During a trip I made last month to Jacksonville, FL, I had the pleasure of enjoying lunch with my friend and colleague Sean Williams (to my left) and two wonderful people, Deacon Jerry Turkowski (DRE) and Monina Mulleague (CRE), of San Juan del Rio Catholic Church in Jacksonville. Deacon Jerry and Monina recently adopted the Finding God program for their very sizeable parish and, over lunch, we discussed various aspects of evangelizing catechesis, and we got on the subject of listening to people’s stories.
I recalled how a priest friend of mine explained that, for the first few years of his priesthood, he began marriage prep with couples by asking them why they wanted to be married in the Church. Eventually, he came to realize that beginning with that question was not very welcoming. Now, he begins by asking couples to describe how they met and fell in love. That small change has made a world of difference.
That got me to thinking about how we often invite Confirmation candidates to write letters to the bishop explaining why they wish to be confirmed. While I think that’s a wonderful idea, I suggest that we take a similar approach with young people to that my priest friend took with engaged couples: invite them to share their story first! Confirmation candidates can introduce themselves to the bishop by giving a short thumbnail story of who they are, including their hobbies, extracurricular activities, favorite music, favorite sports team, what they hope to be in life, and more. Eventually, they can express their reasons for wanting to be confirmed, but that can come after they’ve had a chance to introduce themselves to the bishop.
Thanks Deacon Jerry, Monina, and Sean, for inspiring this post!
What other questions would you invite the Confirmation candidates to answer as part of telling their story to the bishop?