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Bishops to confirm almost 3,750 youth

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CELEBRATION: Cardinal Robert W. McElroy addresses dozens of teens, joined by their sponsors and families, during a confirmation Mass held last May 16 at Mission San Luis Rey Parish. This year, Cardinal McElroy and the diocese’s three auxiliary bishops are scheduled to confirm Catholic teens at 84 parish locations between April and late June. (Credit: Elsa Salas)

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SAN DIEGO — Spring is an especially busy time for bishops.

Cardinal Robert W. McElroy and Auxiliary Bishops Ramón Bejarano, Michael Pham and Felipe Pulido will travel throughout the Diocese of San Diego — a territory of more than 8,850 square-miles – to confer the sacrament of confirmation.

Between April 5 and June 20, the sacrament will be celebrated at 84 parish locations. Collectively, almost 3,750 youth will be confirmed after completing the required two years of sacramental preparation classes.

Baptism, the Eucharist and confirmation comprise the three sacraments of Christian initiation. In the Western Church, the ordinary minister of confirmation is a bishop; however, the sacrament can be delegated to priests on such occasions as the Easter Vigil, when parishes receive catechumens and candidates into full communion with the Church.

Confirmation is accomplished through the laying on of hands, anointing the forehead of the baptized with a perfumed oil called sacred chrism, and the words “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The sacrament completes baptism and produces what the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes as “an increase and deepening of baptismal grace.”

Cardinal McElroy celebrated the first confirmation Mass of the season on April 5 at St. Columba Parish. The last will be celebrated by Bishop Bejarano on June 20 at Resurrection Parish in Escondido.

The cardinal will preside over celebrations at 21 parishes, confirming a total of 1,139 youth. Bishop Pulido will confirm 987 at 23 parishes, Bishop Bejarano will confirm 913 at 20 parishes, and Bishop Pham will confirm 709 at 20 parishes.

In some cases, the demanding schedule will require the cardinal and bishops to be at geographically distant parishes on consecutive days, or to celebrate confirmation Masses at multiple parishes in a single day.

For example, after celebrating an evening confirmation Mass on May 3 at Holy Spirit Parish, in San Diego’s Oak Park neighborhood, Cardinal McElroy will spend the following day in the Imperial Valley. There will be confirmations in the morning in El Centro and in the afternoon in Holtville.

And that won’t be Cardinal McElroy’s only visit to the Valley for confirmations. He will return on May 25 for two Masses, where he will confirm youth from Calexico, Brawley, Westmorland and Calipatria.

On May 4 alone, Bishop Bejarano will preside over celebrations at three parishes – Holy Family, Linda Vista; St. Patrick, Carlsbad; and St. Francis of Assisi, Vista.

When celebrating confirmations, Bishop Bejarano considers himself “blessed” to share this time with the diocese’s Catholic youth.

“I’m so happy that they have come to this point in their lives being more mature and responsible about how to live the Christian faith,” he said, adding that the sacrament represents not “a graduation, but the beginning of another stage in our faith growth as we practice more firmly the love of God toward our brothers and sisters.”

For Bishop Pham, confirmation season is a hopeful sign.

“Confirmation means to me that we have young people today still believing in God through the person of Jesus Christ, who loves them and cares for them to the point of death and giving them new life through His resurrection,” he said. “In response to this incredible love … they want to witness to others through the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.”

Bishop Pulido said that he doesn’t mind that this is “the busiest time of the year” because he gets “to witness the faith of so many young men and women who are getting confirmed.”

“I love to visit parishes,” he said, “and I love to see the energy and excitement of families, parents and godparents who accompany the confirmation candidates on their journey of faith.”

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