Dear Fellow Parishioners,
The Sacrament of Confirmation will be celebrated in our parish on Sunday, March 20th. For the first time since before the COVID pandemic, it will be conferred by the bishop in our parish church. The current group of candidates, and their catechists, have overcome many challenges in their 2-year period of preparation. In the past, some Confirmation Masses were celebrated at regular Sunday Mass times to provide all parishioners the opportunity to attend, without expanding the total number of Masses for the weekend. Because of space restrictions, we will have two Confirmation Masses, one in English, one in Spanish. Families were always limited in the number of guests they could bring even before COVID, and the numbers are slightly more restrictive now.
After careful study, I’ve discovered that the church is smaller than one might think. From the outside, our church is visibly one of the most imposing buildings in Petaluma, and unexceeded in beauty. From the inside, the seating capacity is less than one would think, because much of the appearance of size is due to the height of the ceiling, rather than the floor area – a common optical illusion employed to lift one’s heart and soul to God. The pews are nearly 100 years old and were made for people much shorter and smaller than today’s average person. The removal of some pews during the last renovation, making room for the baptistry on the “Mary side,” the piano on the “St. Joseph side,” and in front of the main section, further reduced capacity.
I encourage all parishioners to participate in our parish Confirmation with prayers of gratitude for our teachers and catechists, and prayers for our candidates as they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in a world that looks very different from how it did when they began their sacramental preparation a couple of years ago.
This moment of grace happens against the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine. Pope Francis asks us to join with him in reciting a Prayer for the Consecration of Russia. We have not yet received the text of the Holy Father’s proposed prayer of Consecration, but we will provide it as soon as it is available, either in the church or on the parish website. All are invited to gather or to individually pray with the Holy Father next Friday, March 25, at 9:00 am (5:00 pm in Rome).
With Lenten blessings,
Fr. Bill Donahue