When Lauren Clarke (pictured) stood in front of Bishop John Noonan while he made the sign of the cross on her forehead with chrism oil; she did not know she would feel a sense of completion after receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.
“I finally feel like I am now part of the Church. It’s great,” said Clarke, parishioner of St. Peter Parish in Deland. “I feel complete and Bishop Noonan made it calm and welcoming for me.”
On Sept. 20 at St. James Cathedral in Orlando, 25 Catholics from 7 parishes received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Some are fathers, some high school students, a few are teachers like Clarke. One couple, who was married civilly eight years ago, will be celebrating the convalidation of their marriage with a renewal of their vows and a blessing of the marriage later this year. They are looking forward to celebrating as fully initiated members of the Church.
“I felt great during Mass,” said Nelida Diaz, parishioner at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Kissimmee, “like I wanted to cry from happiness.”
During 3 months of preparation, Diaz and her husband Giovanni Acosta met catechist Ralph Alameda at their parish. He became their teacher and even incorporated his lessons in Spanish to be certain Acosta would capture the entire understanding of the Church’s teachings. When Diaz asked Alameda to be her sponsor, he felt privileged.
“We did not know each other before the classes. I told her it would be an honor to be her sponsor,” said Alameda. “Hundreds of people from all ages have passed through my class and all those students in formation might not see that through their learning experiences, a catechist is also growing in his or her faith.”
Acosta said the classes have driven him to be an example to his 2 young children ages 4 and 5. He already feels a change within himself after receiving the Sacrament.
“I am entirely filled with the Holy Spirit,” said Acosta. “I feel so blessed to be confirmed. I am excited for what’s to come for me, Nelida and our family.”
During his homily, Bishop Noonan spoke in regards to finding wisdom.
“These people are being accepted into the Church and are expected to be very wise in the ways of their faith,” said Bishop Noonan. “But where can we truly find the wisdom that helps us discover love and the ability to serve the Lord?”
Bishop Noonan said wherever there is war, hatred, vengeance, or violence; that’s not wisdom. When people’s hearts are troubled, wisdom is not there since those individuals are not at peace. He left simple instructions of new beginnings for those 25 participants taking part in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
“On the journey of life, God must be the center. You truly must have a relationship with God.” said Bishop Noonan. “Relationships are built on prayer, so you must become people of prayer. We sometimes get complicated in our prayer life, but it’s not about having the right words to say, it’s about spending time in prayer with God.”