As we are getting closer to Holy Week, Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday, we are also approaching the weekend for First Communion celebrations. First Communion will happen the weekend of April 18th. I am starting to get questions about First Communion, so I guess it’s a good time to put something into a bulletin letter.
As I was informed about our sacraments programs soon after my arrival, we had to discuss how to handle first sacraments, given that we have three campuses. I learned that it would be impossible to fit all of our first communicants, with their families and friends into any one of our normally scheduled weekend Masses. I also learned that we have had comments from people at various campuses who would very much enjoy seeing First Communion happen, because they never make it to the specially scheduled Masses we have usually have–wholly devoted to our first communicants and their families and friends. I thought of what I have seen work at my last parish: We allowed parents to bring their First Communion candidates to whatever Mass they normally attend, instead of scheduling a totally separate Mass.
Early last fall Theresa Conley and I had a meeting with all of the parents of First Communion candidates, and it was explained that we were going to have First Communion at each of the Masses on the weekend of April 18, allowing families to go to the Mass they normally attend. This seemed to be well received. We have also gotten a number of positive comments since that introductory meeting. Furthermore, it ends up being quite a positive thing for the whole community, because all of our parishioners on that weekend – at all the Masses – end up getting to witness some of our youngest members receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time. As you know, this is quite a life-giving experience for all of us to see. I know Jesus is certainly looking forward to the event! So is the parish as a whole. Imagine the grace of having another group of children among us who are more divinely empowered by the Eucharist. Imagine the extra grace coming into each of their homes.
Back in January, on consecutive Monday nights at each of our campuses, children prepared for First Confession received that sacrament in preparation for First Communion in April. That included our Divine Mercy School children as well. Our PSR teachers, parents and the children themselves have been working very hard all year to prepare for First Communion. The program seems quite alive and well.
On the morning of Saturday, April 18, First Communion preparation will culminate with a retreat for parents and their First Communicants. The retreat will consist of some prayer together, and a group question-and-answer session, so that I can see what the children know about the sacrament they will receive. I also hope to inspire them a little bit more in anticipation of receiving Jesus for the first time. Then I will spend time with the parents to talk about the sacrament and answer questions; simultaneously Theresa Conley and other PSR teachers and volunteers will lead the First Communicants through some retreat activities and prayer. We will take a whole class picture at the retreat.
At the Masses that weekend, everything should happen as normal for First Communion. The first communicants will be dressed up very nicely. We will have reserved seating for them and their families. First communicants will process in with the priest and servers at the beginning of Mass. They will receive Communion first. At the end of Mass, right after the recessional song, we will have induction into the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the blessing of any religious gift items they have received. [I can bless such items in upcoming days as well, if the children have gifts they receive later in the weekend.]
So there’s an advance on the First Communion weekend plan, and some insight into all the work that already has been happening as part of the First Communion program of preparation. I think the weekend should work nicely. It will be refreshing for all of the parishioners that weekend to get to witness this awesome event. Please keep our first communicants and their families in prayer in these last weeks of preparation. And thanks in advance for all that prayer!
Have a blessed weekend!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,