Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Confirmation Mass with Archbishop Sample

On Monday, April 22, I traveled to the Portland area to attend a confirmation Mass at St. Pius X parish with my new friend LouAnn Edwards.  It was a beautiful day!

First, a little about LouAnn: I met her via this blog (I’ve met so many wonderful people this way!). She works for Oregon Right to Life as the host of a show called Woman 2 Woman, a talk show airing on public access TV in the Portland metropolitan area. It is sponsored by Oregon Right to Life Education Foundation and supports the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. LouAnn she interviews pro-life experts, activists, writers, etc. Here’s her bio from the Woman 2 Woman website:

LouAnn Edwards is a wife of 28 years, and mother of six who uses her former background as a professional ice skater to jump and spin her way across Portland and the U.S. finding exciting new guests for the show. LouAnn has gone to great lengths and airport security lines to bring our audiences interviews with the most compelling experts, authors and speakers for life. Whether she’s backstage with award winning speakers, a bestselling author, a crowd filled pro- life rally , or in our beautiful Gresham studio, you’re in for a treat. When she’s not chasing someone with a microphone, LouAnn is a freelance writer, instructor for Oregon Christian Writers and has published pieces in Today’s Christian Woman, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Lifestyles Northwest, Cup of Comfort and her collection of stories: Don’t Make Me Laugh, Can’t You See I’m in the Middle of a Crisis?

LouAnn and her team are excited to bring you each and every Woman to Woman show so that all life may be protected and celebrated!

LouAnn is a cradle Catholic, but somehow confirmation got delayed, omitted, and otherwise sidelined until just this year. When she told me that she had sponsors, but that they were going to be out of town on the date of the confirmation Mass, I offered to fill in – and she accepted! (I’ve never been a sponsor before!)

Although of course I know that the bishop of a diocese is supposed to confirm the candidates, I also know that the bishop can delegate that responsibility to the parish priest; when I was confirmed at Easter Vigil 11 years ago, it was the priest who administered the sacrament, not the bishop. So, somehow, I assumed that LouAnn’s parish priest would be administering the sacrament.

Imagine my surprise when she informed me that Archbishop Alexander Sample himself would be presiding at the Mass! She and I were both excited about the prospect of meeting him.

Photo taken before everyone was seated. Seems
to be a pipe organ available,
but it was not played at this Mass.
LouAnn had not heard it used at any Masses
she has attended there, but thought it was
often used at an early Sunday morning Mass
Now…the Mass: oh my. Well, I didn’t really have high expectations, so I was not completely scandalized by the music: piano, guitars, drums, tambourines, rhythmic hand-clapping by the congregation, you name it. Always with that karaoke-style rhythm thing in the background. A Gloria with a refrain. Constant, constant noisy music (OMG, those drums!!!). By the time we were halfway through Mass, I was thinking, “Could you please just be QUIET for a few minutes?”

Still there was incense – yay! And priests alone administered the Body of Christ at Holy Communion (lay ministers administered the chalice). And from the logistical point of view, the organizers did an excellent job; there were 150 confirmandi (most of them youth, with only 10 adults). The actual mechanics of getting each one, plus the sponsor, in front of the archbishop , went very smoothly.

Okay…150 confirmandi, plus 150 sponsors = 300 bodies. I can’t even remember the last time I was at a Mass with that many people present! Then add in friends and family…the place was packed. LouAnn’s husband Gary noted that the only time he’d seen the church that full was on Christmas or Easter, and this was a Monday evening!

Even Archbishop Sample joked that, since he comes from a small rural diocese, he had never seen so many candidates at one time. He joked, “The amount of time it took to read off all of your names was longer than my confirmation Masses usually last!”

Couldn't even get them all in the photo!
After the Mass, the 150 newly-confirmed souls mounted a set of risers in the very large parish hall for a group photo with the Archbishop. Then, I saw the parish pastor, acting as a sort of battering ram, leading the Archbishop out of the parish hall. I figured he’d be back, but I wasn’t going to miss my chance to talk to him, so I followed on his heels. I could have reached out and touched the hem of his garment!!! I should have. I wonder if he would have felt power going out of him!

When we cleared the building, I called out, “Your Excellency!” and he turned around, saying, “Yes?” I asked, “Are you coming back in?” and he smiled is very genuine smile and assured me, “Oh yes, I’m coming back. I just need to change out of these vestments.”

He did return, in his cassock (thanks be to God for cassocks! I wish all priests and bishops everywhere would wear them all the time!). And then he chose a spot in which to stand and be photographed with everyone who wanted a photo. He was poised and gracious and seemed to be enjoying meeting each individual. At one point he said to the assembled crowd, “This is where I start to feel like Mickey Mouse at Disneyland!”

I snuck into the photo with LouAnn so that I would have proof that I was there!

LouAnn wanted to ask Archbishop Sample for an interview for her show, and I wanted to say a few words to him, so we waited. Finally, all of the photos were done, and most of the people had left the parish hall. LouAnn and I watched for our chance and once more approached the Archbishop.

I had joked with friends prior to this that I was going to play the part of Diogenes by lighting a large, unbleached beeswax candle and holding it up as I peered into His Excellency’s face, saying, “I’m looking for an honest bishop!” I didn’t do that, but I was “peering” – trying to discern whether Archbishop Sample is the “real deal”.

I think he is.

I told him that I loved his pastoral letter on music, and asked if he thought he would be able to accomplish the same thing in Oregon. He took a deep breath, and said, “In time. Give me time!” and he smiled. He has such a genuine smile! I allowed that he certainly needed time and that he had a lot of work to do in the Archdiocese of Portland. He nodded, and said, “Pray for me!” I told him that I already do, daily, and assured him that I would of course continue.

I ask all of you readers to pray for him, too. Daily! The Archdiocese of Portland is so full of corruption and immorality and dissent…the diabolical forces will be seeking to waylay a good bishop like Archbishop Sample at every turn. We need him to remain irreproachable (Titus 1:7-9). With our prayers and the grace of God, Archbishop Alexander Sample could be a leader in bringing a revival, renewal, and reform to the Catholic dioceses of the Pacific Northwest!

And, as I told His Excellency when I explained that many outside the Archdiocese of  Portland are counting on him: “No pressure!”  Ha!

For more photos - a LOT more! - go here – the parish hired a professional photographer for the entire event. While most of the 715 photos are of the confirmands, you can find quite a few of the Archbishop celebrating Mass as well.

Other posts about Archbishop Sample on this blog:

4/5/12  Good News
10/11/11  More Bishops with Backbone


  1. WOW , great photo of you Dr. Jay and you new friend and Archbishop Sample ...
    So the Holy Mass was little "noisy" to keep praying for a return to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ...the Holy Mass of all times . Yep got to keep prayin because I long for this Beautiful Holy Mass ...and I am privileged to be able to attend St. Francis de Sales where we have that Holy Mass ...God Bless you Dr. Jay !

  2. I know its not nice to envy, but I am a little. What a great picture. The Archbishop is coming to our parish for confirmation next month. I hope I can get a picture too.


  3. Bill, just hang out till everyone else is gone! And if you get a picture, please send it to me! BTW, I think he is actually getting and reading his mail, so chances are he will have read your letter.

  4. What a great story! If everyone understood the gravity of an Archbishop's role - which never should be taken lightly. It is obvious by his request of your prayers that Archbishop Sample understands - thanks be to God!


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