Five parishes to pilot new confirmation program for the Diocese of Wichita

Anna Gittemeier, left, and Shelly Bole pose with boxes of Confirmation program materials.

By Heather Welch
A new program to prepare youth for the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Diocese of Wichita is being piloted at five parishes. It is expected to be available to all parishes by next fall.
Shelly Bole, program coordinator for the diocesan Office of Religious Education, spearheaded the project, “Witnesses Before All the World,” at the request of Bishop Michael O. Jackels.
The confirmation preparation program emphasizes the connection between baptism and confirmation, Bole said, and teaches that each candidate is called to fulfill their baptismal call to discipleship. “Witnesses Before All the World” includes various activities, and music – and multiple forms of prayer and journaling, which Bole said is important because each person learns in a different way and is inspired by different methods.
“My prayer is that this will strengthen our young people, connect them to the church, and help them respond to their own baptismal promise of being disciples of Christ,” she said.
“This whole effort is about sharing the Good News. We want to awaken the religious imagination, develop and deepen their relationship with Jesus, and then emphasize that it doesn’t stop there.”
Others involved in the project were Betty Rajewski, Janet Hampel, and Bonnie Toombs, all long-time catechists in the diocese. In addition, St. Francis of Assisi parishioner Steve Cless spent a year and a half taping and editing the audio and video footage used in the program.
“Each member of the group was chosen for specific gifts they possess,” said Bole. “We feel we were only instruments of the Holy Spirit and that is why we were able to accomplish this. We each brought very unique gifts and the process would not have been complete without those different gifts and experiences.”
Parishes taking part in the pilot are Mother of God, Oswego; St. Francis, St. Paul; Christ the King, Wichita; Church of the Holy Spirit, Goddard; and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Wichita.
The pilot program consists of 11 modules leading up to the presentation of the Confirmation class.
Bole said that the easiest part of producing the new material was reemphasizing that confirmation is not the end of formation but is part of a lifelong process.
“My desire is that this might ignite a hunger in the candidates so they will continue to grow and want to learn about their faith for a lifetime,” she said.
Anna Gittemeier, who assisted in proofreading, sorting, and packing materials that were shipped to the pilot parishes said she enjoyed watching all of the different people come together to make the project fruitful.
“This was a collaborative effort between many people including the writers, the multimedia experts, the artist, the graphic designer and others,” she said.