Our church was decked in red: red cloths, red flower wreaths around the candles, red ribbons on the edges of the pews, and red vestments on the bishop, priests and deacons. “Red” as you know is the liturgical color of the Holy Spirit. At the ceremony, the boys and girls reaffirmed their faith in God and His Church by responding “I do” to the Bishop when he asked them if they believed various teachings of the Faith and the Creed. The Bishop then laid hands on them as a group while praying a prayer. He then placed chrism on their foreheads in the form of a cross and said “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit” followed by “Peace be with you.”
Each youngster of course had chosen a confirmation name. Just as a piece of trivia, the Bishop told me that the two most common confirmation names for girls are “Cecilia” and “Elizabeth.”
One could truly feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament. May we all support these young men and women as they strive to live their Faith this year, in their high school years and beyond! We pray that the gifts of the Holy Spirit will continue to blossom and shine forth in them.
It was such an honor to have Bishop O’Connell with us to celebrate confirmation. The Bishop is not able to go to all the 109 parishes in the Diocese of Trenton to perform confirmation, so it was a privilege that he selected us.
Most of you know about the Bishop already I am sure, but I just wanted to share some biographical information about him with you. A member of the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians), Bishop O’Connell since his ordination to priesthood has served at various institutions in the areas of academic administration and education; he has served as a professor of theology, philosophy, religious studies and canon law.
In 1998, then-Father O'Connell was named the 14th president of The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. One of his main priorities while he was president of the university was the Catholic identity of the programs on campus. I was a canon law student at CUA while Bishop O’Connell was president there and was able to meet him there on one occasion (not knowing that he would be my bishop one day!).
On June 4, 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI appointed Father O'Connell as Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton. He was ordained to the episcopacy by Bishop John M. Smith in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, on July 30, 2010. Bishop O'Connell succeeded Bishop Smith as the 10th Bishop of Trenton on December 1, 2010.
Since becoming the shepherd of the Diocese, Bishop O’Connell has focused his efforts on the catechetical development of his flock, the sanctification and cultivation of his priests, and the advancement of vocations. The Bishop has also devoted special attention to the sustainability of Catholic schools in the diocese, and I know that he thinks very highly of our Academy.
The bishop also serves on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education. He is also a consultor to the Congregation for Catholic Education at the Vatican.
Congratulations again to all our newly confirmed and to their parents and families!