May 6 Confirmation Ceremony

We are now in the home stretch, with less than a week until Confirmation day at Ascension Parish! We have an excellent group of Conformandi that will receive the Sacrament on May 6. Please utilize this post to help with loose ends and questions that you may have.

PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS AND DISCLAIMER
The unfortunate trade off of being Confirmed during the pandemic is the heightened restrictions and adjustments to the ceremony. In comparison to Confirmation events that you may have attended in the past, the May 6 ceremony will be restricted to smaller levels of guests and shorter runtimes for safety. Additionally, the continued uncertainty of the pandemic may have some families rethinking their Confirmation plans. The parish will have additional ceremonies available down the road if families would prefer to wait. We are hopeful for a time when candidates are not limited to a certain number of guests and when there are less risks involved with travel and contact. If families wish to wait until that time for Confirmation, we understand and look forward to celebrating with you then. In this current time, however, we will continue to prioritize safety and uphold the Archdiocesan ceremony policies.

Outstanding Action Items

If you have been contacted by parish staff regarding outstanding Confirmation paperwork, please be sure to submit it as soon as you can. This information is necessary for the Confirmation to take place.

Arrival Time, Ceremony Length, Seating

The church will be opened approximately 15-20 minutes prior to the posted start time of the ceremony. At this time, please begin to enter the church. Weather permitting, please attempt to wait for everyone sitting in your party before entering the church. This will make the seating process more efficient. 

To safely implement social distancing protocols, all seating will be assigned. Candidates are asked to sit closest to the center aisle of the the church. A seating chart has been emailed to candidates and their families ahead of time.

The ceremony will last approximately 40 minutes after the posted start time. Please remember to factor time for post-ceremony photos into your planning.

Anointing with Oils and Responses, Rehearsal Alternative

Since we are not able to have a rehearsal session. Please use this information as a refresher:

During the ceremony, the candidates will be prompted to stand for an anointing and blessing. The candidates and Father Souza will have the following dialogue during the anointing, please note the responses (candidate’s will have a card with this information on it as well):

FATHER SOUZA: (your confirmation name), be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
CANDIDATE: Amen!
FATHER SOUZA: Peace be with you.
CANDIDATE: And with your spirit!

The anointing process will be mindful of social distancing and pandemic safety.

Sponsor Roles and Proxy Sponsors

Sponsors are not required to be present for the ceremony. If a candidate’s sponsor is unable to attend the ceremony, they can still be the candidate’s sponsor. A proxy will be available at the ceremony to stand in for the sponsor but the sponsor on the candidate’s paperwork will still be their official sponsor. A parent or relative can stand-in as the teen’s proxy sponsor. The Archdiocesan allowance of the use of proxy-sponsors is aimed at reducing unecessary travel and reducing COVID-19 risks. Utilizing the flexibility of sponsors in the ceremony, please do not risk breaking travel protocols. It is not necessary to notify the parish that you’ll be using a proxy-sponsor ahead of time.  Sponsors are not required to submit any additional paperwork for the Confirmation ceremony.

Confession

It is customary to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available at St. Bridget (Maynard) on Saturday May 1 from 2:30 PM to 3:15 PM. Candidates are also welcome to seek Confession at other locations. The Mass Times website is a helpful tool for finding Confession locations at other locations.

Guest Registration

After reserving a spot at a Confirmation ceremony, you will receive a notification email at the submitted email address with a link to a form you can use to submit the names of your guests for reservation and contact tracing purposes. Each Confirmation candidate will be limited to seven guests (their sponsor and six other guests). If you have not yet registered your guests, you can click here to do so. You will receive a notification email after submitting.

Postponed Candidates from May 2020 and November 2020

For candidates who were scheduled to be Confirmed this past May and November, there should be no additional paperwork needed on your end. Parish staff will be reaching out to you over the next week if there are any loose ends.

Ceremony Live-Streaming

The Confirmation ceremony at Our Lady of Fatima will be live-streamed on the parish website for those who wish to tune in. The ceremony will go live approximately 5 minutes before ceremony start time at http://theascensionparish.com and https://www.facebook.com/TheAscensionParish.

Confirmation Attire, Weather Conditions

Please note, there are no particular colors that must be worn in the ceremony. A white or red outfit is not required for Confirmation. The only part of dress code required is a mask or facial covering. Additionally, be mindful that some windows may be open during the ceremony, due to the pandemic, for proper air circulation. Please dress accordingly.

Ceremony Lector/Readers

Any candidates interested in being a lector and reading during their Confirmation ceremony should contact JT at jguiod@theascensionparish.com.

November 28 Confirmation Ceremonies

We are now in the home stretch, with less than a week until Confirmation day at St. Bridget and Our Lady of Fatima! We have over 100 Conformandi that will receive the Sacrament on November 28. Please utilize this post to help with loose ends and questions that you may have.

PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS AND DISCLAIMER
The unfortunate trade off of being Confirmed during the pandemic is the heightened restrictions and adjustments to the ceremony. In comparison to Confirmation events that you may have attended in the past, the November 28 ceremonies will be restricted to smaller levels of guests and shorter runtimes for safety. Additionally, shifting levels of COVID-19 infections being reported across the country may have some families rethinking their Confirmation plans. The parish will have additional ceremonies available down the road if families would prefer to wait. We are hopeful for a time when candidates are not limited to a certain number of guests and when there are less risks involved with travel and contact. If families wish to wait until that time for Confirmation, we understand and look forward to celebrating with you then. In this current time, however, we will continue to prioritize safety and uphold the Archdiocesan ceremony policies. We will not be able to allow Confirmation candidates to bring additional guests other than their three guests (including their sponsor) which they registered ahead of time.   

