Red Cloud’s Parishes Come Together to Celebrate the Joy of Confirmation

posted July 15, 2016 

Receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation is a sacred moment for Catholics. Following Baptism and First Communion, it signifies completion of one’s initiation into the Church—and a deep, unfaltering commitment to its teachings.

Over the course of this past year, a group of 27 young people from parishes across the reservation have been preparing for this momentous occasion in their lives. They have attended classes and participated in retreats, learning and reflecting on the rite of passage that Confirmation represents.

And recently, on a warm spring night, the Red Cloud community came together to celebrate a special Mass in honor of this group of candidates. Their parents, families, friends, teachers, and fellow parish members looked on as each candidate was confirmed—receiving a special blessing from Rev. Robert D Gruss, the Bishop of Rapid City, who presided over the ceremony.

For Veronica Valandra, Red Cloud’s pastoral coordinator, it was a joyful moment to remember and the culmination of the work the parishes do each and every day.

“Providing religious education and guidance is such an important role and responsibility for our parishes and we could not be more proud of this group of new Confirmation candidates for taking that spiritual education to heart,” said Veronica. “As Catholics we believe that, with this Sacrament, we are anointed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And you can see these gifts in each candidate. They are prepared to carry the Church’s message of love and forgiveness throughout their lives.”

For this group of candidates, the spiritual journey toward Confirmation began last autumn. Each candidate participated in classes at their respective parishes, taught by designated catechists or teachers. To provide additional guidance and support, each candidate selected a sponsor: Confirmation sponsors formally presented the candidates to receive the Sacrament and accept responsibility for helping their candidate fulfill their baptismal promises throughout their life.

Together with their families and sponsors, each candidate attended two Confirmation retreats—one in November and one in April—where they reflected more deeply on the meaning of the Sacraments and what it means to live by the Church’s teachings.

Finally, each candidate selected an individual saint’s name to inspire their Confirmation and their lives as Catholics going forward. Confirmation saints provide additional guidance in making life choices: candidates select saints they identify with on a more personal level, and later they can look to that saint for inspiration throughout their lives.

Candidate Ashlee Red Cloud, from the Our Lady of the Sioux parish, explained that she selected St. Catherine of Siena for her Confirmation saint name, “because she went above and beyond what was expected of her. I want to be that strong.”

Finally, when all the candidates were fully prepared, they each wrote a letter to Bishop Gruss to introduce themselves and to ask formally to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

In early May, the Bishop answered that call in the warmth of the chapel on Red Cloud’s main campus. As each candidate came forward to be confirmed, their catechists, families, and friends sat together and celebrated their spiritual progress. After the service, the entire community came together for a meal to honor the candidates.

In the midst of the celebration, Ayanna Red Fox reflected on why she wanted to prepare herself for—and receive—the sacrament of Confirmation. As she explained, “I’m getting confirmed because it will set me on a better path. It will make me stronger in my faith, and in my whole life.”


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Photos © Red Cloud Indian School