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 CNS Story:

CONFIRMATION-US Apr-29-2013 (640 words) With photos. xxxi

Last step to confirmation by pope was nerve-wracking, U.S. teens say

Two teenagers from the United States, Anthony Merejo, 17, and Brigid Miniter, 14, walk forward to receive the sacrament of confirmation from Pope Francis during a Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 28. The pope confirmed 44 people, including the two teens from Ridgewood, N.J. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Both Brigid Miniter and Anthony Merejo said the last step -- literally the last step -- they took to their confirmation was the one that made them nervous.

"My heart skipped a beat," said Merejo, the 17-year-old from Ridgewood, N.J., who was one of 44 people Pope Francis confirmed April 28.

Miniter, a 14-year-old who is also from Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Ridgewood, said she was fine "until I got to the step right before I was anointed."

They had been informed in February, "a couple days after Pope Benedict resigned," that his successor would be confirming them, Miniter said. "We didn't know who the pope was going to be, but we were excited regardless."

Long before she was picked to go to Rome, Miniter had chosen St. Francis of Assisi as her confirmation saint. She said her grandfather and father are particularly devoted to the saint, whom she finds appealing for his humility. "I love animals," she added, "and he's the patron saint of animals, so it was a no-brainer."

"It was one thing just to be picked and get this opportunity," Miniter said, "but it was a whole other level" when the new pope chose Francis as his name, too.

"He reminds me of St. Francis," she said. "By his smile you could tell how kind he was. Even though he doesn't speak much English, it felt like you were talking to him with his smile."

Merejo and Miniter were among 224 young people in the 2013 confirmation class at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Their peers are being confirmed at three Masses May 10-11 and Brigid said, "I get to bring this experience back to them so they can kind of live it through me."

"It's an honor just to get confirmed," she said. "And by the pope -- that's amazing."

Merejo said he was relaxed at the Mass until he realized "I'm going to be face-to-face with Pope Francis."

He said he saw a photograph of himself walking back to his seat and his mouth is open, "just in shock because I couldn't believe that this just actually happened."

Msgr. Ronald J. Rozniak, the pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, chose Miniter's and Merejo's names out of a hard hat. He said his parish program tries to ensure that each of the young people -- most of whom are 14 or 15 years old -- makes his or her own decision to be confirmed.

Merejo said, "I just really didn't get to it" during his freshman year of high school. Later, though, he decided he wanted to be confirmed, partly to encourage his two older sisters to do the same.

"I was happy to be confirmed at Mount Carmel," he said, "but when I heard the news of going to Rome, meeting the Holy Father, seeing all the sights in Rome," it was "overwhelming. It was like a dream."

Merejo did not pick his confirmation name as early as many of his classmates did. Finally, he was given a book on the saints by the parish youth minister, Glen McCall, who accompanied the two Ridgewood teens to Rome.

The young man said he looked for a name that not many people choose and a name that sounds nice in English and Spanish. He came across the name "Ignatius-Ignacio," started reading about the founder of the Jesuits and settled on that for his confirmation name.

Merejo said he thought it was a "pretty cool" coincidence that the pope who confirmed him turned out to be a Jesuit.

The young man, whose family is from the Dominican Republic, spoke to Pope Francis in Spanish "to show him the United States has lots of Hispanics."

"The only thing is, the Mass went by too fast," he said. "I just wanted to savor every moment I could."


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