Forty-six adults and teens receive the sacrament of confirmation from Bishop Deeley

“It’s one of the most beautiful, grateful things that has ever happened to me.”

That is how Chris Archambault of Saco describes his journey from doubter to believer and now to newly confirmed Catholic.

“If you were to ask me four years ago if I would be standing here, I would say no. To me, it is the great thing of God touching me and giving me the ability to find him,” Archambault says.

Archambault was among 46 adults and teenagers from more than 10 parishes who received the sacrament of confirmation from Bishop Robert Deeley at Holy Martyrs of North America Church in Falmouth on Friday, April 12. Additional opportunities for adults and teens to receive the sacrament are upcoming in Caribou on May 3 and in Brewer on May 17.

“I am very happy to be with you for this special moment on your journey of faith. I know that each of you has made the choice to be here. You have elected to bring yourself closer to the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit promised by him. It is for that reason that you ask the community that is the Church to give you this sacrament of confirmation, this sacred sign that signifies God’s loving presence among us,” Bishop Deeley said.

The adults and teenagers were all individuals who were baptized in the Catholic faith but who were never confirmed. Half of the individuals also received first holy Communion during the Mass.

That was the case for Archambault, a member of Good Shepherd Parish in Saco. He says he had been away from the Church for 35 years, embracing instead pagan religions.

“I participated in almost every bad thing you could think of. I was away from Jesus for a long time I worshipped false gods, false idols,” he says.

Archambault says it was his best friend who led him back to the faith. He says his friend joined the Armed Forces and went into combat overseas as an atheist but came home a Christian. He says it led to a lot of debates between them.

"It was just slow questions here and there, and then, one day, I got upset, and I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to read the Bible cover to cover to prove you’re wrong,’” Archambault recalls.

Just the opposite happened.

“I read it, and I wept. Then, I read it again, and we started to have a very positive dialogue around religion. The Bible answered 90% of my questions and what most of my arguments were against the Church,” he says. “I blamed God for every bad thing that ever happened to me, but reading the Bible, [I came to] an understanding that we have freewill and what that means. God does not put bad things against us; that’s not what he does. It helped me understand.”

Archambault says he started to attend Mass and to do more research into the faith. Now, he says, his goal is to share what he found with others.

“Maybe if I can talk to them the way I was spoken to, I might be able to bring someone, even if it’s just one person, to the Church. It’s one more person that needs to be here, one more person that needs to be saved,” he says.

Bob Grinnell of Saco, also a member of Good Shepherd Parish, says challenges in his life also kept him way from the faith. He says when he was 25 years old, his father died, followed by his mother 10 years later, and then his brother and his sister.

“There was a lot of death, and I kind of got inside myself just to be able to survive,” he says.

He says his wife, a cradle Catholic, would gently suggest attending Mass, and eventually, the two started to pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet together. He says, as a result, something changed within him.

“I just felt something divine, I guess. It was like, ‘Hey, don’t be mad anymore about what happened, about losing your family.’ It just kind of started there,” he says. “I was driving one day, and it was like something hit me. I was like, OK, it’s time.”

He says from the first Mass he attended, he felt welcome.

“Deacon [Kevin] Jacques has been awesome. Father [Tim] Nadeau, I love him. It’s weird. I was never a big one for community. I was kind of a loner, but they both made me feel welcome,” he says. “The first Mass I went to, Father Nadeau just kind of tapped me on the shoulder, kind of gave me a hug. He really was instrumental, along with my wife, in getting me to embrace it. They just made me feel welcome, and that hard rock shell that was around my heart just kind of melted away.”

He says he has done a lot of praying to both the Holy Spirit and Jesus for greater understanding of what receiving the sacrament of confirmation will mean for him but says he has already received many blessings.

“It’s been very joyous for me,” he says.

Like Archambault and Grinnell, Malissa Norfolk of Monmouth says she also spent years away from the faith. She says after receiving first Communion as a child, her mother gave her the choice on whether or not to continue with religious education. She says, being a child, staying home and watching cartoons won out. She says she stopped going to church, and it remained that way through high school, college, and marriage.

She says she and her husband had a dog, whom she describes as the love of their lives. She says when she found out the dog was going into kidney failure, she was heartbroken. However, that same week, she was given a great gift. She found out that she was pregnant.

“I knew that God had a hand in that because there was no way that was going to happen at the same time. So, that’s when we were kind of like, we need to find a Catholic church,” she says.

