Jamieson, director of the Catechesis office in the Diocese of Hamilton, and colleague David Dayler facilitated the first seminar in a new Confirmation preparation program at St. Patrick’s Church in Mississauga May 31. The program is based on a textbook they published last September called Gifted by God.
As former Catholic school teachers, Jamieson and Dayler are both experienced in preparing young people for Confirmation in parishes and in schools. They believe that for the program to succeed, both the catechumens and their parents have to be engaged.
“In every session, we ask the parent or caregiver to tell the young person something important so we ask them to think about being disciples in that session,” said Jamieson. “All adults who care for young people hope that they have a good and meaningful life… and that God has hopes for us in our lives too. So it really helps to encourage that encounter with the person important in their faith journey.”
Jamieson describes moments of sacramental Confirmation as moments of encounter with people, especially with parents.
“If we can have the time when parents and children can really share their faith, when people in the parish can really talk about things that are important to them, like their favourite part of the Bible, or what makes Mass meaningful for you... That is not just a lesson of how I go to Confirmation but it’s a real witness talk of what it means to me when God forgives me.”
The heart of understanding Confirmation is that a person is as much a social being as they are sacred.
“What our role is as a caring adult in the lives of young people is to help them to be open so they can co-operate with the grace of almighty God,” said Jamieson. “If you receive the gift and you don’t know what the gift is about or you don’t know who the person is who’s giving it to you, or you don’t know what the intention of the gift is, it makes it very difficult for you to use that gift well.”
Beyond the sessions, Jamieson hopes that young people will continue to grow their interactions and encounters about their faith. One of her favourite parts of the program, she said, is the six tags that come with the program’s candidate books, called Face2Face.
“It tells you that just because you had a wonderful session in your parish doesn’t mean that the learning and talking is over,” she said. You should be having face to face ongoing conversation. One such question: “How does knowing that Jesus died to save us change the way you’ve lived or feel about life?”
Novalis Publishing is offering free workshops that include the entire program, an introduction to the authors and practical advice for parish sessions. Jamieson and Dayler will be holding another seminar on June 16 at Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre in Niagara Falls, Ont.
(Uy, 18, is a first-year advertising student at OCAD University in Toronto.)