by WIGA AUTET
“Sealed with the Holy Spirit, you must stand tall and have courage.” 

Children, teenagers and young adults from Panguru, Kohukohu and Broadwood have been entrusted with this mission as they were receiving the sacraments of Confirmation and first Eucharist during the Mass celebrated by Fr Rodney Smyth, SM, Pa Henare Tate and Fr
Richard Cortes, MSP, at St Peter’s church in Panguru on Sunday, December 18.

This sacramental celebration followed those officiated by Bishop Patrick Dunn at St Joseph’s church in Kaitaia (November 6), at Sacred Heart church in Waitaruke (December 10) and at Holy Family church in Kerikeri (December 11) and was the last one for 2016 in Te Tai Tokerau.

In Panguru, Pa Tate talked to the 26 freshly confirmed Catholics about them “giving an example” to others, living their faith actively and attending the Sunday Mass regularly “even if it means walking, catching a horse or . . . borrowing a car — because your parents are still asleep and can’t take you”. It is a way of life, continued Pa Tate, not a passport to be renewed in five years. You are responsible for your tinana (body) but also for your wairua (spirit) — nourish it, look after it, make it grow. When in doubt, or having a decision to make — call the Holy Spirit, he will guide you, the priest added.

There were also some words for parents and sponsors — about their responsibility to support and be present alongside the newly confirmed, and not just on the Confirmation day, but throughout their lives: “Let them hear from you — send them a message, a
text (in today’s world run by “high-tech media”) — be with them at the important
moments of their lives”.

Fr Smyth, standing in for Bishop Dunn, spoke about the courage and nourishment needed but also given — by the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation and in the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament of Eucharist — that the newly confirmed have received,
to “stand tall” to bear witness to Christ, to defend their convictions, their faith, their difference from the “world”.

The event also involved a moving powhiri and a traditional and delicious kai and hospitality.

New programmes to prepare children at “the age of discretion” (about 7) for the sacraments  of Confirmation and first Eucharist will be starting in Te Tai Tokerau
in 2017 and parishioners are invited to make contact with their parish priests.

Wiga Autet is religious education programme coordinator for Northland.

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