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December 16, 2012 - January 5, 2013

We are never too old for confirmation At ages 82, 75 couple seeks sacrament

Father Stanley Rataj and Deacon Franco Foti assist Bishop Andrew Wypych as he confirms Robert and Bernadine Cameo at Our Lady of the Snows Parish, 4810 S. Leamington Ave. on Dec. 1. The couple, who are 82 and 75 respectively, decided it was time to receive the sacrament so made their confirmation together. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World

Karen Callaway / Catholic New World

By Michelle Martin


Robert and Bernadine Cameo were not your typical confirmation candidates when they showed up in Nancy Bishop’s adult confirmation class at St. George Parish in Tinley Park.

While the whole class is older than the young teens who typically receive the sacrament, the Cameos still had a few decades on them.

But that did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm.

“I just wanted my faith to be enriched and to be a better Catholic,” said Robert Cameo, 82. “Who wouldn’t want the Sacrament of the Holy Spirit?”

“This is something I feel very, very good about,” said Bernadine Cameo, 75.

Both were attending public schools in their youth at the ages when, in the normal course of things, they would have been confirmed. If their parishes offered confirmation classes for public school students, they weren’t aware of it at the time; in any case, they never went.

“We both just fell through the cracks,” Robert Cameo said.

Their two sons both were confirmed. One, Brian, was a resident of Misericordia, and both he and his brother, Michael, were prepared for the sacrament there. Both sons have since died, Robert Cameo said.

A niece served as their confirmation sponsor. Robert took the confirmation name Anthony after St. Anthony of Padua; Bernadine took the name Elizabeth, after Mary’s kinswoman.

Bernadine said she was originally concerned about being in class with “a bunch of kids,” but enjoyed the small adult class of five candidates.

“These are people we are going to remember for the rest of our lives,” she said.

Bishop said she thinks the class will remember the Cameos as well — and so will the young people who also were confirmed at Our Lady of the Snows that day.

“For two people at that age to come forward and say they want to be confirmed is special,” she said.

Once, an 80-year-old woman asked to be baptized, Bishop said, but this is different.

“Confirmation is a sacrament you can live without,” she said. “You still go to heaven. You can still receive other sacraments.”