Confirmation Morning with the Bishop in Cork, Cloyne and Ross

The 2023 ‘Confirmation Morning with the Bishop’ was held in the Canon Packham Hall and at Saint Luke’s National School, Douglas in Cork on Saturday morning 4th March.

Confirmation Group of 2023

At last, after a gap of three years, this annual ‘Confirmation Morning with the Bishop’ is back on the annual agenda in Cork, Cloyne and Ross. Every year, Bishop Paul Colton invites all the young people who hope to be confirmed in the year ahead to meet him near the start of the year. This happens at a morning of fun, games, activities, singing and refreshments. The last occasion this was held was in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic loomed and shortly afterwards all the planned Confirmation Services for that year were postponed. ‘It is good to be back’ said Bishop Colton. He said:

The idea of the morning is simple. Those being confirmed in a year get to meet me in person and I get to meet them. I give each of them a gift. And with the energetic support of a big team of leaders – clergy and youth leaders – they have a fun morning when, whether they are from a large parish or a small one, they see that they are part of a bigger picture in the Church.

This year’s programme was particularly busy. Following the ice breaker and a game organised by Niall Sweetnam, one of the young leaders in the Cork Diocesan Youth Council (CDYC), the confirmands took part in five different groups and activities. A group of six CDYC leaders were involved this year together with Diocesan Youth Office, Hilda Connolly.

Peter Stobart, Director of Music at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, who heads up the Diocesan Church Music Scheme, teaches everyone the hymn the Bishop has chosen to be sung at each of the Confirmation Services in the Diocese in a given year.

Discovering the Scriptures was the focus of a session hosted by the Reverend Abigail Sines. Using ‘Out of the Box’ storytelling resources, each group shared in reflection and exploration around Jesus’ statement ‘I am the true vine’, and a story called ’Something so precious’, which is based on the parable of pearl of great price. Space for silence and for sharing was created around the sense of connection to their faith and to consider what are the valuable or precious things in their lives. 

Intentional Discipleship is very much on the Anglican agenda since the meeting of the ACC in Lusaka in 2016. In Cork, Cloyne and Ross this is being integrated in the Diocesan programme Charting a Future with Confidence. At the Confirmation morning, the Very Reverend Cliff Jeffers, Dean of Ross, with the help of two ladders, explored with the young people what it means to be a disciple.

The new Archdeacon of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, the Venerable Andrew Orr, who is chairperson of Eco-Congregation Ireland introduced the young people to another idea which was launched in the Anglican Communion of churches last Summer: The Communion ForestThe Communion Forest is not only about planting trees’ explained the Archdeacon, ‘it’s about energising local initiatives, not only in tree-planting, but also undertaking activities to restore eco-sytems of many kinds in order to safeguard creation.’ Each young person was given a gift of a BeeBomb to plant at home or in their parish. The Diocese has also entered into partnershiup with Reforest Nation to plant a forest of 300 trees in Ireland between 2023 and 2024 on behalf of this year’s group of people being confirmed.

For many years, Bishop Colton, has spoken to each group of confirmands about prayer. Through his work in partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden he discovered, several decades ago, the Wreath of Christ’. Each year he has given a gift of one of these to each young person in the Diocese who has been confirmed to provide one way to help them with their praying.

It was an action-packed, varied, thought-provoking and non-stop morning that ended with the whole group singing this year’s hymn, followed by healthy refreshments before heading home to enjoy the rest of Saturday.

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