By Tony DeGol
Matthew Koenig is now considered an adult in the Church, but he is never too old for the watchful eye of his mother.
“I will always be there pushing him,” she said with a laugh when asked about advice for her son to stay strong in his Catholic faith.
She quickly admitted, however, that she has no worries about him continuing on the right path.
“Watching him grow, I think he’s prepared and ready,” Theresa Koenig added. “I think he’s all set to be an adult in the Church.”
Matthew was among 13 young men and women who celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation at Holy Family Parish in Portage on June 24 – the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist.
After receiving the Holy Spirit, the faith-filled student is, indeed, poised to continue his proud service in the Church.
“I plan on being a Eucharistic Minister or a lector,” Matthew revealed.
He has been an altar server and helped at Bingo.
Matthew and other young people throughout the diocese are receiving the sacrament later than normal this year. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the usual group Confirmation Masses celebrated by Bishop Mark during the Easter season did not occur.
When public Masses resumed in the diocese a few weeks ago, the Bishop instructed individual parishes to schedule Confirmation Masses as soon as possible and provided directives to assure the health and safety of everyone attending those gatherings. Bishop Mark delegated priests of the diocese to celebrate the sacrament, but the Bishop is accepting invitations from pastors/administrators to celebrate the Masses at parishes.
In a special message to all confirmands in the diocese this year, Bishop Mark thanked the youth for their patience and cooperation in preparing for the sacrament. The pandemic, he stressed, has made us appreciate things we often take for granted and brought us closer together as human persons who need each other.
“I thank God for all of you young people who are being confirmed today,” the Bishop stated in his message. “Even though you need to cover your faces to prevent the spread of a deadly virus, never be afraid to let others see who you really are. You are awesome images of the love and beauty of God, especially the Holy Spirit who shines on you and in you in a very special way through the sacrament of Confirmation!”
In his homily at the Holy Family Confirmation Mass, Bishop Mark reminded the youth that, like all of us over the past few months, they are coming out of the desert.
“During that time, a whole lot of people, myself included, have been praying for all of you to become strong in spirit,” he noted. “That’s why I’m here, and you young people are here, your sponsors are here, and everyone else is here this evening. We believe that tonight is your time to receive the holy anointing, not just blessed oil; but the holy anointing of the power of the Holy Spirit in each one of you.”
Wyatt Yingling is embracing his status as a newly-confirmed young adult at Holy Family Parish.
“I’m excited to be part of the Church and be able to participate,” he said.
Yingling admitted that preparing for Confirmation amid a pandemic was trying, but he has held tight to prayer and his faith.
The Pastor of Holy Family, the Very Reverend Tom Stabile, TOR, VF, recognizes the challenges young people are facing this year.
“This Confirmation Mass reminds us that God is our faithful constant on whom we can always depend,” Father Stabile commented. “God’s plans are not easily seen, especially as they are unfolding, but His plans for us will bear the fruit He intends. We — they — are part of the unfolding of God’s plan; what we believe, what we do, who we are and how we live all have a great impact on those around us and the world. I pray these 13 young men and women, with the support of their families, friends, and the faith community, grow always stronger in being the disciples God has invited them to become.”
[Photos: (Top) Bishop Mark Confirms Wyatt Yingling at Holy Family Parish in Portage; (Inset) The Bishop confirms Matthew Koenig.]