Bishop Robert Deeley confirms adults and teens from 11 southern Maine parishes
Calling it a joyful and holy night, Bishop Robert Deeley celebrated Mass at Holy Martyrs of North America Church in Falmouth on Friday, June 2, during which 34 adults and teens received the sacrament of confirmation.
“This evening, in our gathering, wonderful things happen. This sacrament is a gift of grace. It strengthens us in living a life grounded in our faith,” the bishop said. “The sacrament of confirmation completes what began in your baptism, your initiation into the Church. It is meant to make you fully a member of the Church.”
The adults and teens came from 11 different parishes. All had previously been baptized in the Catholic faith but were never confirmed and in some cases had not yet received first holy Communion.
“In receiving the Spirit of God, we draw closer to Jesus who told us, ‘I am the way, the truth, the life.’ In the Church, in the community, we listen and learn what is the way, what is truth, and we apply what we learn to the life we live. We are fed with the Eucharist, and we find the help to live as we are called to live. And, in the process, we find the happiness Jesus wishes for us,” the bishop said.
Caleb Crocker from St. John Paul II Parish in Scarborough, who was confirmed during the Mass, said he has found a sense of peace since reconnecting with the Catholic Church.
“I was in a kind of lonely, empty headspace for a while,” he said. “The way I describe it is that, at some point, I felt like claws digging into the back of my mind, and suddenly, they were released, and I felt this need to go back to church. It was as if the holy hand of Jesus swatted them away.”
Crocker said that it took him a while, but he started attending Mass again. He said Father Alexander Boucher noticed him there, and the two started talking, leading to Crocker’s journey back to the faith.
Crocker said he was especially moved by participating in the sacrament of reconciliation.
“It was probably the most physically satisfying. You feel the sense of a weight coming off your chest after your first confession and your first penance,” he said.
He described the sacrament of confirmation as “a very nice way to seal everything together.”
Austin Laxson, also from St. John Paul II Parish, had not previously received the sacraments of confirmation or first Eucharist. He said his connection with the Church started when his girlfriend, unexpectedly, took him to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland one day.
“From that moment, I slowly started to fall in love with the Church. I liked how I felt because of it. I started going to Mass every Sunday and just falling more in love with it and with God and all that he has given us,” Laxson said.
Laxson said the beautiful hymns are what first drew him in, but now he most enjoys listening to the homilies.
“I love hearing what the priests have to say and how they can connect what happened 2,000 years ago to now,” he said.
Laxson described being confirmed and receiving first Communion as a big step forward.
“It is just me growing my faith and continuing my journey. Now is just the start. I still have years of growing my faith,” he said.
During the Mass, the bishop laid hands over all those to be confirmed, praying, “send upon them, O Lord, the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete; give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and piety; fill them with the spirit of the fear of the Lord.”
Accompanied by their sponsors, the candidates then approached the bishop one by one. He anointed the forehead of each with sacred chrism, saying “be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Those who were confirmed described receiving the sacrament as a life-changing experience.
“The Holy Spirit put it on my heart, and I am here today,” said Christopher Velletri of St. Michael Parish in Augusta. “It means commitment to God, and unity with the Holy Spirit, and life in the Church.”
“Like Bishop Deeley said, I feel closer to Christ, closer to being in alignment with the Church and the faith, and that feels good,” said Seth Gillis from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, who said he had long thought about being confirmed but finally decided to do so after seeing his three children receive the sacraments. “It felt good to do it. I am happy it all came together.”
“I love the Church, and I love the people I’ve met along the way,” said Timothy Russell of St. John Paul II Parish, who will also soon be married in the Church and who recently joined the Knights of Columbus. “I really feel fulfilled. I feel ready to take the step into this faith. I really feel committed to it now. I feel whole.”
This is the second Mass celebrated this spring to confirm already baptized teens and adults. A Mass was also celebrated by the bishop on May 19 at St. Mary Church in Bangor.