By Mary Lee Martinez
On Feb. 15, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller confirmed San Antonio students in an intercollegiate rite of confirmation ceremony during Sunday liturgy.
The sacrament was received by 34 students who attend Our Lady of the Lake University, University of the Incarnate Word, St. Mary’s University, University of Texas at San Antonio and San Antonio College. Oswald John Nira, Ph.D., assistant professor of religious studies and theology and chair of the humanities and social sciences department, was the catechist for OLLU students.
Nira, Gloria Urrabazo, vice president for Mission and Ministry, and Mario L. Serrano, director of University Ministry introduced the program.
“The people who are in this program are called catechumens,” Nira said. “They hear the tradition, the faith, and the Christian story, which I echo to them and they echo. That’s how people are drawn to the community of the church – by echoing and following the basic Christian message.”
Jessica Ortiz, a sophomore mass communications major, was one of the catechumens.
“My sponsor invited me to a confirmation class, and I stuck with it and realized that I needed it,” Ortiz said.
The only requirements to be a catechumen are that students need to have received their sacraments of baptism, first Holy Communion, the agreement to attend classes, be an engaged participant and have a sponsor to provide them spiritual guidance through and after the process . These sponsors have to have all their sacraments and need to be fully received within the Catholic Church.
“Jeffrey (Huber) and I became really good friends,” Jessica said about her sponsor, who is an OLLU alumni and received his sacraments when he was still a student. “When Dr. Nira described what our sponsor should be like, I thought of Jeffrey. He is a friend, somebody I can talk to, somebody who is teaching me and guiding me the right way into my faith.”
Nira said that four times throughout the academic year, the students from all the universities got together, had retreats, we went to Mass and shared fellowship.
“We thought about doing this together last year so we can do it this year,” Nira said, adding that about 20 students showed up to the first meeting at OLLU in September. “Some of the people who signed up, signed up to enrich their faith. They already had all their sacraments and they just wanted to develop and understand their faith more. We were very happy and excited about Archbishop Gustavo coming over.”
Nira said the difference between baptism and confirmation is the depth of the person’s understanding of the sacrament and discipleship.
“In the Catholic tradition, baptism usually happens (as) infants,” Nira said. “Not all the time, but typically they are baptized when they are babies and they don’t know what is going on. Confirmation is considered to be a reaffirmation of baptism, but done at a young adult age and so, because they are able to participate and know what their faith is, they are able to live out their Christian call at a deeper and more mature level.”
For more information about the intercollegiate rite of confirmation, contact University Ministry at firstname.lastname@example.org.