May and June were busy months for Regina Archbishop Donald Bolen; he held 53 Confirmation, and in some cases First Communion celebrations, in 50 parishes throughout the archdiocese. Bishops traditionally celebrate the confirmations but last year the Archdiocese was between bishops so parish priests looked after the services. As the new Archbishop Bolen decided to do all the Confirmations personally because he wants to get out to as many parishes as possible, but realistically, there are not enough weekends, to get to all 131 parishes, plus those on First Nations Reserves, in one spring. He expects that it will take him three years to visit all parishes.
Archbishop Bolen said people can always find reasons to be discouraged in the Church, “but when you do the Confirmation runs you see a lot of positive signs of life in the.” He suggested that some of the children who were confirmed and received First Communion are in families who don’t regularly attend mass but, he pointed out, those parents and grandparents still see the sacraments as important for the life of their children. “It’s very encouraging to see all these young people taking steps to deepen their faith,” said Bolen at the conclusion of Confirmation season.
He talked about the variety and differences between those with a large number of candidates and those with fewer. The largest group was 90 at Regina’s Resurrection Parish with at least two other Regina parishes close behind. Resurrection, Holy Trinity and Holy Family each had two classes of candidates and in each case the celebrations were held on two consecutive evenings.
The large celebrations have a different dynamic, he said, and the small ones are like extended family gatherings and they are special too. With the smaller celebrations, he tries to find a way to be easy on the candidates when he questions them. “When there are 50 kids there’s a lot of cover and you don’t have to answer questions if you don’t want to. “There’s more pressure within smaller groups and I try to make it easy for them. It’s not my desire to make them feel awkward.”
The smallest number was one candidate at St. Elizabeth Parish in Killaly, and one in The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Parish in Val Marie. Killaly is in east central Saskatchewan about a 1.5-hour drive from Regina and Val Marie is in the Southwest Cypress Hills area about 3.5 hours from Regina. It emphasizes the vastness of the Regina Archdiocese which constitutes most of southern Saskatchewan. Archbishop Bolen said he put on about 5,000 kilometers on his vehicle during May and June. He has a companion, a retired Knight of Columbus, who drives for him on long trips while he sometimes takes the opportunity to work on his laptop to keep up with things. The days get longer in May and June and he enjoys seeing the field work beginning on the farms and the greening of the prairie when the crops start to sprout. “It’s a good time to be on the road.”
“I think overall, it went very, very well.” Next year he will reach out to different parishes to celebrate these sacraments.