In a Mass that was celebrated in both Spanish and English, Bishop Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo, confirmed 15 young people Monday evening at Holy Family Parish in Albion. All 15 are of Mexican descent and their parents are part of the migrant farming community in Orleans and Niagara Counties.
"I was delighted to be with these migrant families for the Sacraments of Initiation," said Bishop Malone. "As their bishop, I was happy to be in their midst. I promised them that the Church in western New York, and I personally, love them and stand with them." The bishop's homily was translated to Spanish by Father Ivan Trujillo, who has worked with the migrant families in that community for more than twenty years.
For nine of the confirmands, their parents are seasonal farm workers who come to work in the local fields and orchards from June until November of each year. Although those families spend the winters living in Texas, the candidates began their Confirmation preparation last year in one of three parishes; Our Lady of the Lake in Barker, Our Lady of Fatima Church in Elba, or Holy Family Church in Albion.
"It is very difficult for them these days with all the issues of immigration. It mostly affects some of the parents because the children are all born here," said Doris Valentin, director of Hispanic migrant ministries at Holy Family Church in Albion. "One of the things that we are doing is providing some immigration clinics to help them with information and filling out necessary papers for immigration or healthcare and things like that. In Hispanic communities, when the adults were growing up, every issue that they had, they used to go to the church. So, that's another way of showing them that, over here, they can also reach out to the parish."
"These days catechesis with young people is challenging," said Valentin, who also served as the catechetical leader who helped the candidates prepare for Confirmation. "It's challenging because of all the influence they have from the media, so one of the things that I have done is use the internet to help catechize. For example, I have them look up the Sunday Mass readings on the internet. They are able to find the readings faster than I do in the internet"
Valentin encouraged the candidates to share their own family stories and traditions as part of Confirmation preparation. "They are used to hearing stories from their parents and grandparents. Those are things we try to do so that we can keep them interested and keep them coming and they feel that they are received in the Church."