Confirmations in the Vicariate... the last ones (updated with the sheep!)

Confirmation group at Holy Cross (Nordale, Mtubatuba)
As I shared in another post, at the beginning of this year we agreed with the priests I could be available for the celebration of the sacrament of confirmations the Sunday I would be in the Vicariate. 

With the appointment of the new bishop-elect of Ingwavuma, all the celebrations will now be done by him. 

There was one exception: the one on Pentecost day at Holy Cross (Nordale, Mtubatuba). Everything was already organised and it was too close to the day we got the news.

I happened to arrive earlier than usual... probably led by the Spirit! Fr Mel Loftus OSM (priest-in-charge) let me know they were waiting for me to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation before Mass. It used to be like that seven years' ago when I arrived in the Vicariate. We then moved that to Saturday afternoon giving also time to practice together the celebration and share on the meaning of the sacrament. 

Thank God there were only ten to be confirmed (and not more than a hundred like the previous time). 

It was once again interesting to see how each priest prepares the celebration. While also this group was asked to choose how they will serve the community and the church, it was done in a different way from all the others.

At the end of Mass I was given letters they had prepared for me. Fr Loftus had asked them to answer three questions: why do you want to be confirmed? how is this sacrament going to change your life? how will you serve the church?

In their answers it is clear they want to be full members of the church. They pray and hope the church through the Holy Spirit will help them be faithful to Jesus and serve others.

They believe this sacrament will help them be better people, change the way they live, grow in faith and - being the jubilee of mercy - be merciful like the Father.

A number of them expect this sacrament to help them bring other young people closer to God and see that "Jesus is our Lord and Saviour". They commit themselves to visit the old and the sick, help during Mass with the readings and - most of all - be available to the different needs.

At the end of Mass together with thanking the bishop and the priest, they also showed their gratitude to the catechist, the choir and all those who worked preparing the celebration. 

Just before the final blessing the members of St Anne also stood up and brought a special gift to the bishop: a sheep. Someone whispered I should put it on my shoulders like the good shepherd but I saw there were two problems: the sheep was pretty big and it did not look too happy to be brought into the church. 

Pity I do not have a photo of the sheep. It is now too late. I am told it is already in someone's freezer and will be part of the episcopal ordination of the new bishop of Ingwavuma.

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Got some photos of the sheep...!