I just have to tell you, we are extremely blessed in the Lansing Diocese. Not only in our own parish priests, but also in the priest in our area, our Catholic Schools, and the teams at the diocese who work to provide opportunities for the faithful that individual parishes could never provide on their own. I have lived in five different states and experienced as many dioceses. The Lansing Diocese under the leadership of Bishop Boyea is among the best, and last weekend was a prime example.
On the evening of Friday, January 26th, I, along with two volunteer chaperones from St. John, and a group from Queen of the Miraculous Medal, headed north to The Franciscan Retreat Center in DeWitt. Seventeen Confirmation Candidates from St. John the Evangelist were among the 73 attendees at the January diocesan sponsored Outpouring retreat led by Fearless Ministries. For St. John Parish, this serves as the kick-off to Confirmation preparation. Our monthly meetings on the 4th Sunday of each month begin in February and will continue through September. These meeting begin at 3:30 pm and end with attending the 5:00 p.m. Liturgy, if candidates and sponsors have not already had the opportunity to attend Holy Mass for that Sunday. There is still time to join the group. If you are interested, please reach out to me at email@example.com or Angel Koerkel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back to last weekend…why kick off a sacramental prep with a retreat? Isn’t that usually done the other way around as the penultimate event leading up to the reception of the Sacrament? Sometimes yes, but a retreat can be done at any point in the preparation process. Last year was the first time a Confirmation group began with a retreat and it proved to be an inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
So, in the spirit of Praying the Parish Forward, for several weeks I began praying that this retreat experience would be just as good, fruitful, and grace-filled for this year’s group as it was for last year’s group. Additionally, I asked my chaperones to join me in praying for our retreat attendees in the week leading up to the event. Praying the Parish Forward, Hope and Healing Prayer Team, Family Discipleship Families, Children’s Liturgy of the Word Team Members, the Parish Office Staff, and members of the home parish of one of our chaperones were all asked to join in prayer for our attendees. Oh, my! The Holy Spirit was working…overtime!
Over a 40-hour period the 73 retreat attendees participated in everything from ice-breaker games, a massive and intense Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament in which several of our parishioners were in the quarter and semi-finals, to a game of Fortune Cookie or Prover. The team from Fearless ministries was made up of well-trained and well-educated ministers with years of youth group/retreat experience and a range of ages from college to married with established families. The youth witnessed people from various faith journeys living the faith, talking about the reality of having a relationship with Jesus, and giving testimony to the impact God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit has had in their lives. The attendee watched the retreat team pray and play, sing and dance, as well as joke around and enter deep conversations about the love of God and the great things He has instore for each of the attendees.
The Candidates actively engaged in praise and worship, heard and participated in talks centered on prayer and building a relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, prayed a walking Rosary, went to confession, spent time in Adoration, asked for and received prayer from prayer teams and attended Sunday Liturgy with Bishop Boyea. I don’t know about you, but the first time I met the bishop of the diocese where I was confirmed as 7th grader was on the day of my Confirmation. I will say it again, we are so blessed in the Diocese of Lansing.
There is so much more to the details about the weekend, and the incredible and power ways God demonstrated His great love to so many individuals at the retreat last weekend, but I invite you connect with our parish attendees and ask them. I also ask you all, the entire Parish of St. John the Evangelist, to join me through intercessory prayer for our Confirmation candidates. The world does not make it easy to be a faithful disciple of Christ. There are lies and obstacles in abundance. But take heart, because God’s Grace and Mercy exists is greater abundance than we can even begin to imagine. He has so much in store, just waiting for us to ask Him for it. So, please support these young people in their faith journey as they are choosing to grow in knowledge and relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please pray for these young people of our parish as they continue to prepare for the Sacrament of Confirmation:
Prayer for Someone Preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation
Lord, You send out Your Spirit to touch the hearts of all people,
so that they may believe in You and in Jesus whom You sent.
Look kindly on N., a candidate for Confirmation, as he/she listens to Your voice. Open his/her heart to Your Spirit and bring to fulfillment the good work that You have begun in him/her. Amen.