29-April-2013 -- ZENIT.org News Agency |

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New Jersey Youth Confirmed by Pope Say It Was Like Winning 'Catholic Lottery'

Young Confirmands Express Hopes to Share Life-Changing Experience

By Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME, April 29, 2013 (Zenit.org) - "Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord. This is the secret of our journey!" These words were spoken by Pope Francis to Confirmation candidates during yesterday's ‘Day of Confirmands' Mass held in St. Peter's Square.

The highlight of the Year of Faith event was a group of youth from around the world who received the sacrament of Confirmation from the Holy Father. Among the 44 young "confirmandi", two youth from Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Ridgewood, New Jersey, had the distinct honor to represent the North American candidates.

Anthony Merejo, 17, and Brigid Miniter, 14, were chosen by Newark Archbishop John J. Myers at the invitation of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization,

Archbishop Myers noted the presence of the two youth as a "significant honor" for the Archdiocese of Newark.

"For them, and for all of us, their Confirmations in St. Peter's Square demonstrate in a very public way the depth of faith of young people throughout the Church, especially here in New Jersey," Archbishop Myers said.

Both youth spoke with ZENIT on their experience in being present at the ‘Day of Confirmands' event in Rome.

Describing his opportunity to meet the Holy Father, Merejo said it was a "dream come true."

"It was just a feeling that I could never explain. It was amazing when he greeted us and kissed us on the cheek," he said. "It was just amazing."

At the end of the celebration, the candidates were given the chance to greet the Holy Father. Speaking in Spanish, Merejo greeted Pope Francis: "Your Holiness, thank you so much and we're waiting for you in the United States." The Holy Father shook his hand, smiled and continued greeting the confirmation candidates. "it was great to shake his hand and talk to him for a quick second," he said.

The Ridgewood native described the event as a "life changing experience." Merejo said that upon his return home, he hopes to show the youth of his parish "how amazing the Catholic religion is and how important it is to be faithful" to the Church.

Miniter shared similar sentiments regarding her experience at the Mass. She told ZENIT that she jumped when she received news from her parents that she was one of the candidates selected to represent North America. "I thought that we won the lottery and my mom said ‘Well you won the Catholic lottery.'"

Regarding the Confirmation Mass, the teenager said she was particularly moved by meeting the diverse group of Confirmation candidates from around the world as well as seeing the thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Mass. "It was just amazing looking out and seeing the most people I've seen in my life," she said.

Miniter stated that she would be attending the Confirmation Masses of all her friend's back in New Jersey to bring back her experience in participating at the Year of Faith event in Rome. "It's going to be great because I'm not only representing myself -- I'm also representing my family, my whole parish, everybody."

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