COVID-19 Recommendations Compliance

The parish will be following the safety guidelines of the CDC and the Archdiocese. This includes the ceremonies being socially distant, using registration to limit group sizes, and collecting contacts for contact tracing. Even with such practices, the parish will not have a way to verify if guests were compliant with such recommendations leading up to, or during, Thanksgiving. We ask in your celebrations and travels, you take the upcoming Confirmation ceremony into mind. There will be other Confirmation ceremonies available later on if your plans don’t fully align with the post-Thanksgiving ceremonies. It is the intention of the parish to have more ceremonies available, particularly in the spring/summer. We will hopefully be in a post-pandemic world by then but will have the flexibility of perhaps having outdoor ceremonies with room for more guests and movement if we are still limited by social distancing.

Arrival Time, Ceremony Length

The church will be opened approximately 15-20 minutes prior to the posted start time of the ceremony. At this time, please begin to enter the church. Weather permitting, please attempt to wait for everyone sitting in your party before entering the church. This will make the seating process more efficient. 

To safely implement social distancing protocols, all seating will be assigned. Upon entering the church candidates and their guests will be guided to their assigned seats. Candidates are asked to sit closest to the center aisle of the the church.

The ceremony will last approximately 40 minutes after the posted start time. Please remember to factor time for post-ceremony photos into your planning. The church will not be open after the ceremony and all attendees are asked to utilize the church’s outdoor spaces for post-ceremony prayer and photos. Unfortunately, the Bishop will not be able to be a part of post-ceremony photos. 

Anointing with Oils and Responses, Rehearsal Alternative

Since we are not able to have a rehearsal session. Please use this information as a refresher:

During the ceremony, the candidates will be prompted to move forward to the altar for an anointing and blessing. The candidate’s sponsors will remain in the pew and will not go forward to the altar with the candidates. The candidates and Bishop Reed will have the following dialogue during the anointing, please note the responses (candidate’s will have a card with this information on it as well):

BISHOP REED: (your confirmation name), be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
CANDIDATE: Amen!
BISHOP REED: Peace be with you.
CANDIDATE: And with your spirit!

The anointing process will be mindful of social distancing and pandemic safety.

Sponsor Roles and Proxy Sponsors

To minimize movement and contact in the ceremony the candidate’s sponsors will not go with them to the altar for their Confirmation blessing. Sponsors are not required to be present for the ceremony. If a teen’s sponsor is unable to attend the ceremony, they can still be the teen’s sponsor. A proxy will be available at the ceremony to stand in for the sponsor but the sponsor on the teen’s paperwork will still be their official sponsor. A parent or relative can stand-in as the teen’s proxy sponsor. The Archdiocesan allowance of the use of proxy-sponsors is aimed at reducing unecessary travel and reducing COVID-19 risks. Utilizing the flexibility of sponsors in the ceremony, please do not risk breaking travel protocols. It is not necessary to notify the parish that you’ll be using a proxy-sponsor ahead of time.  Sponsors are not required to submit any additional paperwork for the Confirmation ceremony.

Guest Registration

After reserving a spot at a Confirmation ceremony, you will receive a notification email at the submitted email address with a link to a form you can use to submit the names of your guests for reservation and contact tracing purposes. In accordance with Archdiocesan safety guidelines, each Confirmation candidate will be limited to three guests (their sponsor and two other guests). If you have not yet registered your guests, you can use the following links to submit the names of your guests. For St. Bridget Confirmation candidates, click here. For Our Lady of Fatima, Confirmation candidates, click here. You will receive a notification email after submitting.

Postponed Candidates from May 2020

For candidates who were scheduled to be Confirmed this past May, there should be no additional paperwork needed on your end. Parish staff will be reaching out to you over the next week if there are any loose ends.

Action Items and Paperwork for Current Students

In addition to reserving a spot for Confirmation, currently enrolled candidates (typically grade 10 students) have a few action items which must be completed. These are the submission of previous sacrament details, selection of a sponsor, and selection of a Confirmation name. Candidates who have not done so may complete these action items electronically using the grade 10 action item links at https://lifeteenfatima.com/actionitems/. After submission, the email address used will receive a notification email. Please note, writing your Conformation name and sponsor name into one of your modules instead of filling out the forms means that that you have not yet submitted the forms. Some candidates at St. Bridget may have submitted these items on a paper form instead of electronically. Parish staff will be reaching out over the next week to candidates that are missing these items. 

Confirmation Check-In Meetings

If you were not able to schedule a Confirmation check-in meeting with JT due to timing, please thoroughly review the other information on this post. The check-in meetings are generally the time for candidates to have their paperwork reviewed and be given the “all clear” for being on track for Confirmation. This year’s meetings also included discussions of program changes due to the pandemic. This included that the current 10th grade students would not be having a Confirmation project this year.

