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Choosing a Confirmation Name
When you are confirmed, you will be given the option to choose a separate Confirmation name. Although there is no obligation to select a Confirmation name that is different from the name you were given at Baptism, you should choose the name of a saint for your Confirmation name.
Importance of Names
Your parents probably spent many hours thinking about what they would name you. Your name may have been chosen to honor a relative or a saint who is revered by your family or culture. While it is customary to use the names of saints as baptismal names, the Church now permits other names at baptism a long as they are not incompatible with the Christian faith. However your baptismal name was chosen, it is now a part of your history and identity.
Names are important in our religious tradition as well. In the Old Testament, God promised David: “…and I will make for you a name, like the name of the great ones of the earth” (1 Chronicles 17:8). “I call you by your name” (Isaiah 45:3-4). In the New Testament, Jesus tells the disciples that their names are written in heaven (see Luke 10:20) and both the Letter to the Philippians (4:3) and the Book of Revelation (21:12-14) refer to names being written in the book of life.
A Confirmation Name
Taking a new name at Confirmation can be symbolic of a new or deeper stage in your faith life. There are several Scripture stories of people whose names changed after they experience a conversion: Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter, and Saul to Paul. Celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation is an opportunity for you to reflect on how you want to witness to the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. If you choose a name other than your baptismal name, look to saints and holy people who are truly witnesses of faith for you. Choose the name of a saint you admire and whom you want to be your patron.
If the candidate’s baptismal name is that of a recognized saint of the Church, there is no need to select a new name for Confirmation. Using the baptismal name for Confirmation is preferred because it highlights the relationship between the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.
If the candidate chooses to take a new name for Confirmation, however, it should be a name selected in honor of Jesus or Mary or from the list of recognized saints of the Catholic Church. Names of saints are chosen to serve as patrons and models for those being confirmed. Candidates should choose a patron whose Christian life or virtues can be imitated.
Bishop Persico’s Expectations for a Confirmation Retreat
The Retreat before Confirmation is a valuable opportunity for the students to build community, receive catechesis, and experience conversion. After a good retreat, youth are more fruitfully disposed to receive the grace of the sacrament of Confirmation and more likely to continue their practice of the Catholic faith. In order to accomplish these things, the following are the Bishop’s expectations:
- It is valuable to give the group time for joyful interaction, renew acquaintances, and build a sense of preparing for the Sacrament together.
- The goals of the retreat are: to initiate (or deepen) a personal experience of Christian conversion; to have a change of heart (or a strengthening) regarding the sacrament of Confirmation.
- The sacrament of Penance should be offered. Students should receive a comprehensive and compassionate examination of conscience and be encouraged to make individual confessions. This will require adequate time and a sufficient number of priest confessors. Secondary expressions (e.g. symbolic burning of written sins) should never replace sacramental confession, nor seem to the students to be a more effective way to experience God’s mercy. If used, such tangential gestures should highlight the real absolution of sin that comes with the sacrament of Penance.
- Normally, Mass should be scheduled as part of the retreat, unless circumstances of time preclude it.
- If possible, young people who have made a significant commitment to Christ and the Catholic faith should be invited to give witness to the young people preparing for Confirmation.
- If possible, students should be reminded of the beauty and value of vocations to priesthood and consecrated life, in addition to marriage.
- The retreat should never be replaced by a day of service. While such a day can be an important part of the Confirmation program, it does not achieve the goals of a retreat.
- This retreat is a unique opportunity for parishes to evangelize their youth prior to Confirmation. Other retreat opportunities (e.g. TEC/DME, youth rallies, etc.), although warmly encouraged, should not replace this unique communal experience. The Bishop readily acknowledges that there are many creative ways to achieve the goals indicated above. He encourages those in retreat work to share their best ideas with each other for the good of the students. If Confirmation program leaders have any questions about these matters, the Bishop encourages them to speak to the diocesan offices. Promulgated September 2010
Reaffirmed by Bishop Persico January 2013