“Sealed with the Holy Spirit, you must stand tall and have courage.”
Children, teenagers and young adults from Panguru, Kohukohu, Pawarenga and Broadwood have been entrusted with this mission as they were receiving the sacraments of Confirmation and First Eucharist during the Mass celebrated by Fr Rodney Smyth SM, Pa Henare Tate and Fr Richard Cortes MSP, at St Peter’s church in Panguru on Sunday, 18th December 2016.
This sacramental celebration followed those officiated by Bishop Dunn at St Joseph Church in Kaitaia (November 6), at Sacred Heart Church in Waitaruke (December 10) and at the Holy Family Church in Kerikeri (December 11) and was the last one for 2016 in Te Tai Tokerau.
In Panguru, Pa Tate talked to the 26 freshly confirmed Catholics about them “giving an example” to others, living their faith actively and attending the Sunday Mass regularly “even if it means walking, catching a horse or . . . borrowing a car – because your parents are still asleep and can’t take you”. It is a way of life, continued Pa Tate, not a passport to be renewed in five years. You are responsible for your tinana (body) but also for your wairua (spirit) – nourish it, look after it, make it grow. When in doubt, or having a decision to make – call the Holy Spirit, he will guide you, the priest added.
There were also some words for parents and sponsors – about their responsibility to support and be present alongside the newly confirmed, and not just on the Confirmation day, but throughout their life: “Let them hear from you – send them a message, a text (in today’s world run by “high-tech media”) – be with them at the important moments of their lives”.
Fr Smyth, standing in for Bishop Dunn, spoke about the courage and nourishment needed but also given – by the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation and in the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament of Eucharist – that the newly confirmed have received, to “stand tall” to bear witness to Christ, to defend their convictions, their faith, their difference from the “world”.
The event also involved moving powhiri and a traditional and delicious kai and hospitality.
Most Catholics are baptised as babies – when they are too young to will it, to decide it, to make it happen. Someone (most often parents, caregivers) make this decision for the one to be baptised, and so – with Baptism, the first of the three Sacraments of Initiation, the baptised become “children of God’ – embarking on a lifelong journey leading to God the Father. However, the completion of the process of initiation into the Catholic Church is chosen by the person, when she/he chooses to be confirmed and to receive Eucharist.
The sacraments are like the “sign-posts” to keep the baptised on the right track, but also like the “oases” to refresh, nourish and strengthen, to encourage to stand tall and carry on.
Sacramental Programmes to prepare children at “the age of discretion” (about 7) for the sacraments of Confirmation and First Eucharist will be starting again in Te Tai Tokerau in 2017 and parishioners are invited to make contact with their parish priests or myself.
– Wiga Autet