Communication challenges confirmation candidates

JAMES ISLAND — Confirmation candidates from the Nativity Parish School of Religion joined parents and sponsors for a day of recollection at Our Lady of Mercy Outreach Center on John’s Island.

Claire Bergstrom opened the activities with a welcome and a hope that each person attending would feel informed, refreshed and renewed by day’s end.

Communication with family, with others, and with God was the theme of the day. Guest speaker was Mary Bergstrom, M.Ed., of Mentor Home and Community Based Care in Charleston. Through participation in various exercises, candidates, parents and sponsors experienced the effects of verbal and nonverbal communication, and came to realize and respect the need for personal space. Participants learned the value of careful listening and keeping lines of communication open. Bergstrom stressed the importance of communication with God through personal prayer and faithful attendance at Mass.

Parents and sponsors attended the first session while the candidates took time to read letters of encouragement written by family members. Some chose to walk along the Outreach nature trail which the candidates had selected as a class confirmation project. Throughout the month of March, candidates and their families raked, distributed mulch, placed landscape timbers and installed trail markers to beautify the trail. The nature trail is open to all guests who visit Our Lady of Mercy Outreach Center on Brownswood Road.

The second session found the students and parents sitting back to back while parents attempted to draw an object, seen only by the students, by listening to limited instructions from their son or daughter. Students and parents later reversed roles and all agreed on the importance of being clear about what is being said and the value of listening when someone is speaking. Students proved to be the best instructors, judging from the pictures produced by their parents. The room was filled with laughter, as students and parents put their heads together in an attempt to hear every word.

Each candidate had the opportunity to spend time with his or her sponsor and family members. These conversations included the importance of God in the life of each person, the opportunities each might take to be more involved in the parish, and the value of the family in assisting confirmation candidates to grow in faith. Ideas were then shared in a group discussion.

The day of recollection closed with a prayer at which families and sponsors promised to help candidates to live the faith commitment they would make at confirmation.