A Different Approach for Letters to the Bishop for Confirmation

Joe Paprocki and colleagues at lunch in Jacksonville

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?

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.


  1. This idea is very good. I think the children will enjoy telling the Bishop about themselves, it will bring the children closer to understanding that the Bishop and our Catholic Church is a community that cares about them. What better way to teach them!

  2. Questions I might include are what I ask in their one on one interview before Confirmation–how they see themselves taking their soon to be confirmed Faith to the next level through involvement in Church ministry/ leadership; and also what gift of the Holy Spirit do they feel they especially need at this point in their lives/why.

  3. This approach is very good. I would hope my parish considers this approach for Confirmation students. Thank You

  4. Do they feel that the Lord has always meant to be apart of our life? How Has that been true in your own life and after confirmed how will you continue your faith journey?

  5. Before taking their confirmed faith to the next level set aside a class that students can have time to reflect on “Who Is God To Them”.
    This can be done by having them use the Creed, rewriting it in their own words.
    Amen “True Diciples”.

  6. A few ideas we give to our candidates to include in their letters to the bishop, along with your very good suggestions:
    1) The experience in preparing for Confirmation was most meaningful
    2) Confirmation name and why you chose it
    3) Sponsor and why you chose him/her

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