Ceremony Live-Streaming

The Confirmation ceremonies at Our Lady of Fatima will be livestreamed on the parish website for those who wish to tune in. Unfortunately, at this time, we do not have the technology for live-streaming at St. Bridget. 

Confirmation Attire & Weather Conditions

Please note, there are no particular colors that must be worn in the ceremony. A white or red outfit is not required for Confirmation. The only part of dress code required is a mask or facial covering. Additionally, be mindful that some windows may be open during the ceremony, due to the pandemic, for proper air circulation. Please dress accordingly.

Ceremony Lector/Reader

Any candidates interested in being a lector and reading during their Confirmation ceremony should contact JT at jt@fatimasudbury.org.

Grade 10 Confirmation Program – Fall 2020

Registration

If you are not yet enrolled for the 2020-2021 faith formation program, please utilize the online Faith Formation Registration Form or call the parish directly at (978) 443-2647.


Online Fall Semester

While Life Teen is typically an in-person, on-site experience, the 2020-2021 Confirmation program has been modified in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The entire fall 2020 curriculum will be conducted remotely. Instead of meeting through the parish’s Life Teen Life Nights, online materials will be regularly, and readily, available. The online modules will utilize the parish message series, Confirmation curriculum, and materials adapted from the previously-scheduled in-person Life Nights. The online modules will typically contain multimedia materials to learn from and include a written/discussion component to be submitted by the Confirmation student. As we progress through the semester, we will adjust and plan the spring semester accordingly.


Confirmation Ceremony Dates

Most 10th grade Confirmation students were initially scheduled to be Confirmed on November 28, 2020. We still anticipate that these students will be confirmed around that time but expect that multiple ceremonies will be needed to incorporate social distancing and other safety measures. After coordinating with the Archdiocese of Boston, we will have more information on ceremony dates and guest attendance procedures. 


Fall 2020 Program Overview and Action Items (Grade 10)

Students who entered the program in fall 2019 are preparing to be Confirmed in the fall of 2020. Please review the program overview and action items below.

1. Parent/Guardian must fill out the Sacraments Checklist for Candidate
In order to be Confirmed, a candidate’s previous Sacraments of Baptism and First Holy Communion must be verified. Submitting this information as soon as possible prevents any last-minute hurdles leading up to Confirmation. This form must be completed by October 2, 2020.

2. Candidate must select a Sponsor
Each confirmation candidate much choose a sponsor for their Confirmation. The sponsor must be a Confirmed Catholic, in good standing with the Church, and cannot be the candidate’s parent. A sponsor must be selected, and this form must be completed, by October 2, 2020. Be sure to review the “Role of Sponsor” guide during your selection process.

3. Candidate must select a Confirmation Name
Each Candidate must select a Confirmation Name. This name must be the name of a Saint in the Church. This step must be completed by October 30, 2020.

4.Grade 10 candidates should achieve at least 4 credit points by by November 28, 2020.
All Confirmation-related events are assigned a value of credit points. All Confirmation candidates for November 2020 should achieve at least 4 confirmation points within the Fall semester by November 28, 2020 to be on track for Confirmation.


Fall 2020 Online Module Schedule (Grade10)

To be on track for Confirmation, all tenth grade students should achieve at least 4 credit points by November 28, 2020.

DateEventCredit Points
Sunday, September 13, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, September 20, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, September 27, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, October 4, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, October 18, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, October 25, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, November 1, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, November 8, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, November 22, 2020Online Materials Posted1

Life Teen Fatima has event opportunities outside of the Confirmation program. Parish staff are working to make events available that have social distancing and other safety measures. Be sure to check out our Events Calendar for all of the current Life Teen happenings!


Additional Information

Be sure to visit the Confirmation Program Overview Page for more information and some program FAQ.

Grade 9 Confirmation Program – Fall 2020

Registration

If you are not yet enrolled for the 2020-2021 faith formation program, please utilize the online Faith Formation Registration Form or call the parish directly at (978) 443-2647.


Online Fall Semester

While Life Teen is typically an in-person, on-site experience, the 2020-2021 Confirmation program has been modified in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The entire fall 2020 curriculum will be conducted remotely. Instead of meeting through the parish’s Life Teen Life Nights, online materials will be regularly, and readily, available. The online modules will utilize the parish message series, Confirmation curriculum, and materials adapted from the previously-scheduled in-person Life Nights. The online modules will typically contain multimedia materials to learn from and include a written/discussion component to be submitted by the Confirmation student. As we progress through the semester, we will adjust and plan the spring semester accordingly.


Fall 2020 Program Overview and Action Items (Grade 9)

Students entering the program in fall 2020 will be Confirmed in the fall of 2021. Please review the program overview and action items below.

1. Entering Students must fill out the New Student Information Form
The form helps us learn more about our incoming students and better serve them. Please fill this form out as soon as possible.

2. Schedule a Spring 2021 Confirmation check-in with JT
In these check-ins, JT and the candidate will a develop a Confirmation service project to complete over the next two years. If any of the available times do not work, please don’t hesitate to contact JT to schedule a more convenient option. Some meetings slots are for in-person sessions and some slots are for video chat sessions.

3. Grade 9 students should achieve at least 6 credit points by December 13, 2020  and an additional 6 credit points by May 8, 2021 
All Confirmation-related online materials and events are assigned a value of credit points. All Confirmation candidates for November 2021 should achieve at least 6 credit points within the Fall semester by December 13, 2020 and an additional 6 credit points in the Spring semester by May 8, 2021 to be on track for Confirmation.

