FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- About 15 community teens completed a third and final sacrament of initiation into the Catholic church Monday night.

Bishop Richard Higgins, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, provided oversight during the ceremony at the Main Post Chapel.

Bishops are the only religious leaders allowed to perform the ceremony at military Catholic parishes around the world, said installation Senior Catholic Chaplain (Capt.) Sean Magnuson.
Confirmation follows two other sacraments of initiation - baptism and communion - Higgins said. The first two are traditionally performed when individuals are infants and young children, respectively.

As they approach adulthood, confirmation "equips (youth) to enter into adult life as committed, energetic witnesses of the gospel," said Higgins, a retired Air Force colonel.

The process also commits youth to live by Catholic principles and standards, he noted.

Having bishops present to perform confirmation ceremonies is special because their authority descends directly from past biblical leaders, Magnuson said.

"It's a big honor. Bishops are the successors of the apostles (like) Peter and Paul," he said.

Sixteen-year-olds Zack, Matt and Emily Davis are triplets who participated in the confirmation process.

The siblings said they felt honored to have a role model like Higgins present for this giant step in their spiritual lives.

"He's really close to God, and he lives his life for what God would want him to do," Matt said.
He noted attending special religious classes every Sunday and studying biblical material to reach this point was challenging but appreciated going through the experience with his brother and sister.

"It was easier to do it together. If we had questions, we could ask each other," Matt said.
Higgins performs similar ceremonies around the eastern United States and Europe year-round. He is one of three AMS bishops to visit more than 150 military installations annually. Higgins said he's personally on the road about 200 days each year. Besides overseeing confirmation ceremonies, bishops also conduct pastor visits during their tours.

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