Fourteen young people received First Communion in recent services at St. George Catholic Church.
Archbishop Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Atlanta celebrated the sacrament. Father Henry Atem, the pastor, concelebrated at the morning mass at the church on Roscoe Road. Deacons Steve Beers and Ed Buckley assisted in the celebration.
“The Sacrament of Confirmation is the last to be received of the three Sacraments of Initiation, preceded respectively by Baptism, in which the gift of the Holy Spirit is first received after being cleansed of all original sin and First Eucharist,” said Darleine Arce of St. George.
The Code of Canon Law describes the First Eucharist as “the most august sacrament, in which Christ the Lord himself is contained, offered and received.”
“Those who receive confirmation are incorporated more firmly in God, deeply rooted in that divine relationship, and bonded with the church,” Arce said.
Catholic teaching holds that confirmation confers the gifts of the Holy Spirit – wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord/reverence – and strengthens and seals the candidates to live out the grace received in baptism.
“The youth have prepared for two years to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, attending foundational classes that continue to provide an overview of the Catholic Church’s history and teachings, and more specific sacramental formation, where the youth are challenged to examine their lives more closely and measure them up to the Catholic moral teachings as reflected in the life of Christ and contained in the Bible,” Arce said.
The teens “are challenged to make the change they wish to see in the world,” Arce said.
During the past year, candidates for confirmation at St. George learned that they were made by a masterful designer who has a specific purpose and mission for each of them. They also have been challenged to take on “the mission of working in themselves and in their community to bring about the change that our world needs,” Arce said.
Each youth is required to perform a minimum of 30 hours of apostolic service, in which they focus on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, which are: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, burying the dead, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, admonishing sinners, comforting the afflicted, forgiving offenses willingly and bearing wrongs patiently.
“The teens volunteer at different community organizations including Bridging the Gap, Clothes Less Traveled, among others,” Arce said.
Many participated in the Good Samaritan Project, a new service oriented effort developed within the church’s faith formation department. The Good Samaritan Project aims to serve the elderly and infirm in the community.
“As part of the Good Samaritan Project, the youth worked to clear yards of fall foliage, to help clean and dust homes and in some cases to help with home restoration,” Arce said.
Within the church, the youth helped teach classes for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. They also volunteered during Vacation Bible School.
“Through the Sacrament of Confirmation, the candidates personalize their choice for God,” Arce said of the April 9 services. “With the gifts of the Holy Spirit that they have received, our teens are taking on a new identity in Christ, becoming radical members of this secular world and redefining the idea of what youth can do in our world.