physical ways of how we can experience God. There was also the opportunity to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation if they wanted to.
For a bit of healthy exercise we later took them on a rather muddy walk along the banks of the River Arun!
On the day of the sacrament one member, who was confirmed, was not present for this photograph.
One member received a special Papal blessing which he showed to Bishop Kieran and Father Kieron.
The 17 who were confirmed were an increase on last year, but there is no clear trend. One year we can have 18 or 20 but the next it may only be 10 or 12. There is no explanation for this but it could be something to do with how well that particular cohort have kept in touch with each other. We usually write to all those that we have on the parish records in that age group inviting them to put themselves forward if they feel they are ready to be confirmed, but we try and make sure they are already active in expressing their faith.