Last Thursday, I had the privilege of concelebrating the Confirmation Mass for a young girl who is the daughter of a former student. It really was a special moment for me because she was the youngest of his children; and when in high school, let’s just say that religion was the last thing on his mind. I would smile and say that, one day, this would change because of the moral character that was so evident in his life.
So, we stayed in touch after he graduated from high school, and he fell in love with a wonderful woman who continued to bring out the best in him; and now, he was having his youngest child confirmed. He also told me that he attends the early Mass on Sundays, which also caused me to smile because he used to hate it when his father would take him to the early Mass when he was in high school. Such a real conversion of heart!
He and his wife wanted to surprise their daughter with my presence and when I walked in with the concelebrants, she just smiled so widely and looked over to her parents and then to me. I was so impressed with her and all of the children being confirmed that day. They sang, they interacted with the Bishop, and one could see that the Holy Spirit was truly free flowing through the Church. Two things impressed me tremendously. The first was the vigor, vitality, and sound that they projected as they renewed their Baptismal vows: they really knew what they were promising and were filled with the joy of the Lord to renew their vows. Secondly, the Bishop asked some of the children what name they had chosen and so many chose the name of their grandfather or grandmother, which spoke to me of the continuity of the Faith and also its future. The children picked their grandparents’ names because of the love that was shown them all their lives: a love imbued with the Spirit’s presence. One child even said that he picked the name because his grandfather was such a religious person and he hoped to follow in his footsteps. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that answer. I could hear “Faith of our Fathers” going through my head. I knew the Faith was secure for the future.
Being a priest is such a joy for me, especially on these special occasions when I can intensely feel the presence of the Spirit doing its work of renewing the face of the earth. I am so happy to be able to be part of that renewal.