5000 young Catholics "storm" Sydney SuperDome

The Sydney Morning Herald has described yesterday's Sydney Archdiocese mass Confirmation ceremony as "a Catholic religious spectacle to rival a Hillsong-style evangelical revival meeting".

"There was the white cross on the stage floor, television screen relays, auditorium seats for pews and a congregation of thousands, not hundreds," the paper said.

As Sydney's two Hillsong churches drew 18,000 faithful to services at the weekend, the Catholic Church in Sydney "asserted its own numerical strength, conducting a Confirmation ceremony en masse at the SuperDome".

In a repeat of the church's Year 2000 spectacular, about 5000 Catholic children, watched by more than 30,000 parents, sponsors and friends, took the step of public initiation into the church.

Usually, such ceremonies are intimate affairs conducted in the parish church, but this year all Confirmations for the diocese were conducted in two ceremonies over the one day. A few parishes opted out.

The aim, said Cardinal George Pell, was to give his younger charges a taste of being part of something bigger than their parish.

"I pray this sacrament will deepen your sense of belonging to your parish, to your Catholic school community," Cardinal Pell said in his homily. "This communal celebration involving many parishes should also strengthen your sense of being part of the archdiocese of Sydney.

At the foot of the white cross, priests gathered in a circle and offered the Catholic children, aged between 10 and 12 and mostly in their last year of primary school, the seal of the Holy Spirit. They daubed anointed oil on the forehead of each Confirmation candidate.

Each child, wearing their Sunday best, wore name tags bearing the adopted name of their favourite saint.

The Daily Telegraph said on Saturday that the ceremony would involve one cardinal, five bishops, 80 priests and 300 eucharist ministers, together with 5000 primary school candidates. There would also be 38,000 mass books, stuffed with 38,000 collection envelopes, 300 communion bowls, 38,000 hosts and 85 bowls filled with chrism, or holy oil. Sunday's ceremonies are the second mass confirmation to be held by the archdiocese. The first was in 2000, when 4700 candidates were confirmed before a crowd of 45,000.

En masse, 5000 young Catholics storm the SuperDome (Sydney Morning Herald 23/5/05)
Initiation on Mass (Daily Telegraph 21/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Sydney | Confirmation 2005 - An Archdiocesan Celebration of Initiation for 5000 | Mt Pritchard Kids Can't Wait | Confirmation 2005

Record Catholic confirmation held (AAP/Daily Telegraph)
Children's exicted wait for gifts of the Holy Spirit (Catholic Weekly 15/5/05)
Record Catholic confirmation held (news.com.au/Australian Associated Press 22/5/05)

23 May 2005