Hannah Kennedy and Marius Schueller, along with our Confirmation coordinator, Ben Olk, shared with the community about their experiences and insights about Confirmation. Interested in confirmation? Please visit our Sacraments Page.
Hannah: Hi, I’m Hannah Kennedy. I am a senior this year at Lakeville South High school. Around the parish you may see my brother Danny, sister Riley, mom Suzy, dad Dan, grandma Molly and great aunt Mary Ellen. I enjoy running track for my school, drinking coffee, and rollerblading.
Marius: I am Marius Schueller. In my family, I have a sister, mother and father. I enjoy playing music and soccer at Minnetonka high School. I have been at St. Joan of Arc going on 7 years. Through family mass, I have served meals at Calvary Baptist Church. I have also been involved in Sister Parish. My family has been active with delegations from Tierra Nueva Dos in Guatemala when they visit us at St. Joan of Arc, and it has been really important to us. I have spent a lot of time with the delegates and with the Sister Parish committee.
Hannah: I have been a part of St. Joan of Arc for as long as I can remember. From my first communion to youth ministry, I have been through it all. I am a part of the peer ministry team and involved with Project Togo, along with my dad, great aunt Mary Ellen, and family friend Josie. We helped organize donations of 23 boxes of clothes here at St. Joan of Arc that were distributed to 300 families in the village of Vo-Koutime at the Parish of Mary, Queen of Universe. We’ve started planning additional projects, including a delegation to Togo in 2020, and we are partnering with Arm in Arm in Africa. St Joan of Arc to me stands for a community that accepts all with no judgement and with much love.
Ben: My name is Ben Olk, and I have been involved in the Faith formation program at St. Joan’s since 2007. When we joined the parish and signed our kids up for classes, Betsey, my youngest who was in 7th grade at the time, grabbed my sleeve and quietly, but firmly told me she was not going to go unless I would be the teacher. You don’t get many invitations from your adolescent children, so I have been involved ever since.
Hannah: Just walking into SJA you can literally feel the love in the air. From the people greeting each other before mass or the band getting ready to perform during mass, so much love is here, and it is so refreshing to experience.
Ben: We start confirmation after Thanksgiving and these Sophomores come in, pensive, subdued, cautious. We meet monthly through the Winter and Spring, but don’t see them all summer. Then they come back, a couple inches taller, sometimes with a new hair style or hair color. They’re now upperclassmen and women. Confident and more self-assured, there’s even a bit of a swagger in their step. and the transformation is impressive.
Marius: My confirmation journey didn’t go the way I thought it would. We started with the essential question: What does it mean to be confirmed? The initial answer I got from our retreats was something along the lines of “to confirm one’s relationship with the catholic church.” That left me with a new question: What does that mean? I believed that things would clear up as we continued in our confirmation process, but in all honesty, they didn’t. In confirmation, we learned about what the priest wears, what each position in the catholic church means, and we got our own bible, among other things. All that is great, but seemingly trivial to a high schooler with loads of homework.
Hannah: At the final “retreat” of the confirmation journey, we had a mass to celebrate making our decision to be confirmed or not. As the mass began, I found myself with tears running down my face. As I frantically tried to cover them up before anyone noticed, I received a feeling of peace. After I got home, I started to reflect on why I started crying at the beginning of mass. I came to the startling realization that I felt so blessed to be part of this journey I just became overwhelmed with emotions. All the love, support, time, and listening that happened over the last 12 months was coming to a close and I didn’t want it to end. It’s bittersweet in a way: I enter a new chapter in my relationship with God, but end one that had me connect with God in a way I never had before. In this journey, I chose my great aunt Mary Ellen to be my sponsor, which was one of the most humbling experiences I have had. If you have never met Mary Ellen, she is truly the best human being! She lives for others, is a great listener, and has a heart that is larger than this Earth. I am beyond grateful to have had her by my side through this journey and learn her insights on how to live a life in God’s vision. This confirmation process has not only opened my eyes to different ways to connect with God, but also with the people in our community. Through social justice projects, I learned about homelessness in our night of sleeping in boxes in the parking lot, and how SJA uses their resources to help others whether it be with rent money or just a nice warm meal.
