by Kate Devlin, Lower School Assistant Principal
Seeing the glow of having experienced God’s grace on second graders’ faces as they process back to their pew after receiving First Communion is one of my favorite memories each year. The preparation process for First Communion is a true community affair, and if Holy Trinity is known for one thing, it is known for its strong community.
Families are the foremost teachers when it comes to being a child’s educator. When HTS parent, Cait Crivella, reflected back on the experience from last year, she recollected, “Last year, my son, Connor, received his First Communion at Holy Trinity. It was something our entire family prepared for and looked forward to for months. There was the preparation work they did in Faith Formation with Ms. McGowan, the workbook and discussions we partnered on together at home, picking out the perfect outfit and inviting all the grandparents to take part in the special day.” As the Saturday Vigil Mass last week concluded, the 8-and-9-year-old joy and that of their families was palpable. Family had traveled from near and far to honor this momentous occasion. One of our second graders wore her grandmother’s First Communion dress; these sacred traditions represent the strength of the Catholic faith and Catholic family.
At home and school, meaningful conversations were had to prepare the students for receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. In the week leading up to the students’ First Communion, one traditional school day was replaced by a First Communion Retreat, planned by their Faith Formation teacher, Ms. McGowan. She planned a day that perfectly balanced the weighty nature of receiving a sacrament and the fun that comes with being a 2nd grader about to celebrate something wonderful. Students completed a craft representing how Jesus is in the Eucharist; they played a game of B-I-N-G-O with the topics relating to what they see in their church; they read and reflected on how Jesus nourishes us and gives us life. The students also received the opportunity to consume an unconsecrated host and practice the process with reverence.
Christina Duffy, a parent of a Holy Trinity third grader, noted, “What struck me most about the process was the overwhelming feeling of joy and ease at each celebration.” Those feelings are the end result of preparation by the children themselves, their families, our 2nd grade teacher, Megan McGowan, and Holy Trinity’s Pastoral Associate for Faith Formation, Anne Marie Kaufmann. It is collaboration and a true team effort with love at the core of every action.
Though we are on the other side of it, the pandemic does give us an additional appreciation for gathering together on occasions like this. Cait Crivella poignantly noted that her son’s grade “had been through a lot. Covid lockdown hit the Spring of their kindergarten year. We felt like we had missed so many big events - Christmas shows, field days, birthday parties, normal holidays. However, as we celebrated this sacrament of initiation with our kids, things were just as we had hoped. The circumstances magnified the wonderful church community we have and that their journey is just beginning.”