In the Confirmation season, the 15 candidates to be presented to Bishop Emeritus John S. Cummins on June 2 gathered with beaming family, sponsors, friends and catechists at St. Leander Church in San Leandro.
The short homily was delivered three times, with Father Vassar addressing a third of the congregation each time: "Jesus says to you today, I give you myself in Holy Communion. Remember, you are the body of Christ. I give to you the gift of the Holy Spirit. Remember, I will always be with you. You are in me, and I am in you. Remember, I love you."
With smiling families and extended families watching, sometimes tearfully, from the pews, the 15 young people, accompanied, by their sponsors, walked or rode to the altar to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation from the bishop.
A smiling Jacqueline Rocha, wearing a full-length white gown, also received her first Holy Communion — through her feeding tube.
At the end of Mass, Bishop Cummins congratulated the newly confirmed and their families. "The Holy Spirit is one of the very happy parts of our faith, the gentle side of God," he said.
"This is one of splendid ministries of the Diocese of Oakland, said Bishop Cummins, but it would not be possible, he told the families, "without the hope you have for your children."
"This is a very special day," he said, "and I want to offer blessings to you parents and families."
The families gathered around the bishop and Father Vassar for a photo session to commemorate the day.
"She's my angel," Ana Maria Hernandez said of her 16-year-old daughter, who received both her First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Receiving the sacraments gives her mother "a peace of mind."
"I love for her to have the sacraments," she said.
Hernandez, who also has three sons, serves as a catechist at St. Elizabeth Parish in Oakland. "I feel God has called me to serve in this way," she said. "I'm glad to do this for these special kids."
Of her daughter's special day, she said, "She's been so happy and well-behaved. She's calm at church, smiling always. She really enjoys being in church."
Esteban and Christina Lopez, members of St. Clement Parish in Hayward, experienced the joy of seeing daughters Laura, 21, and Stephanie, 16, confirmed. "I had a big knot in my throat," as she watched her daughters walk to the altar with their sponsors, Christina Lopez said. "The Mass was beautiful."
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