4. Grade 9 Students must attend a Confirmation Day-Retreat at the end of the academic year
At the end of the spring semester, the class will have a required day-retreat.


Fall 2020 Online Module Schedule (Grade 9)

To be on track for Confirmation, all ninth grade students should achieve at least 6 credit points by December 13, 2020.

DateEventCredit Points
Sunday, September 13, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, September 20, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, September 27, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, October 4, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, October 18, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, October 25, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, November 1, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, November 8, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, November 22, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, December 6, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, December 13, 2020Online Materials Posted1

Life Teen Fatima has event opportunities outside of the Confirmation program. Parish staff are working to make events available that have social distancing and other safety measures. Be sure to check out our Events Calendar for all of the current Life Teen happenings!


Additional Information

Be sure to visit the Confirmation Program Overview Page for more information, a preview of the Grade 10 Confirmation Program, and some program FAQ.

Postponed Spring 2020 Confirmation Update

Remaining Students from Spring 2020

There are still some Confirmation candidates from St. Bridget and Our Lady of Fatima that were originally scheduled to be Confirmed in May 2020 and have not done so.

Both parishes will be holding Confirmation ceremonies on Saturday, November 28, 2020. All candidates are encouraged to learn more and register consider at https://lifeteenfatima.com/confirmationfall2020/.

If the fall timing does not meet where your family is at in these very uncertain times, it is very understandable. More opportunities for Confirmation will be available down the road. 


Confirmation Day at St. Anselm, St. Bridget, and Our Lady of Fatima

Confirmation day is finally here! Congratulations to all of our candidates! The drop-downs below have some helpful Confirmation day reminders.

Arrival Time, Ceremony Length

The church will be opened 20 minutes prior to the posted start time of the ceremony. At this time please begin to enter the church. Weather permitting, please attempt to wait for everyone sitting in your pew before entering the church. This will make the seating process more efficient. Guests should note the name of the Confirmation candidate they are sharing a pew with while being seated. 

The ceremony should last approximately 1 hour after the posted start time. Please remember to factor time for post-ceremony photos into your planing. The church will not be open after the ceremony and all attendees are asked to utilize the the church’s outdoor spaces for post-ceremony prayer and photos.

Seating Assignments

To safely implement social distancing protocols, all seating will be assigned. Seating assignments are determined by group size, flow of ceremony, and timing of reservation. Upon entering the Church you will be guided to your assigned pew. Confirmation Candidates are asked to sit closest to the center aisle of the the church. The candidate’s sponsor (or proxy standing in for the sponsor should sit next to the Confirmation candidate).

Anointing with Oils and Responses

Since we were not able to have a rehearsal session. Please use this information as a refresher:

During the ceremony, Father Souza, will come to each candidate’s pew for an anointing and blessing. When it is your turn, please step in the center aisle with your sponsor or stand-in. Your sponsor or stand-in will display your Confirmation name to Father Souza. You and Father Souza will have the following dialogue during the anointing, please note your responses:

FATHER SOUZA: (your confirmation name), be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
YOU: Amen!
FATHER SOUZA: Peace be with you.
YOU: And with your spirit!

The anointing process will be mindful of social distancing and pandemic safety.

Sponsors and Stand-Ins

Just a reminder that sponsors are not required to be present for the ceremony. If a teen’s sponsor is unable to attend the ceremony, they can still be the teen’s sponsor. A proxy will be available at the ceremony to stand in for the sponsor but the sponsor on the teen’s paperwork will still be their official sponsor. A parent or relative can stand-in as the teen’s proxy sponsor.    

Photos

A church photographer will be present to capture memories during the ceremony, this includes the anointing and blessing of each candidate. Weather permitting, there will also be opportunities for for post-ceremony photos with the church photographer outside as well.

Weather Conditions

Please remember that due to the pandemic, the church will not be able to run any air conditioning during the ceremony. This is to prevent the recirculation of air between guests. Church windows will be opened. Please dress accordingly to the weather conditions.

Thank you so much to our candidates and all of their supporters! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any additional questions or concerns. We are looking forward to seeing you at Confirmation!

Saint Anselm, Saint Bridget, and Our Lady of Fatima May 2020 Confirmation Update

We are very pleased to provide you with some updates for the Confirmations from May 2020 that were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the Archdiocese of Boston has given us clearance to move ahead with Confirmation ceremonies that have social distancing parameters in place. In June, we will have four opportunities for Conformandi to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation between ceremonies at Saint Anselm, Saint Bridget, and Our Lady of Fatima. It remains our top priority that our Confirmation candidates are able to receive the Sacrament in a way that is both very safe and very impactful. If the ceremony dates listed do not meet where your family is at in these very uncertain times, it is very understandable. More opportunities for Confirmation will be available down the road as we move into the Fall. Receiving Confirmation in June is a choice and we remain supportive of anyone choosing to wait until later for Confirmation.

Ceremony: These events will be a bit different than the traditional Confirmation Masses. The Sacrament will be conferred by Fr. Souza and will not include a Mass. All attendees should arrive 15-20 minutes prior to the posted start time to allow for efficient seating. The ceremony will be approximately one hour.

