‘We didn’t start the fire’

Liz Miller, urban youth outreach coordinator for the archdiocese, gave the main talk of the evening at this first-ever confirmation rally in Kansas City, Kansas.
Liz Miller, urban youth outreach coordinator for the archdiocese, gave the main talk of the evening at this first-ever confirmation rally in Kansas City, Kansas.

by Jessica Langdon
jessica.langdon@theleaven.org

It might have been a bonfire that was blazing, but it was a different kind of flame that drew teens from parishes throughout the area to the first-of-its-kind confirmation rally Oct. 19.

The event, which was held in the field at Our Lady of Unity Parish’s Sacred Heart site, was organized by ReachKCK, an urban youth outreach funded by parish contributions from throughout the archdiocese.

A meeting with the director of religious education from one of those parishes  sparked the idea.

“We were discussing how to engage the confirmation students better, how to share the spirit of confirmation with them,” said Liz Miller, director of ReachKCK. “We wanted the students to realize that confirmation is so much more than just the ‘head’ knowledge they learn in class; it also involves the Holy Spirit actively working within them.”

Miller used the candle she was holding to illustrate the story of her own faith journey, and told the gathered teens that with sacramental grace and the gifts of confirmation, they — as people — can become new through its light.

The group also heard from Jessica Luna, a junior at Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kansas, who was confirmed just a few years ago.

Confirmation is a big step, she told them.

“It’s something that will open your eyes, and it’ll lead you to something better. It’ll guide you,” she said.

The speakers made an impression on Adanari Hernandez, who is preparing for confirmation at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Kansas City, Kansas.

“I found them inspiring,” she said. “They really got me thinking about life.”
Jazmin Gutierrez, also from  Blessed Sacrament appreciated the experience outside the classroom, and the chance to meet students from other parishes.

“It’s nice to know there are other people just like you who are doing what you’re doing,” said Jazmin.

“It feels really nice, because I can learn about somebody else and their church,” agreed Elvia Tovar Salgado, who is preparing for confirmation at St. Mary-St. Anthony Parish in Kansas City, Kansas.

And Eileen Garcia Sanchez, a member of the Cathedral of St. Peter, enjoyed being just the right age to be in the inaugural class.

“I’m pretty excited that it’s the first one — and I get to attend the first one,” she said.

Father Kent O’Connor, pastor of Our Lady of Unity, joined the teenagers in games to break the ice.

Father Thomas Schrader, O. Carm., president of Bishop Ward, offered an opening prayer, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann closed the event with a prayer.

“Lord, we ask you to bless each one here tonight,” said Archbishop Naumann.

“Send your Holy Spirit into their hearts. Help them as they prepare to receive the Holy Spirit through the sacrament of confirmation to know your love in a new way and a powerful way.”

Miller hopes the rally emphasized that confirmation is not a graduation from the Catholic Church, but an opportunity for faith to be kindled.

“I pray that they looked around and realized that they’re not alone, that they’re preparing for confirmation with hundreds of other teens just like them,” said Miller, “and that they can support each other in their choices for Christ.

“Most of all, I hope they begin to realize the Spirit’s gifts are waiting for them, and that, with even a little openness to the Spirit working in their lives, amazing things can happen.”

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