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Students preparing for Confirmation learn their formation in faith is just beginning

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The Diocese of Nashville hosted the SEALED Confirmation preparation retreat for about 250 young people from schools and parishes around the diocese on Saturday, April 10. The retreat featured talks by Bishop J. Mark Spalding, Franchelle Jaeger, Sister Caterina Joy, O.P., music by PJ Anderson and his band, and Mass was celebrated by Father Andrew Bulso. Seraphia Schroeder of St. John Vianney School in Gallatin, and her classmates dance to the music. Photos by Andy Telli

Confirmation is often viewed as the end of a person’s formation in the Catholic faith. But organizers of the SEALED Confirmation preparation retreat want young people to know that the sacrament is a beginning, not an end.

“Their formation doesn’t stop with the third sacrament of initiation,” Libby Byrnes, coordinator of high school youth ministry for the Diocese of Nashville, said of the middle and high school students preparing for Confirmation. “This is really the start of their ownership of their faith.”

Franchelle Jaeger, one of the keynote speakers, talks to the students about Baptism and Confirmation.

The diocese hosted the SEALED retreat at the Catholic Pastoral Center on Saturday, April 10. About 250 students from a dozen parishes and schools in the diocese attended.

The Office of Youth and Young Adult Formation organized the retreat after hearing from parish leaders and directors of religious education who expressed a need for it. “We wanted to meet that need,” Byrnes said.

The retreat featured keynote addresses by Franchelle Jaeger and Sister Caterina Joy, O.P. of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, breakout sessions, music by PJ Anderson and his band, Eucharistic Adoration and Confession, Mass celebrated by Father Andrew Bulso, pastor of St. Edward Church and chaplain of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Formation, and a talk by Bishop J. Mark Spalding.

Students tape the envelopes with their fears and burdens enclosed to a wall at the front of the auditorium.

Confirmation is one of three sacraments of initiation along with Baptism and the Eucharist.

“We do stupid stuff every single day,” Jaeger, a speaker, writer and parishioner at St. Matthew Church, told the crowd of mostly middle school students. “Because of Jesus Christ, I live in a world where my mess ups don’t define me.”

“The Church offers us radical and abundant and life-saving grace even in our grossest sins,” she said.

Christ “didn’t wait until we were perfect to save us,” Jaeger added. “He invites us to be holy not because we already are … but to turn us into the kind of people who look like Jesus Christ in the world.”

Bishop Spalding addresses the youth at the start of the retreat.

“Jesus wants to transform us if we let him,” Jaeger told the students.

The parishes and schools that sent students to the retreat included: St. Matthew, Our Lady of the Lake, St. Edward, St. Philip, St. Francis of Assisi, St. John Vianney, St. Christopher, St. Gregory, St. Stephen, St. Anthony, St. Frances Cabrini and the Cathedral of the Incarnation.

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