Dates Location & Sign Up: There are four ceremonies available (one at Saint Anselm, one at St. Bridget, and two at Our Lady of Fatima). Candidates are encouraged to sign up for whichever ceremony/location they prefer. Each Candidate signed up will have an entire pew reserved for their families/guests. The maximum capacity of seating will vary based on the location of the ceremony. Pews at St. Anselm have a larger seating capacity. While each Candidate’s pew will be appropriately socially distanced from one another, seating within the pew will be at the discretion of Candidate’s attendees. If your attendees require extra socially distant spacing, please be mindful that you will not be able to fill the pew to its maximum capacity.


The ceremony dates/locations available are:

To sign up for one of these ceremonies, please click here.

Prep: There will be no rehearsal sessions for these ceremonies. Directions for the ceremony will be made available for attendees as we move closer to the ceremony dates.  

Sponsors: Due to the special circumstances, the attendance of sponsors is optional. The chosen, and approved, sponsors selected by each Candidate will still be their official sponsor but a proxy-sponsor will be available to stand-in for sponsors not in attendance. 

Confession: It is customary to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation
before receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available specifically for Confirmation candidates on multiple dates across multiple locations. Candidates are welcome to attend any session which they prefer, reservations will not be needed.

Attire: Dress attire is expected for the Confirmation ceremony. For the guys, this would be dress pants and a shirt and tie. Suit jackets and blazers are not necessary. For the ladies, dress length should at least correlate with arm length, not being shorter than the candidate’s hands when at their sides. Please note, there are no particular colors that must be worn. A white or red outfit is not required for confirmation.

Rosetta Stone (Teaching Materials)

The following materials are from the “Rosetta Stone” Life Teen Life Night guide.

Sometimes when we hear about our universal vocation—the call to holiness—it sounds to us like an unknown language. Although the phrase “universal call to holiness” is in a language we know and understand, the whole concept may still seem foreign. even after this semester on vocations, you may still be asking yourself what it means to live out a call to holiness. 

One thing that is wonderful about the Church is that it can take things that seem foreign and make them familiar. Being holy can seem like something really foreign or difficult; it seems like something that is going to take up a bunch of our time. But being holy isn’t about checking off tasks on a Catholic to-do list; being holy is something that should be the foundation of everything we do. You can be holy when you are doing schoolwork, are out with your friends, playing sports or music, or spending time with your family. 

Another way to think of this vocational foundation is to remember that our call to holiness is also a call is to love. We are called to love God and to love our neighbor. This is why holiness can be a part of everything we do; if we are really loving God and those people around us we are going to be moved to act. 

Whether it is our love for our parents, our boyfriend/girlfriend, or God – love moves us into action. You don’t fall for someone and then nothing else happens. In a similar fashion, our love of God pushes us to know God and live his commands. 

St. Augustine talks about the relationship between knowing and loving God in his Confessions. He asks, “Who can call on you that does not know you?” We know God so that we can love God. God loves us unconditionally – that’s one of the most basic parts of our faith. But we are called to love back: to use that knowledge of God, who He is, and what He’s done for us to deepen our love for Him. Although knowing God may make us live in ‘awe’ or ‘respect’ of God, love is what makes us give ourselves in service. It is what helps us follow the commands of God and ultimately follow His will. This desire to serve God will spill over into the relationships with those around us. In order to see how, we only need to look at our greatest example – Jesus. 

Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man, and He was able to show us what this loving discipleship looks like. He brought all around Him to God by sharing the love that he had with the father. Not only that, He demonstrated that love through service and humility. Christ, before He died, washed the disciples’ feet. He literally got down as low as He could to clean the feet of those who followed Him. 

God is always giving us opportunities to draw closer to Him – to answer the call to holiness. The sacraments are the chief ways to grow our relationship to Him. We gain tremendous grace through the eucharist, and Reconciliation eliminates those stumbling blocks that keep us from Him. even our most basic prayer, the ‘Our father,’ asks God to ‘forgive us our trespasses’ and ‘give us this day our daily bread.” Those are the two steps we can – and should – take every day to answer our call to holiness. 

As we imitate Christ, we are able take on the spirit of self-gift. That giving of self starts with giving our lives to God, trusting in His care and His plan. A spirit of gift quickly grows, though, to embrace the Christ that we see in our brothers and sisters on earth. 

No Solo

Our faith is not designed to be lived out in a vacuum. All of humanity is called into the family of the Church – everyone is invited into the Catholic family. God made, knows, and loves all people; no one is designed to live outside the Kingdom. every person has a unique way that they live out their universal call to holiness. This is our primary vocation. every one of these vocations is important in the life of the Church; it is necessary for your continued journey to heaven. God has given you special graces for your vocation that other people do not have. In the same way, there are graces God has given to other people for their vocation that you do not have. This variety is good within the Church; if everyone went out into the desert to live a consecrated life, who would spread the Gospel in the secular world? If everyone was married, we would not have people who gave themselves entirely to service, and we would not have a priesthood to bring us the sacraments. Every role is necessary. 

At the heart of vocation, though, is the call to love God and all people. Our families, our siblings, our coworkers, classmates, and romantic interests…loving them can be an investment. We also have to love those other people in whom it is hard to see Christ, hard to love. It requires giving of ourselves to love them. Love, at its heart, is sacrificial; it means, “You’re so important to me that I’m willing to put you before myself.” When we tap into that, we tap into the heart of our universal vocation. 

