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Bishop Burbidge welcomes more than 100 adults into the church

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Liz Howard’s faith journey began when she was baptized as a baby. But she was never confirmed, and she lost her faith. She also lost contact with Joe Sweeney, a man she met more than 40 years ago in a Virginia Tech laundry room.

“Our paths diverged but now they’re back,” said Sweeney, Howard's fiance and confirmation sponsor. She was toying with the idea of coming back to the church for a while, but “with Joe, it sealed the deal,” said Howard, a parishioner of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington.

She and around 130 adults from 29 parishes were confirmed by Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and Bishop Emeritus Paul S. Loverde June 25 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington.

Christopher Paul Johnson, a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria, also was baptized as a child but fell away from the faith. Later, he felt an emptiness and knew something was missing. Watching Mass on television helped Johnson realize that he wanted to be part of the church again. After he was anointed with the sacred chrism and took the name John Paul, “It felt complete,” he said. “I feel more at peace.”

In his homily, Bishop Burbidge remarked that each newly confirmed Catholic has a unique story to share about how they came into the faith. “But this you all have in common: the Lord has been at the center of those stories,” he said. “It is the Lord our God who has created you in His very own image, who has walked with you, who has chosen you.”

The Mass was celebrated in both English and Spanish for the multicultural congregation —  Catholics from St. Paul Chung (Korean) Church in Fairfax, the Ghanaian community at Queen of Apostles Church in Alexandria and from around the diocese. The cathedral was packed with the confirmandi of all ages, their sponsors and supportive family and friends.

“Together we give thanks to God for having called and chosen you, and for all those who have supported you along your faith journey —  parents, spouses, family members, friends, sponsors and those who have helped you in your formation,” said Bishop Burbidge. “You leave here looking the same, but you’re a radically new creation in and through this beautiful sacrament.”

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017