Marius: My sponsor for confirmation was Marty Roers. Mary is my god-father/incredible role model who has been a pre-mass speaker here at SJA. He works in the justice office of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Marty and I have a great relationship, and I knew that he would be an incredible sponsor. Unfortunately, Marty was not able to be with me on the day I had to decide whether or not to be confirmed. Given what I said earlier, you hopefully can understand how unprepared and isolated I felt. I decided not to be confirmed. Two days later I met with my sponsor to talk over my decision. We talked about my confirmation journey, and for the first time, I was able to answer my original question on what it means to be a catholic. I learned that for me, it’s not about knowing what the priest wears or reading the Bible daily. I found that it can also be about the sense of community and purpose that comes with doing service and maintaining my faith. So, I changed my mind and decided I wanted to be confirmed.
Hannah: I have chosen to be confirmed and continue to build my relationship with God. Even though there are a lot of things that I don’t agree with the church right now, there is also so much good, like the parish at SJA, which outweigh the negatives.
Ben: I am so impressed by the willingness of these young people
to take the process seriously,
to engage with difficult questions of faith and their relationship to God
to be vulnerable with their peers and create community
to wrestle with the challenges of being associated with a church that can be hierarchical, patriarchal, and homophobic
to be willing to recognize the wisdom and beauty in our Catholic tradition that feeds the hungry, welcomes the strangers, cares for the sick, visits the prisoners and stands with those on the margins
Working with them renews my faith in God and my faith in the possibilities for the future, which is why today is my favorite day. This is when we ask them to tell their stories, to share their apprehensions and aspirations, to claim their place at this table and to challenge us to accept them - with all their doubts, questions and concerns - as fully vested members of this Catholic community. I am grateful to these brave young men and women, to their sponsors who walked with them, and to their families who have supported them throughout.
Marius: I envision myself continuing to be involved with SJA in in its quest to dream a world united. For me, this will still be through feeding the homeless at Calvary Meals and joining people in solidarity with our sister parish in Guatemala. I don’t think it is impossible to unite a divided world; however, it is up to Catholics to join with everyone to achieve it.
Hannah: In my future, I plan to attend college either at St. Ben’s or St. Scholastica to get my degree in geriatric nursing. I hope to stay involved here at SJA when I am home and continue to help on project Togo. It would be my hope that the larger Catholic Church becomes more welcoming to everyone regardless of gender orientation, divorced or not, who they love, or any reason. Jesus taught us to love people as they are and I believe that as a church we should not turn people away, but welcome them with open arms and ears. I hope that SJA can expand their impact to even more people. SJA truly changes people’s lives and I hope that never changes. Going through the confirmation process has changed the way I see God in the world around me and has been a blessing for me to participate in.
Ben: Joan Chittister writes: “So come in, be open, listen to others, explore the great questions of life together, and hold one another up along the way. That’s what community life is all about. Share the wisdom, get the grace, give the life away.”
Hannah: I am trying to let go, trying to hold on,
Marius: Learning, growing, leaving
Hannah: What do I leave behind? What do I move toward?
Marius: God, grow my faith, whatever that means.
Hannah: Not in people, or systems
Marius: Not in what-someone-else-tells-me-I-am-supposed-to-believe,
Hannah: But in you, the living God. The one who heals, the one who reveals.
Marius: The one who restores. The one who turns the ways of this world upside down.
Hannah: The one who calls me to mercy and justice and love.
Marius: The one who stirs us all to move.
Hannah: That’s all I really want.
Marius: That’s all I really want.
Hannah: More of you in me.
Marius: More of you in us.
Our youth at SJA have amazing things to say. Our goal is to give them a platform to share their thoughts on topics they want to talk about. Their thoughts are uniquely theirs. From politics to faith, school issues to our church, this blog shares their voices with our community.