Love One Another

God’s commandment to us is simple – He says in the Gospel of John, “Love one another as I have loved you.” If you needed any one instruction to explain how to answer the call to holiness, that would be it. God loves us by pouring grace and peace on us, but also by calling us away from sin and welcoming us back into the Kingdom after we fall. He gives everything for us – even dying on the Cross – and is faithful to us when we ask for him. He invites every person into His family, no matter how perfect or broken, rich or poor, popular or hated they are. 

That is the love we’re called to imitate in our call to holiness. Not perfectly, not without fault or failure, but it is what we are called to try to do. The more we strive to love God and love our neighbor, the holier we will find ourselves becoming. Love creates more love; the grace of drawing close to God gives us the strength to love in even more difficult or hard situations.

Vocation Today

We have talked a lot about vocation these past few months. Although you can be sure of your universal vocation, you probably still have questions about your specific vocation. There’s nothing wrong with that; you have time to discern where God is calling you. Nevertheless, do not put discernment off. If you feel a very strong call to the religious life, talk to our diocesan vocations director. If you feel a call to marriage, make sure your relationships are holy and Christ-centered so that you can discern with a clear mind and conscience. No matter what your vocation is, the way to live it right now is to grow in holiness and to listen to God. Get a spiritual director, start journaling about what God tells you about vocation, and dedicate yourself to prayer. make mass on Sunday a priority, regardless of how busy your week is. If possible, try to even get to mass daily. 

As you discern your future vocation, remember this – you have a vocation right now: to be a witness of God’s love to the people you see every day. do not get so focused on the future that you aren’t able to live out your call right now. Be holy, be His, and be the light that shines in the darkness. You never know who might see your witness and get inspired to start living their vocation. 

The Bridegroom Says Come (Teaching Materials)

The following materials are from the “The Bridegroom Says Come” Life Teen Life Night guide.

So Many Options!

Like we have talked about this semester, in our semester on vocations, all of us have a universal call to holiness. We also all have a primary vocation – a state of life that we are called to move into as we walk towards God. For some of us, that vocation is marriage, for some men it will be priesthood or the diaconate, but there’s another vocation that sometimes gets overlooked. That vocation is the call to consecrated life.

What is the consecrated life? It can sound kind of dramatic or foreign – consecrated? We can start by defining the word consecrated. Think about where you have heard that word before. Some of you may have thought of the Mass, and you would be correct. The priest consecrates the bread and wine; the Eucharist is a consecrated host. Something that is consecrated is set apart and dedicated to God.

That’s what the consecrated life is all about. People in this vocation offer up their lives and dedicate them to God – and He transforms their lives into something beautiful and spectacular. The Church describes those in the consecrated life as people who, “while not entering into the hierarchical structure of the Church, belong undeniably to her life and holiness.” That means that although they are not part of the Church ‘structure’ (like bishops, priests, and deacons are), they are an important and integral part of the Church and its mission.

There are many ways that a person can live out a vocation to the consecrated life. Many people in this vocation live a ‘monastic’ lifestyle – they separate themselves from society and spend their lives in prayer.

Why would they do this? Our world can be a very noisy place, and thus, it can become difficult to hear the voice of God. These men and women have a calling to develop a special relationship with the Father through Christ. It is like the game we began with. If the two people who were drawing had continued to spend time together they would have gotten to know how the other person speaks and interacts so well that eventually the pictures could have been nearly identical. In the same way, people in the consecrated life draw close to God in order to hear His voice, and then communicate it back to the Church. For this reason, many of the greatest spiritual writers of the Church lived a consecrated life separated from the world.

There are different forms of consecrated life that all interact with the world in varying ways. Some groups are very active, and others are contemplative and choose to step out of the world to focus primarily on prayer.

The most removed group is hermits, who practice extreme solitude, silence, and penance. They are living examples of the being set apart for Christ and the power of prayer; they are prayer warriors of the church. Many times in Church history, God called people into the desert; for thousands of years, the desert has been where prayer warriors are found. Today, there are men and women in communities that live this separated life.

Another form of consecrated life, not quite as separate from the world as hermits, are consecrated virgins and widows. When a woman or man decides to become “committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely,” they go before the bishop and are consecrated to God. They give their entire lives to God and they participate in a ‘mystical betrothal’ to Jesus Christ – they literally marry Him and give themselves to His service. They become an image of the Church – the Bride of Christ.
The form of consecrated life that you are most likely to recognize is religious life. That’s where we find brothers, sisters, and nuns who live the Apostolic religious life. The religious life is set apart because of its “liturgical character, public profession of the evangelical counsels, fraternal life led in common, and witness given to the union of Christ with the Church.” So what does it mean? Well, religious communities have a common rule of life – they all agree to live, pray, and act according to a set of rules. They also share a common dress – their official ‘uniform.’

Religious life is an important part of the Church, because it gives people who want to dedicate themselves to prayer and service a stable place to do that. They live simply, but by being in a religious community they can spend their lives serving the poor and still be provided for. They serve under the bishops to help with all sorts of things – in hospitals and schools, as missionaries and teachers, even working in administration within the Church. Those in religious life can range from living as hermits to mingling with lay people. A sister or nun may live in a cloister where she never has contact with the outside world (imagine that!), or she may work in a school where she teaches students every day.

