Confirmation on All Saint’s Day: They gave their lives, like the stars

Approximately 20 youth and adults from five DioCal congregations were confirmed on Saturday, November 1, at St. James’ / Santiago, Oakland, in the first Beloved Community Confirmation. The service was in English and Spanish. The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus preached and presided, and the Rev. Julia McCray-Goldsmith assisted with translation.

The Rev. Sam Dessordi, priest in charge at St. James’ / Santiago, shared that Mexican traditions for Day of the Dead include both All Saint’s Day and the Feast of All Faithful Departed, November 1 and 2. St. James / Santiago was decorated for celebrating the Days of the Dead with colorful marigolds (cempasúchil) as well as a number of Ofrendas (altars for the dead). The colorful setting added to the festive feeling of confirmation, as well as demonstrated an embrace for the local celebration of the feasts.

In his sermon for All Saints Day, Bishop Marc compared the saints who have come before to the stars whose light illumines the night sky. He suggested that both the stars and the saints have given themselves for the benefit of today’s Christians, and the benefit of the whole world. 

“Saints,” he said, “gave their lives — either mortally in the case of the martyrs or in the substance of their lives with their teachings and what they’ve left behind. The stars we see gave us their light thousands and millions of years ago. When their life ends and they go supernova, they give masses of elements for the creation of whole new galaxies.”

At the announcements before sharing the Eucharist, the Rev. Scott Denman, rector of St. John’s, Oakland, made an announcement about a volunteer service opportunity following the confirmation service. Bishop Marc had wanted to link the newly confirmed with service in their lives, as they reaffirmed their commitment to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving their neighbors as themselves. 

During the reception after the Eucharist, a speaker from Genesis invited adults to support Measure BB. Young people present — those who could not vote — were invited to encourage their teachers and other adults they knew to vote for the measure on Tuesday, November 4. Measure BB would give youth better access to public transit — and potentially to better schools as a result. 

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan attended the reception to speak in favor of Measure BB not only for student transit, but also for improved road conditions, senior paratransit, and increased bicycle lanes in Oakland. Bishop Andrus concluded the speaking be reiterating the role of Christians in service and advocacy, giving voice to the voiceless, and caring for those who cannot care for themselves.

In addition to the nearly 20 youth and young adults, the current confirmation class at St. John’s, Oakland, attended and served as ushers, as well as participating in the post-liturgy action.

The reception was not only speakers about Measure BB, however. Very celebratory food — from locally made tacos to cupcakes to spaghetti — was available and enjoyed by all present. The next diocesan general confirmation will be Eco-Confirmation on Saturday, April 25, 2015, 11 a.m. Congregations intending to sponsor confirmands or reaffirmands for this service should contact Jennifer Snow for details at jennifers@diocal.org.

Additional photos are available at DioCal’s Facebook page.