March 20, 2020
TO: St. Dominic Confirmation Candidates and Parents
FROM: Johnny Smestad, Youth Minister
As promised, here is a comprehensive update about our move to a virtual platform to complete preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation. Please review each of these carefully and make plans to follow up as requested.
1) COMMUNICATION: Communication will be primarily through e-mail, and I can be reached at 504-813-3003. A special Confirmation page has been established on www.stdominiccyo.org which will contain the same information sent via e-mail.
2) CONFIRMATION MASS – At this time, Confirmation remains scheduled for Tuesday, April 28, 2020, with a rehearsal the night before on Monday, April 27, 2020. Decisions about whether this will take place as scheduled or be postponed rests with Archbishop Aymond in conjunction with civil authorities and any gathering restrictions in place closer to that date. It is my guess that we will not hear an update on this until after Easter.
3) INSTRUCTIONAL CLASSES – Classes will take place virtually using Zoom meetings, a video conferencing platform, from 4:15 PM – 5:30 PM on the following dates:
Monday, March 23; Wednesday, March 25; Monday, March 30; and Wednesday, April 1
Classes will be live, using a mixture of lecture and the video clips from the Chosen series as we were doing at the in-person classes. Although there will not be small group discussion, you will be able to ask questions in the virtual classes. Students will receive an e-mail the morning of class with the Zoom link and an attached handout with review questions. You do NOT need a Zoom account to participate from a computer. If you are going to watch via smartphone, you WILL need to download the Zoom app but still do not need an account.
The completed review question handout must be returned via e-mail as an attached PDF file before the next class. Please do not send a Googledoc that requires logging in. You will be able to open the question sheet in Microsoft Word, type your answers, and then save as a PDF. Due to copyright restrictions with Chosen, we are not able to record the classes and post for you to watch on your own. I ask that you reserve these four dates, but it is possible that the last one might be cancelled if we finish the main material early.
4) SAINT REFLECTION – The saint reflection will be due by April 1, 2020, by e-mailing a PDF to me. The instructions remain the same – one page, typed, and double-spaced in 12 point font, covering in equal parts a brief biography of the saint and your reasons for selecting that saint. You must include works cited. Please get this right the first time and do not make it necessary for me to return papers for inadequate length, lack of works cited, etc.
5) SERVICE HOURS – Candidates who did not complete their service hours before March 13, 2020, are required to select from among the options below to complete their service obligation, however all candidates are encouraged to consider doing some of these as a way to practice Christian charity during these challenging days of the coronavirus.
a) Place check-in phone calls to elderly relatives who are shut-in and alone due to the coronavirus. Give them a chance to visit and know they are cared about. Have a conversation; texting is not enough. Help them learn how to use Facetime and other communication technology that you know well but that they may find challenging. You may claim 1 service hour for every 3 contacts you make. You will need to e-mail me with the dates, times, names, and relationship of those you reached. Hopefully this might become a regular practice during these days staying at home and even beyond.
b) Write a letter to a resident of the nursing homes operated by the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Nursing homes may not have outside visitors at this time and such contact is usually a vital part of normal times. Your letter should be at least one page and offer an introduction of yourself and your activities (when times are normal,) your favorite Bible passage or quote that you’d like to share with them and why it is your favorite, other words of care and encouragement for them, and finally that you are praying for them. E-mail that to me as a PDF. They will be forwarded to Notre Dame Health System for printing and distribution at the Chateau de Notre Dame. The letter will be worth 1 service hour.
c) WITH PARENTAL PERMISSION: make a grocery or pharmacy trip for a senior citizen unable to do this for themselves. Each trip would be worth about 2 service hours. Send an e-mail to me with details of who you helped and what you did.
d) WITH PARENTAL PERMISSION: Second Harvest Food Bank is in need of volunteers at their warehouse for food sorting and packing as well as their community kitchen, which is facing unprecedented demand due to people losing jobs and income. Visit https://no-hunger.org/volunteer/ to make those arrangements. They are limiting shifts to 15 people in order to enforce physical distance, and anyone over the age of 15 can work in either task. Be sure to have Second Harvest provide you documentation of your hours and send to me.
6) RITE OF AFFIRMATION: The Rite of Affirmation that was supposed to take place on March 15, 2020, will not be rescheduled.
7) SPRING RETREAT: The CYO Spring Retreat remains set for April 18-19, 2020, at Camp Abbey, however there is no way of knowing right now if that will take place as scheduled. Because the retreat is for the entire CYO and not just Confirmation candidates, our preferred course of action is postponement and not cancellation if it cannot take place on April 18-19 due to civil restrictions. If it cannot take place before the Confirmation liturgy, an alternative experience (possibly virtual) may be provided.
I appreciate your patience as we worked out the above details. I felt that it was important to provide a comprehensive update rather than individual communications about the various aspects of sacramental preparation.
If you are looking to better connect with other high school students during the days of social distancing, please know you are welcome at any of the virtual St. Dominic CYO activities we will be doing in coming weeks including prayer gatherings, Bible study and reflection, and more. Details will always be posted on www.stdominiccyo.org. If I can offer you any other support, please call me at 504-813-3003. Let us turn to God and ask for His peace, which will help us weather the lack of peace in the world right now. And let us continue to pray that through the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, that we will be spared harm to life, that those who are ill will be healed, and that the pandemic will come to a swift end for all.