VOL 124 NO. 14
Confirmed by choice
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
John Neri is confirmed at Bishop Ludden Junior/Senior High School
In a moving and memorable liturgy on April 4 at Bishop Ludden Junior/ Senior High School, John Neri received his First HoIy Communion and Confirmation in the presence of the entire school community and his family in the gymnasium of the school. He is a junior and class president at Bishop Ludden Junior/Senior High School. Neri was baptized as a child at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Syracuse and received First Penance there.
Neri was awed by the experience. “It’s wonderful,” he said. “This has been an amazing experience. Being in front of the whole school, I could feel the energy and support. All day long, people that I didn’t even know were congratulating me. It was cool. I’d like to thank everyone who made it possible.”
His desire to be confirmed was sparked when he attended a recent open house in the school guidance office, where he encountered Father Daniel Muscalino. Neri was influenced by what Father Muscalino had to say about being confirmed.
Neri decided that he wanted to be confirmed and receive his First Holy Communion after he realized that the process was simpler than he originally thought. Neri thought the process of being confirmed was more structured.
His sponsor and friend Julie Ficarra helped him along the path to his decision. She brought him to several Masses at St. Ann’s Church in Syracuse. “I’m really proud of him,” said Ficarra. “For him to make the decision by himself makes all the difference.”
Neri is happy with his decision. “I’m absolutely 100 percent glad that I made this decision,” said Neri. “I feel like I’m more a part of the Catholic community now.”
The liturgy for Neri’s confirmation and First Holy Communion began with Principal Dennis Meehan remarking that the liturgy would be filled with hope and joy. Then a student choral group sang. Following that, Father Muscalino led those in attendance in prayer. Following that, two students read from the Feast of the Annuncia-tion, then Father Muscalino read from the Gospel of Luke.
Father Muscalino encouraged everyone to reflect on the “astounding events that are unfolding in our midst.” He explained that nothing is impossible when one has trust in God. “God invites all of us to say ‘Yes, I trust in you,’” said Father Muscalino. “We don’t know where that will take us, but it will be a wonderful gift to the world in which we live.” Father Muscalino urged the students to ask God what He wants for them.
Father Muscalino then asked Neri to come forward and proceeded to ask him some questions about his faith.
Following that, Father Muscalino asked everyone to extend his or her hands, inviting the Holy Spirit to descend on Neri. Father Muscalino then asked everyone to congratulate Neri.
The liturgy ended with prayer and music performed by the choral group.
A small reception was held afterwards in the school library for Neri, his parents and a few friends.
Student Gina Murray was impressed by the experience. “It’s really nice that he was confirmed in front of his peers,” said Murray.
Father Muscalino felt that it was a momentous occasion when Neri was confirmed and received his First Holy Communion. He thought it was significant because Neri wanted it to be done. “It’s an incredible blessing to this school,” remarked Father Muscalino. “I’m indebted to Bishop Moynihan for letting it happen here. It’s the most incredible thing that has happened to me as a teacher and as a priest.”
Neri’s parents, John and Lauren, were present for the ceremony. They felt grateful that the ceremony was held in the school. “This is an honor,” said Lauren. “It makes us feel so proud of Bishop Ludden that they would be so kind to arrange this ceremony. It was wonderful that Father Muscalino made John feel comfortable enough so that he could take the step.”
“It’s like a dream,” added John’s father.