Last Sunday five children celebrated their First Holy Communion, received Eucharist for the first time. Watching children grow and develop is awe inspiring, hopeful and gratifying. Having baptized several of the candidates, it is awe inspiring to see parents coach, nurture, parent and walk the journey of faith with their sons and daughters. It takes patience, creativity and good dialogue to help keep them on track, attending religious education when they are four and five, enrolling in C.R.E.A.T.E in first grade and coming back in second grade to learn more about Jesus and the sacraments they are going to receive, e.g. Reconciliation and Eucharist. Filled with youthful enthusiasm, their teachers wonder at times if they are paying any attention to what they are trying to teach in the classroom. Lo and behold they are paying attention, learning their prayers, most importantly coming to Mass and developing an attitude of openness to faith and Jesus’ presence in their lives.
It is hopeful that their parents want the best for them, not only in school, sometimes in sports, but also in their faith life which takes commitment and determination. Hope is passing on the faith that even parents grapple with in their struggles to explain the Catholic faith to their children. It is gratifying when these same children get all dressed up in their Sunday best and come together with family and friends at the First Communion Mass and walk up with open hands to receive the life of the Lord. I am grateful for their catechist, Mrs. Healy and Mrs. Votaw who taught them in first grade, and for their parents who supported them the whole way.
This community of faith went out of their way after Mass last Sunday to complement and congratulate them recognizing each child for this next step on their faith journey. We extend congratulations and blessings to: Caitlynn Bradley, Franchesca Nocero, Max Rashkis, Gustavo Rivera, and Rita Thomas.
In a real sense as we hear in this Sunday’s Gospel, they are beginning to understand that Jesus is their shepherd, who knows their names and, in turn, they too, can respond to his voice. Getting to know Jesus will help them every day as they move forward in their lives. He is their friend, and always their shepherd.
Easter Blessings – Father Larry