Living the Narrow Path
People who wish to enter the consecrated life take vows, much like a priest or couple being married makes promises to serve in their vocation.

Anyone who ‘consecrates’ his or herself to God does it the same way: by professing a lifelong commitment to the three Evangelical Counsels. What are those? They are poverty, obedience, and chastity in celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom.

Persons living the consecrated life are called to poverty. That may mean that their community has possessions that everyone may use in common or even individually, but individual members don’t really own anything. Different degrees of consecrated life have differing extremes of poverty, but in all levels it is about having a heart that is not focusing on wealth. A vow of poverty isn’t saying “no” to possessions; it is saying “yes” to trust in God.

Obedience – one of our favorite words, right? Consecrated people profess obedience to those in authority over them. They may profess obedience to an abbot, a Mother Superior, or a bishop. They promise to pray and go where they are sent, serving those they are sent to well.

They also follow the counsel of chastity. For someone consecrated, that means they practice celibacy. The Church is specific in that it is celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom. They aren’t just giving up on marriage because they “can’t find someone” or “don’t want to get married;” it is so they can marry Christ. They aren’t abandoning marriage; they are choosing a special kind of relationship with Christ, instead.

These three commitments, poverty, obedience, and celibacy, may seem extreme, but they are ways a person called to the consecrated life lives out their call to holiness. They remove the temptations to lust, greed, and pride by choosing to practice celibacy, poverty, and obedience. These vows free them to serve God more fully, removing potential obstacles that might keep them from embracing His will.

People who live the vocation of consecrated life take what the Catechism calls ‘the narrower path’ to lead others to Christ. They live in anticipation of Christ’s coming, which is the “the origin and rising of their life.” Their lives are a reminder that God is coming back and that we wait in anxious, joyful anticipation of His return.

A Life Set Apart
In the modern, fast-paced world we live in, dedicating a life to prayer and service can seem crazy to some people – especially when it involves giving up marriage. Some people might ask, “Isn’t a life spent single lonely? Won’t you eventually just end up sad because you’ll never get married?”

Undoubtedly, a person in a consecrated life may get lonely. But sometimes a married person gets lonely, too, especially in times when a marriage may be struggling. Like that married person, an individual in the consecrated life would seek to increase communication with God and constantly renew their relationship, rather than running from it.

Remember, too, that most who life the vocation of consecrated life live in community; they are never really alone. They are part of a bigger family and are loved by their brothers and sisters in Christ in their particular order.

Those that the Lord calls to consecrated life live a joyful life of service and prayer. If you feel like this is a calling you want to explore further, begin to research different religious communities and different forms of consecrated life. Each one will have a vocations director (just like the diocese has one for priests) that you should get in touch with. Eventually, you may consider scheduling a weekend to see the community. Just like with all vocations, be open to where the Holy Spirit is calling you. Trust that if God is calling you to this vocation you will find a lasting joy and peace beyond what you may imagine.

Consecrated Today
You may still be thinking to yourself, “Nope, not for me.” While it is important that you still be open to whatever God may be calling you to, it is true that many of you will probably not be called to the consecrated life. But that doesn’t mean you can’t adopt some of the practices of the consecrated life. After all, we are all called to a deeper union with God – why not find ways to work on this union in your every day life?

One way to do that is to literally “set apart” a section of your room for a prayer space. Your room may be very messy and filled with a lot of things that represent your life. Clean up a corner and dedicate it to prayer. You may not always be able to make it to a chapel to pray, but having a place right in your room where you can go to pray and be with God is a great second-choice. Place things in your prayer corner like a bible, rosary, maybe a book by a Saint, a crucifix, and any other item that helps you pray. Spend time there every day if you can, simply being in the presence of God. Like someone who lives the consecrated life, you may find that the more you take time you pray the easier it is to see the picture God is creating for your life – and the easier it is to live out that plan.

Kicking Up Dust (Teaching Materials)

The following materials are from the “Kicking Up Dust” Life Teen Life Night guide.

PROCLAIM:

Who Wants to Be Support Staff?
When was the last time you remember a nurse was praised for a successful heart transplant, or an administrative assistant being commended for record profits at a company? In all likelihood, you may have never heard those kinds of statements about those kinds of positions. They are humble positions of service that often seem overlooked, yet without them, a lot of things wouldn’t run smoothly. It is often the CEOs and surgeons who get a lot of credit for the work they do. But, it is those in supporting and serving roles that make it possible for the CEOs and surgeons to perform their jobs well. The service type jobs might not win people awards or recognition, but their role is tremendously vital.

We talked earlier this semester about the vocation of Holy Orders. There are three levels to this vocation: the episcopate (bishops), the presbyterate (priests), and the diaconate (deacons). We talked about the first two, and these are the figures most often associated with ministry within the Church hierarchy. But the third level, the diaconate, serves a tremendously vital role in the Church.

There is a lot to do in a parish, and just as priests serve as co-workers to the bishop, deacons serve as assistants to priests. A man becomes a deacon through ordination, the same way that a man is ordained a priest. The responsibilities of a deacon are different than that of a priest or bishop, however. While a priest has the focus of spreading the Gospel and connecting us to the sacraments, a deacon focuses on charitable service – in other words, helping the community they serve within.

