Yesterday Archbishop Timothy Dolan offered Mass and confirmed almost thirty young men at The Children's Village in Dobbs Ferry, New York. One of our friars works there and had prepared the boys for the sacrament. Two of them also received their first Holy Communion at the same Mass. My confrere was pleasantly surprised to have the Archbishop accept the invitation, and called on me to serve the Mass. (I'm known for my love of the ministry of acolyte and ability to stand on formality when necessary.)
The Archbishop's instruction to the boys was short and very well done. He acknowledged right away that they had already known hard struggles and violence in their lives. He invited them to engage the real battle of the spiritual struggle within, and assured them that God was ready for fight on their behalf.
The small chapel was packed. There was hardly enough room to do what needed to be done for the ritual, but we all managed. The Archbishop's secretary was exceedingly gracious to me; several times he anticipated troubles or missing equipment and saved us from crisis and embarrassment. I had one inspiration to play with him, but I suppressed it: when I was invited to assist with Holy Communion, "after His Excellency gives Communion to the confirmandi," I wanted to ask if they weren't confirmati at that point.
Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR concelebrated. (He began working at The Children's Village fifty years ago as his first assignment after ordination) Both he and the Archbishop gave me academic advice, warnings, and contacts when they heard I was on my way to Boston College.
May those who were confirmed yesterday continue to grow in the fullness of the Spirit. Amen.