Confirmation candidates participate in small group discussion.
More than 150 Confirmation candidates and their DREs listen to talks presented by NET Missionaries.
NET team leader Adam Baker speaks about the Sacrament of Confirmation.
NET team member Monica Schaefer leads the group in song.
Over 150 Confirmation candidates from eight Lehigh Valley parishes attended a Confirmation retreat facilitated by NET Ministries Nov. 16 at Allentown Central Catholic High School. The event was sponsored by the Diocesan Office of Youth, Young Adult and Family Ministry.
NET, which stands for National Evangelization Team, is a ministry organization that sends college-aged missionaries across the country to facilitate retreats for youth in grades 6-12. Since its inception in 1981, NET Ministries has led over 34,000 retreats and ministered to more than 2 million young people.
Attending parishes were: Holy Trinity, Whitehall; St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Whitehall; St. Francis of Assisi, Allentown; St. John the Baptist, Whitehall; St. Joseph the Worker, Orefield; Annunciation BVM (St. Mary), Catasauqua; St. Peter, Coplay; and St. Ursula, Fountain Hill.
“The Gospel is an action, not just something you read,” said NET missionary Mark Johnson as students gathered for the opening session. “The Gospel means ‘go,’ so we go all over the country to spread the Gospel.”
The theme of the retreat was “With Great Power,” designed to highlight the grace bestowed by the Holy Spirit upon recipients of the Sacrament of Confirmation as they become adult members of the Catholic Church. Talks on the retreat were given by various members of the NET team, and attendees were broken into small groups to reflect on topics being discussed throughout the day.
“Confirmation leaves an indelible mark on our souls,” said NET missionary Lorren Postl during the main presentation. “That means it is permanent and never goes away – but it requires a response.”
She went on to discuss the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, ultimately enabling the apostles to go out and spread the word of God.
“At Confirmation, we receive grace from God to be strong witnesses for Christ in the world,” she explained. “Be open to allowing the Holy Spirit to work in your heart.”
NET missionary Monica Schaefer shared a testimony about her own experience receiving Confirmation. Growing up in a devout Catholic home, Schaefer had been excited about receiving the sacrament, but was disappointed when she didn’t feel changed afterward.
“It’s not a one-time choice,” she reflected. “I have to keep saying yes every day.”
The retreat concluded with a Holy Hour led by Father Mark Searles, chaplain of Allentown Central Catholic. During Adoration, NET missionaries prayed individually with each of the retreat attendees in their small groups.
Adam Baker, NET team leader, gave a final reflection as Confirmation candidates prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. Drawing students’ attention to a nearby crucifix, he reflected on Christ’s passion.
“That is a radical love that requires a response,” he said. “Prayer is where you make your response, either to get closer or to stay where you are.” For more information on Confirmation rallies offered by the Office of Youth, Young Adult and Family Ministry, email Alexa Smith at email@example.com.