Confirmation Candidates Complete a Spiritual Journey

posted May 25, 2017

On a recent Sunday afternoon, the stirring sounds of traditional Lakota drumming drifted from inside Holy Rosary Church and across Red Cloud Indian School’s campus. Inside, a group of families, relatives, and friends gathered for a special Mass—to celebrate the conclusion of one sacred, spiritual journey.

During the ceremony, fifteen individuals from parishes across the reservation received the sacrament of Confirmation, their final rite of passage into the Catholic faith.

Adorned by a Confirmation stole as sign of their entrance into greater service in the Church, each candidate was blessed and anointed with holy oil by Bishop Robert Gruss of the Diocese of Rapid City. And in honor of their Lakota heritage and culture, each candidate received an eagle feather or plume to mark this significant moment in their spiritual lives.

Mia Murdock, a seventh grader at Red Cloud Elementary School, was one of the candidates who took part in this year’s confirmation service. During the time she spent preparing for her Confirmation, she reflected often on why this process is so necessary to her.   

“I think it is important to be confirmed,” she explained, “because I want to grow stronger in my faith.”

Over the last year, Mia and her fellow candidates attended regular Confirmation classes, as well as two full-group retreats, in order to prepare to accept the responsibilities of Confirmation. But throughout the process, they had the support and guidance of many, including parish staff, friends, and loved ones.

Catechists—parish leaders who give their time to help candidates understand the deeper meaning of the Confirmation process—taught the preparation classes and offered their own insights.

The candidates also chose a Confirmation sponsor—someone who has helped them see how to live a life rooted in faith—to guide them. Esperanza Hartman, a junior at Red Cloud High School, chose her science teacher Katie Montez because “I trust her and I can talk with her very openly.”

Finally, candidates chose the name of a saint whose story inspires their own spiritual journey. Esperanza connected immediately with Saint Juana Inez. “She was an early feminist and fought for equality for women,” she explained. “She was a reader of poetry as I am today.”

During the second confirmation retreat, each candidate completed their preparations—and wrote Bishop Gruss a letter explaining why they were ready to take this important step. He answered their requests by offering each candidate his blessing during their Confirmation Mass. As prayers were offered in both English and Lakota, sponsors, relatives, and friends all promised to continue to support their candidates in the next phase of their spiritual lives.

Sister Connie Schmidt, SSND, Red Cloud’s assistant for evangelization and formation, who coordinates the Confirmation program on the Pine Ridge Reservation, watched over the ceremony in awe.

“It was a beautiful experience for all who attended,” she said.

Photos © Red Cloud Indian School



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