Annually, BVMs and students from St. Anthony meet face-to-face to engage in conversation, learn about each other, and share faith. Photo, 2018.
Used with permission from the St. Anthony Parish [in Dubuque, Iowa] Voice Newsletter
by Marcy McElroy
For the past three years, our confirmation students have been working with the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the service component of their sacramental preparation.
The pandemic did not stop the interaction this year. Using technology, we were able to gather via Zoom. Nineteen BVM sisters from California to New York zoomed with 21 confirmation students from St. Anthony and Nativity parishes and their sponsors on Feb. 21.
This service opportunity was beneficial for all involved. It helped the young people learn about what it is like to be a religious sister, to share one’s faith with someone of a different generation, and to further develop one’s interpersonal skills.
In small groups, the sisters, candidates, and sponsors responded to questions such as “What does confirmation mean to you?”, “Why did you choose your sponsor?”, “How do you live your faith every day?”, and “Why did you choose the religious life?”
Sponsor Brian Carroll remarked that the opportunity “provided a nice platform to meet the BVM sisters and observe the interactions between them and the confirmation candidates. As the candidates confirm their role in the Catholic Church, the BVM sisters helped exemplify what a heartfelt commitment can mean to individual lives and the community at large.”
Confirmation candidate Liam Grant said, “I really enjoyed talking with the sisters and hearing about how they chose their vocation. It was very enlightening to listen to them talk about how close they are to God and how they express their love and devotion to him.”
Another reaction to the time together with these young people is from BVM Fran Donnelly of West St. Paul, Minn.: “I was privileged to partner with Anne Buckley in our conversation with two young men and their sponsors. It was enjoyable for me since I spent several years coordinating confirmation programs in a number of parishes. They made me feel young again! I was impressed with their sharing “why” each of them chose a grandparent as their sponsor. It was touching to hear of their love and respect for the wisdom figures in their lives.”
It was an inspiring afternoon. We also received a little history lesson. Did you know that the BVMs were invited to St. Anthony School in 1917 by Archbishop Keane? Over the years there were 125 BVM sisters who taught at St. Anthony’s, and they served St. Anthony’s until 1992.
A special thank you to Lori Ritz, Director of BVM Life and Mission, for helping to coordinate this relationship with the BVM sisters.