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By Rosa M. Gouveia

 With the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil, we rejoice as a family of faith!

   We gather once again as members of God’s family, to witness the great Sacramental moments in which our brothers and sisters in Christ are being strengthened in their journey of faith, as they receive First Eucharist and are Confirmed.

 What great joy it is to see others grow in faith as they more fully live their life with Christ nourished and empowered by our God who calls us into an ever more faithful and loving relationship. These months are indeed a time for celebration within our parishes and the entire Diocese, as well as a reminder of God’s call to each of us to be companions on the journey of discovering God in our everyday lives.

 Eucharist is the spiritual nourishment we need for our life’s journey. It is Christ himself who accomplishes the work entrusted to us in our daily lives. As we respond “Amen,” we are stating, “we do believe!” We believe in the REAL presence of our God who is ever present and ready to be our faithful companion. We are strengthened by the Body of Christ, the essence of God Himself, to give us the grace we need to live out our faith and share the presence of Jesus Christ with all the world. How truly blessed are we to be united in faith as one family in Christ and reminded we are not alone on our daily journey of life.

 In the Sacrament of Confirmation, we are further empowered by the gifts of the Holy Spirit for our daily, authentic living as missionary disciples, sent out to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. When we speak of Confirmation, we use various phrases such as “witness with Christ…bearing witness to the world…proclaim to all the world…active members of the Church…” all of which serve as very clear reminders of our responsibilities to live as faithful disciples of Christ in our daily lives. We are called from the moment of our Baptism to be active members of the living Body of Christ and the Holy Spirit empowers, motivates, and leads us to where we are being called to serve and give witness to the living God.

 Belonging to the family of Christ, we are all called to be messengers who share in the same mission of the very One who sends us to bear witness to the unconditional love of God freely given to everyone. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us, “Just as Baptism gives new life, Eucharist nourishes life, and Reconciliation restores life when it is broken, Confirmation strengthens that life by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” (cf. CCC 1285). The Sacraments are moments along the journey, not a graduation or finish line by any means whatsoever. On the contrary, to be fully initiated in the Catholic faith is a new beginning to fully live as members of the living Body of Christ, to be active Catholic Christians who desire to grow closer to God in faith and actively invite others to do the same. So, let us not forget we are called to live our faith daily, to be open to learning something new about our faith and how to share it with others thorough our lifetime.

 We express our thanks to parents, sponsors and family members who journey with those who have prepared to receive the Sacraments, for their faithful commitment to God in their own lives, which have inspired and motivated others to grow closer to God through the Sacraments. To all Catechists, Parish Directors and Coordinators of Catechetical Ministry, as well as Pastors, who have taken seriously their role to accompany those desiring to grow in their faith and who have helped them prepare to celebrate the reception of the Sacraments, we thank you for your ministry! For all who opened their hearts and minds to the love of God and desire to faithfully follow Christ, we thank you for being a sign of hope as our family of faith grows because you continue to live and celebrate our faith. Continued blessings to all as we strive to faithfully follow Christ!!!

Rosa Gouveia is the Director of the Diocesan Office of Catechetical Ministry.