James DeCicco was at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on the morning of April 28, Divine Mercy Sunday, for the Confirmation Mass for Youth with Disabilities. His daughter Nyah, 14, was one of 55 young people confirmed at the Mass celebrated by Cardinal Dolan.
The Mass, offered every two years, is coordinated by the archdiocesan Catechetical Office. The youths came from 19 parishes throughout the archdiocese.
“The cardinal’s homily was absolutely beautiful; it was very inspiring to hear his words,” DeCicco, a parishioner of St. Francis of Assisi in West Nyack, told Catholic New York after the Mass. “It’s a great accomplishment for her (Nyah) to be part of this.”
DeCicco said the occasion was “a beautiful day all around” for Nyah and the entire family.
“It was perfect for the archdiocese to do this for the special needs children, it’s a nice blessing.” He said Nyah has autistic spectrum disorder, a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood.
The Mass, which filled the cathedral, was also an occasion to honor the FDNY Holy Name Society and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which the cardinal did in the homily and toward the end of the Mass with words of praise and gratitude for the services of both.
The cardinal also stressed solidarity with and prayers for the victims of recent high-profile acts of violence, such as the deadly shootings at the synagogue in San Diego and the bombings at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.
Cardinal Dolan, in his homily, explained that the sacrament of confirmation flows from when “Jesus says to His apostles: receive the Holy Spirit.”
“That is what the sacrament of confirmation is…Jesus gives us a gift for the soul. Jesus gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is unleashed in the sacrament of confirmation.”
The cardinal said, “These young people who we love and cherish…your souls are so sacred, and beautiful and radiant.” He acknowledged with thankfulness the loving roles the families and extended families of the youths play in the spiritual journeys of the confirmandi, as well as those of sponsors and the parish communities.
“Thank you for your love of these magnificent children of God—radiant in our entire archdiocese. It’s a great day for all of us,” Cardinal Dolan said. He said the children’s souls were beaming with the Lord.
After the homily, the cardinal began walking down the cathedral’s center aisle, administering holy chrism oil on the foreheads of the youths, who were wearing red confirmation gowns.
After the Mass, Carmelina Tartaglia said her family believes the Confirmation Mass for Youth with Disabilities, which dates back to the mid-1980s, was “outstanding, absolutely beautiful; we feel very blessed to have this.” Her twin son and daughter, Carmelo and Lianna, 14, were among the confirmandi. The family’s parish is St. Francis of Assisi in West Nyack.
Mrs. Tartaglia called the cardinal’s homily “wonderful,” and she added that their Catholic faith “gets us through every day, through every struggle and every joy. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing to have in our hearts.”
Sister Joan Curtin, C.N.D., director of the archdiocesan Catechetical Office, told CNY, “For the youth and for their families, this is probably one of the most important days of their lives. To have a day like today at the cathedral, when they’re confirmed by the cardinal, archbishop of New York, and are surrounded by such love, it becomes a highlight—and it’s a testimony to the faith of the parents.”
Sister Joan added, “The love that you see is extraordinary; it touches everybody. The Holy Spirit was very present here, in each of our hearts—and in a special way in the hearts of these children.”