By Tony DeGol
Corrigan Shanafelt could not have been more enthusiastic for one of the biggest milestones of his Catholic faith journey.
“Ever since I woke up, I was filled with joy,” he relayed. “I was so ready to be here. I didn’t stop thinking about it all school day. I could barely do my work. I’m ready to finally have the Holy Spirit with me.”
Shanafelt, a member of Saint Joseph Parish in Bellwood, is among the hundreds of young people who Bishop Mark is confirming this Easter season during a series of Masses throughout the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.
The Bishop confirmed Shanafelt during the first Confirmation Mass of the season on April 11 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament of Altoona.
It came after a rewarding formation experience.
“The preparation consisted of many times spent in the church basement with CCD and just learning to worship with one another,” he recalled. “It really was a learning experience all around, and the whole preparation experience really got me closer to God.”
For Julia Kline, a member of Saint Rose of Lima Parish in Altoona who was also confirmed on April 11, the Sacrament of Confirmation brought a mix of joy and pride.
“After 11 years of going through a lot of CCD, services hours, and group projects, it’s very rewarding to go through this process and show myself, my family, and everyone else here tonight, that I’m a member of this Church, and I’m very proud to be a member of this Church,” Kline said.
Saint Mary, Altoona, parishioner Noah Kelleher was also eager to welcome the Holy Spirit in his life.
“I hope it makes me happier in life and leads me to be better in what I do and how I act with others,” he commented.
Kelleher, Kline, Shanafelt, and the other Confirmation candidates were uplifted by Bishop Mark’s homily message.
He posed an important question to the candidates: What are you going to do with the awesome gifts that you are receiving?
“One option is to hide them, ignore them, put them on the shelf in the closet and forget about them,” he mentioned. “What a terrible waste that would be for you and for the good of all of us. The other option is to put them to good use for yourself and others.”
Bishop Mark encouraged the young people to always seek out the Holy Spirit as they journey through life and be attentive to His response.
“There will be times when the Holy Spirit speaks softly and quietly to you, and there will be times when it feels like a hurricane, and when it passes by and you look around, for some reason you know something is happening and your whole perspective is changed,” he stressed. “That’s a good sign the Holy Spirit is already showing you what to do or is trying to get you simply to ask.”
As their Catholic life enters a new phase, Kelleher and Kline are ready to embrace the future armed with the Holy Spirit and to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and the Church.
“For a while, I wasn’t really that close to God,” Kelleher admitted. “It wasn’t until this last year when I became close to Him and started to pray every day and speak to Him not just as our Savior and Lord, but as my friend.”
Added Kline: “As a young adult and a high school student going through some of the hardest internal conflicts that I will ever go through, I hope that the Holy Spirit can show me the path of righteousness, the path that I know I can take to become a better person in society, in life, in school, and for everyone around me.”
And for Shanafelt, his contagious enthusiasm for Confirmation shows no signs of cooling down, nor does his desire to encounter the Lord.
“I love Him as a father, I love Him as a friend – my best friend, really – I love Him as everything,” he insited. “My relationship with Him hasn’t always been the best. As I grew up and realized what God was all about, I was all over it! I love God!”
[Photo (Top left to right): Corrigan Shanafelt, Julia Kline, and Noah Kelleher. (Inset) Bishop Mark congratulates a young man after confirming him.]