Forty-one youths and RCIA candidates from the various language groups of Good Shepherd Church, Setapak, were delighted to complete their sacrament of Christian initiation with the conferring of the Sacrament of Confirmation on 29th June 2014. The Sacrament was conferred by Archbishop Emeritus, The Most Rev. Murphy Pakiam. Coinciding with the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, the confirmands were committed to witness to Christ, like St Paul who, after encountering Christ on the road to Damascus, went from being a bitter enemy of the Church to putting his whole existence to the service of the Gospel. For it is not possible for us to be sealed with the Holy Spirit and remain firmly in our place, stuck in our habits. It should push us to overcome the selfishness that we have in our hearts in order to decisively follow the Teacher who has given His life for His friends.
“Since ancient times, the Roman Church celebrates the Apostles Peter and Paul in one unique feast on the same day, June 29,” the Archbishop observed. He explained that “this feast inspires in us a great joy, because it confronts us with God’s work of mercy in the hearts of two men who were great sinners.” In his homily, he reminded the confirmands about Jesus’s question to Peter in the Gospel, ‘Who do you say I am?’ and Peter’s response ‘You are The Messiah, The Son of The Living God’. It was a personal response which led to a personal commitment to Christ and eventually to leading the Church as the first Pope.
They were also told to model their lives on St Paul who was chosen to be an instrument to spread the good news and became a great missionary of the faith, reaching out to others, bringing the good news from town to town. The Archbishop also elaborated on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord) and encouraged the confirmands to pray for the gift of piety. He said that it is a special gift given to young people to desire to worship God and to serve Him.
In preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation, the confirmands went through a structured programme for more than a year. This included weekly Sunday lessons, retreats, camps and outreach activities. The last camp before the sacrament was themed I am a Christ-A-Holic. The camp started off with confession and was followed by a session on “Who are you following? Christ or the Crowd.” Here, the youths were given an insight of the various issues that exist in our country and why they should constantly be focused on the teachings of Jesus.
The following day’s session were ‘I Cherish Who I AM’ and ‘God & I’. Here the youths were made to realise their hidden potential, talents and gifts and many were surprised at the hidden talents of their fellow peers. They were encouraged to let go of the past and to use these gifts to serve God and for the growth of the Church. Next, the youths were reminded of the ‘Fruits & Gifts of the Holy Spirit’. They were encouraged to pray for the one gift they could relate to the most and use for their spiritual growth.
The camp’s evening session were ‘Parent Teen Relationship’ and ‘Let Go and Let God’ where the youths were reminded of their parents’ love, sacrifice and support on their journey towards young adulthood. They were handed personal hand-written letters from their parents. Many were touched by their parents’ love for them. The next session took the youths and teachers on a personal reflective journey with Jesus, composed of meditative prayers. They were shown a short clip of the Passion of Christ. Here they were reminded of Jesus’ love towards us and his sacrifice on the cross. Everyone was then invited to dedicate a prayer for themselves and anyone else they wished on a huge candle-lit cross. The cross was a final reflection of the youths’ dedication and pledge towards following Jesus.
The final day’s session was on ‘Chastity, Condoms, Co-habitation & Pornography’. The youths were exposed to the Church’s views on pornography and boy-girl relationships. The challenges that exist in today’s world about sexuality and how to face the challenges as a Christian were also shared. The camp concluded with the final session ‘Who are you to My Church?’. The youths were exposed to the various ministries that exist in the parish and how they could contribute towards their growth. They were encouraged to pledge their talents and gifts towards a ministry in the parish and the response was very encouraging.
Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. V.A. Michael thanked the youths for their dedication and commitment towards the growth of the parish and urged them to have a personal relationship with Jesus in their journey of Christian life. Their parents and god-parents were reminded to continue to play an active role in guiding them as they face the challenges of the world. He also thanked all the teachers who were instrumental in the spiritual growth of these youths