GREENVILLE — Spring has arrived in Rhode Island and that means many young adults are receiving the sacrament of confirmation. Confirmation is a special time for young adults and their families. It is the culmination of their religious teachings up to that point and marks a point of independence and progression through their religious education. Parents become an important figure in fostering lifelong faith for their children.
Nicole and Marco Giacobbe and their five children are active members of St. Philip Parish in Greenville. Their two oldest daughters, Francesca and Isabella, have received the sacrament of confirmation while their third daughter Anna is currently embarking on her confirmation journey.
Nicole’s upbringing shaped how she viewed her daughter’s confirmation.
“I didn’t have a good confirmation experience,” she said. “We had class once per week at someone’s home, but most people did not have an interest in being there. My cousin was a great sponsor and spent a lot of time with me, stressing the importance of the sacraments and bringing the faith alive for me.”
“Other than my cousin, I was alone during the whole confirmation process,” she added.
At St. Philip Parish, the vibrant community and strong parenting set an example for Francesca, Isabella and Anna of what is important during confirmation. The St. Philip community is also tightly knit and provides a safe environment for young people to discover a deeper meaning of faith.
“I have complete confidence in all the people that are a part of the confirmation program,” Nicole said. “We all know each other’s kids and there is a real atmosphere of trust. It is a special vocation to minister to children and everyone in our community is grateful for that dedication.”
The deeply involved confirmation program at St. Philip is bolstered by the consistent standard of safety established by the Diocese of Providence and Office of Compliance for the past 25 years.
The St. Philip program requires confirmation candidates to attend one Sunday “Life Night” per month. These events are popular so confirmation candidates often attend every week. Life Nights include a mass, social time, teaching time and often a guest speaker from outside the parish. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin spoke to the confirmation class at St. Philip in the past. Lastly, these sessions end with adoration in the church, group prayer and the leaders giving candidates challenges to complete during the week.
Nicole’s daughters filled the service portion of their confirmation experience by singing and reading at Mass and volunteering at a Bible Camp over the summer.
This active style of preparing young people for confirmation has been successful in addition to what Nicole stresses to her daughters at home.
“This program is not like a class,” Nicole noted. “Father Ryan and Melissa Roberts at the Religious Education Office sit down with the leadership team monthly (a group of kids who are applying and are selected to be the voice of kids in each parish) to discuss what they can do better with the confirmation program to attract more candidates.”
Nicole’s parenting style has always been to show not tell.
“If you want them to serve others, then I will serve others. If you want them to pray, pray with them,” she said. “I will never force them to attend Youth Ministry events. I want them to want to attend those events for their own personal gain.”
“Church will always be mandatory in my house though,” she added with a chuckle.
The young adult years are important for laying the foundations for a life of faith. The dynamic program at St. Philip Parish has been perfect for Nicole Giacobbe’s three daughters to grow in their own faith in a safe, supportive environment. Her goal in parenting three distinct personalities was to lead them to a path of independence in their religious lives by showing them the way.