After moving to Monmouth, the couple connected with St. Michael Parish in Augusta. She says she wanted to receive the sacrament of confirmation so she could guide her son, who is now 18 months old, in the faith.

“I think having that greater understanding allows me to let Theodore kind of explore and learn, and I can guide him because I have that understanding,” she says.

She says she has spent the last year listening to “The Bible in a Year” and “The Catechism in a Year” every day, and they also got Theodore a book of Bible stories.

"He loves it. He loves reading. So, we flip through and read it,” she says.

Norfolk says she feels like the journey has already changed her.

“I feel like I’m trying to be more patient and calmer. Whenever I pray to God, which is every day, I ask him, ‘Can you give me more patience? Can you help me be a better mother?’ It's that kind of thing, and I think that has helped me,” she says.

Along with St. Michael Parish and Good Shepherd Parish, those receiving the sacrament of confirmation in Falmouth came from All Saints Parish in Brunswick, Holy Spirit Parish in Wells, Our Lady of Hope Parish in Portland, Parish of the Ascension of the Lord in Kittery, Parish of the Holy Eucharist in Falmouth, the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes, Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston, and St. John Paul II Parish in Scarborough.

“God bless you all and help you to stay close to the One who loves you so much he died for you on the cross and is here with you this evening in a very real way in his Spirit who comes on you today to confirm you in his love and mercy,” the bishop told them.  “Just as the Spirit empowered the disciples to proclaim the Lord, may you find the same joy in the gifts you receive in confirmation this evening, and may they keep you close to the Lord Jesus and his Church.”

That is what Andrea Lorraine Jordan from South Portland, a member of St. John Paul II Parish, says she plans to do.

“I took the RCIA class, which was amazing, and I want to just stay in it, stay connected, and do what I can,” she says.

Jordan says what started her on the journey to receive the sacrament of confirmation was the opportunity to be a godmother, but says she found a sense of belonging in the Church.

"I feel like I belong, like I’m part of something so much bigger than me, and it’s just special that I can be a shining light to that little boy that I’m godmother to now,” she says.

Being a godmother is also what led Tanika Roy of Biddeford to receive the sacraments, alongside her sister, Alicia, who recently gave birth to a baby boy.

“Growing up, my family always told us that we were Catholic, but we were never really told what being Catholic meant,” says Alicia, who is from Lyman. “I’ve been super interested, but then, when I had a son, it encouraged me to reach out and learn because I want to teach him well, so he can learn about Jesus and the faith."

Tanika says participating in classes and becoming part of the Good Shepherd Parish community has already made a difference to them.

“About three weeks ago, we lost our father. That was the day before Holy Week started and I was thankful to be in church around people in the church. It helped me a lot,” says Tanika. “Now, I’m going to be attending Mass, which I never attended before. I have God in my live now. I have met many nice people in the church, and I’m excited for the future.”

Baptized Catholics who are seeking to complete the initiation sacraments should contact their local parishes. Registrations are still being accepted for the Masses in Brewer and Caribou.

Bishop Robert Deeley prays with Father Steven Cartwright and Msgr. Marc Caron beside him.
Two women who are going to be confirmed.
Bishop Robert Deeley prays over the people to be confirmed.
A gentleman stands next to his sponsor.
Bishop Deeley offers the sacrament of confirmation to an individual.
Bishop Deeley offers the sacrament of confirmation to an individual.
Bishop Deeley offers the sacrament of confirmation to Bob Grinnell.
Bishop Deeley offers the sacrament of confirmation to an individual.
Bishop Deeley offers the sacrament of confirmation to an individual.
Bishop Deeley offers the sacrament of confirmation to an individual.
Bishop Deeley offers the sacrament of confirmation to an individual.
Bishop Deeley offers the sacrament of confirmation to an individual.
Bishop Deeley offers the sacrament of confirmation to an individual.
Bishop Deeley offers the sacrament of confirmation to an individual.
Bishop Deeley offers the sacrament of confirmation to an individual.
The newly confirmed standing in the pews.
Bishop Deeley accepts the offertory gifts.
Liturgy of the Eucharist with the priests standing near the sanctuary.
Deacon Dennis Popadak presents to the chalice during holy Communion to one of the newly confirmed.
Deacon Dennis Popadak presents to the chalice during holy Communion to one of the newly confirmed.
All the newly confirmed pose with the bishop.