This past Sunday, on Pentecost, Bishop Paprocki confirmed 44 adults from around our diocese at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. As the diocesan director of catechetical ministries I had the privilege of being the “behinds-the-scenes” guy sending out directions, checking in the candidates, and handing out nametags.
Witnessing the Rite of Confirmation is always profound, but I found myself especially moved this time by the diversity of candidates who came forward – in ethnicity, age, and geography. Some were barely out of high school, others had grandchildren. Some were born in Africa or Central America, others have lived their whole lives in Illinois. Some traveled hours to come to the cathedral, others just a few minutes. Those 44 adults truly represented a cross-section of the faithful in central Illinois.
That is one of the things I love about belonging to a “catholic” (universal) Church – it not only tolerates, but embraces the diversity of its members. Look at the saints! No two are exactly alike. Just like last Sunday’s confirmandi the saints reflect the great diversity in our Church. They come from Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. Some died or were martyred at a young age, others lived to be quite old. Some lived cloistered lives, others ministered in the city streets.
Yet the saints also shared a common goal and a common mission: to be holy and to make the world holy. Their lives, though different, were animated by the same Spirit – the very Spirit shared by the confirmandi. Even in our diversity we are bound together in the Church for a common purpose. We may all serve that purpose in different ways, but we share it nonetheless, for there is
one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.
- Ephesians 4:4-7