The Church describes the role of the deacon as one who “assists in the celebration of the Divine mysteries…and dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity.” This call to celebrate the Divine mysteries and serve others in charity (love) is lived out in several ways:

The first way is by assisting with and administering the Sacrament of Baptism. You might have seen a family getting their child baptized. Many times in parish life, a deacon will administer the Sacrament of Baptism because a priest may be busy with other responsibilities. Since baptism is the gateway to all the other sacraments, the deacon provides an important ministry in being able to baptize.

The deacon also assists at Mass with the celebration of Eucharist. Although deacons cannot consecrate the bread and wine, they do have particular assisting roles in the Mass. You may have noticed them asking us to share the sign of peace or holding up the Body and Blood of Christ along with the priest. They also serve as Eucharistic Ministers. They are called Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, because they (along with priests and bishops) are the first in line to distribute Communion. That is why you will always see deacons helping at Communion – it is in their job description. Deacons can also distribute the Eucharist at ‘communion services’ when it is not possible to have Mass.

That’s not all a deacon does at Mass, though. Deacons can also proclaim the Gospel and preach homilies – they are the only ones who aren’t priests that can do that. So, you will often see the deacon walk over to the priest, who prays over him, and then walk to the ambo to proclaim the Gospel.

Deacons can also preside at funerals that are not Masses. They can witness the Sacrament of Matrimony.

We know that Jesus Christ instituted the priesthood that we know today at the Last Supper with the disciples, so when and where did the diaconate come from? The Church began with the twelve Apostles; they were the original bishops and oversaw the administration of the sacraments in the early Church, teaching the faith, and serving the poor. As the Church grew, they realized that they were being stretched thin, finding themselves choosing between administering the Word and sacraments or serving the poor. Deciding that it would not be right for them to abandon their preaching, they appointed “helpers” to serve other functions in the Church. One of these assistants was St. Stephen, who became the first martyr of the Church.

From then on the role of the deacon (which comes from a Greek word diakonos that means “servant”) was to assist the priests and serve in their community. In the Church today, you will find two kinds of deacons. There are “transitional deacons” and “permanent deacons.”

Transitional deacons are seminarians – men who are studying for the priesthood. In the last year of their study, those men are ordained into the ‘transitional’ diaconate. They will spend their time as deacons helping with Mass and other sacraments, and getting even more familiar with what the life of a priest is like. Don’t think of this like an internship or student teaching job for the priesthood. The transitional deacon makes promises to celibacy and obedience, and they are permanent promises. After a year of serving as a transitional deacon and with the permission of the bishop, he may be ordained a priest.

A permanent deacon is a man who feels called to the vocation of Holy Orders, but not as a priest. He will go to school part-time studying theology and learning how to serve as a minister before he is ordained a deacon. During that time, he grows in the same four areas that a seminarian would: intellectually, spiritually, pastorally, and as a man of God. Permanent deacons can also be married (but once ordained cannot get married or remarried if their spouse dies); if that is the case, their wives also go to these formation classes with them and grow spiritually as well.

Once they are ordained, a permanent deacon can fulfill a variety of roles in a parish. They assist at Masses, administer the Sacrament of Baptism, preside at funeral services, and witness marriages. A deacon may be employed full time for a parish, or simply volunteer there and work another full-time job outside of the parish. Permanent deacons may work in counseling or other ministries to help spread the Gospel to people of their parishes or perform important areas of ministry within a parish as religious educators, advocates of social justice, and as leaders of RCIA programs.

Above all else, a deacon lives a life in humble service to the Church. They are obedient to the priest that they serve under, and they are called to preach the Gospel with their words and with their actions.

A Life of Service – A Model For Us
If you want to be ordained a permanent deacon, you must be a male who is at least 35 years old. So, if any of you young men feel a tug towards the permanent diaconate now, know that the discernment period will be a while. Regardless of whether this particular vocation lies in our future, we can all imitate the calling of this vocation in our own lives, since it ties into our universal calling as well: the call to serve.

The word “deacon” comes from the Greek word “diakonos” which is translated “servant,” but literally means “through dust.” Deacons were seen as people so ambitious to serve that they would “kick up dust” as they ran to assist others. How joyfully do we serve? Do we “run” to the nearest occasion to serve, even if we won’t be recognized?

There won’t always be an “awards show” to recognize you for the good that you do. We are called to serve joyfully, anyway. A deacon may often be overlooked within the Church hierarchy, but without his assistance in a parish there would be a lot left undone. Every day there are hundreds of opportunities for you to love and serve others, but if you don’t act they won’t happen. Your school, home, and job would be a much different place if your attitude changed from “somebody else will do it,” to “how can I serve today?”

At its core, that is what the diaconate is all about–service. It is a lesson that we can all learn..

Having the attitude of “how I can serve,” rather than “ how can I be served” will help you prepare for whatever vocation you are called to, whether it be marriage, Holy Orders, consecrated or single life as well. May we all be like the deacons and “kick up the dust” around us.

BREAK:

Discussion questions:

  • What did you learn about the role of deacons in the Church?
  • How have you seen the deacon at our parish serve in these ways?
  • What are some ways that you can model that servanthood at home? At school? At church?