First Holy Communions
Today we celebrated a very joyful occasion: the reception for the first time of Holy Communion by 13 of our young parishioners.
Here's a video of some of the photos:
Just a few words of explanation: at the offertory, a tradition that I inherited when I came here 7+ years ago was that each child brings up a host in a beautifully prepared (by one of our parishioners) folded tissue 'basket' and the hosts are placed in the paten for the Offertory and Consecration, symbolising the offering of each one being made into one offering, as the grains of wheat are ground to become one loaf.
We had an enjoyable 'question and answer' in the homily which some of the children rose to.
At the end of Mass, Catarina Beresford, the children's catechist, was surprised - and embarrassed - to be presented with a token of appreciation by Tim Shamoon on behalf of the parents. Tim had - quite properly - asked my permission beforehand, but also took the opportunity of surprising me with a presenation as well. Thanks to all the parents for their kindness!
Our parish primary school head teacher Mrs Elizabeth Willis appears in one of the photographs together with Mrs Rufina Ebenebe, the school's RE co-ordinator whose son made his First Communion today, and Year 1 teacher Mrs Anya Chapman who kindly attended too.
Five of the children attend our parish primary school and two attend the other Catholic primary school in the town. The others attend community schools local to the part of Ashford they live in. I do make it a condition for reception of First Holy Communion that the children have already been attending Mass regularly on Sundays for at least a year beforehand. Sadly, few of our school families meet that expectation. It is, after all, the parents' primary right and duty to educate their children in the faith. They cannot sub-contract out this duty to the parish primary school or parish catechist. We can only assist them, not take over their responsibility.
One parishioner commented after the Mass that one of the reasons she found the Mass so beautiful was that all the children and their families were known as regulars in the parish. It was really a truly parish community celebration.
A number of the children are of Polish extraction and many Polish relatives were present at the Mass. It is good to see the Polish people playing a full and active part in the parish, in common with those from other nations and ethnic groups.
The choir, who don't appear in any of the photos, deserve a special mention. They had already sung at the 10am Mass and stayed on for the special extra Mass arranged at 12noon for the First Communions. My thanks to them for preparing so well and supporting the singing. This was particularly appreciated as there were many present who were not parishioners and who may not have been used to our repertoire, and also many from abroad who would not have been able to sing in English. It sounded throughout as if the whole congregation was participating fully.
The atmosphere of joy and gratitude was quite remarkable. Thanks be to God!
Labels: First Holy Communion