May was a special month at Our Lady of the Valley in La Grande with celebrations of the three sacraments of initiation on different occasions. Fifteen Confirmation candidates participated in preparation to strengthen their understanding of the faith and their role as Confirmed Catholics through youth group, Chosen sessions, and sponsor/parent and candidate workshops. On Monday, May 16th, the Most Reverend Bishop Cary conferred the sacrament of Confirmation with Fr. Saji Thomas as the concelebrant of the Mass. With a focus on Confirmation being an important step toward continual growth and development as Catholics, rather than a graduation from faith formation, candidates received the book Gifted: Unleashing the Power of Confirmation by Alison Griswold in order to revisit the gifts of the Holy Spirit that was a focus of their preparation and to continue to consider implications for their lives.
On Sunday, May 22nd, eight children received Holy Communion for the first time. During the homily, Fr. Saji had the children recite a prayer that a Carmelite nun taught him during the preparation for his own First Communion, “Oh my sweet Jesus, please come into my pure heart.” Through his memory, he prompted the children to pause and consider the significance of the sacrament they were about to receive and introduce a ritual they could practice throughout their lives before receiving Communion. Through the story he also invited parishioners to remember their own First Communion.
In addition, throughout the month eight children were baptized. Fr. Saji encouraged families to re-light the baptismal candles and pray with and for their children each year on the anniversary of the children’s baptisms.
Each of these joyous occasions marked important milestones in the lives of those receiving the sacraments, provided cause for celebration for their families and prompted the parish community to reflect on the significance of the sacraments in the faith.