“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6, 35)
Last weekend across our parishes, we welcomed ninety eight children to feast at the table of the Lord for the first time. Parents, teachers, catechists and our parish community have prayerfully prepared and supported the students over the last twelve months as they have waited to receive their First Eucharist.
The preparation for the sacraments is an exciting time in a child’s faith journey. Throughout the children’s inquiry into the Sacraments they explore the communal and celebratory nature of the Eucharist. They examine the origins of the Eucharist in the Passover and the Last Supper. Children investigate the parts of the Mass and the symbols, signs and rituals. They are given the opportunity to consider the significance of the Mass in their own lives.
After a year of preparation, extended due to lockdowns over the last twelve months, our Year 5 students were finally able to receive First Eucharist last weekend. Although restrictions impacted the number of guests that were able to attend, what was created was an intimate and special celebration. Father Trac and Father Brendan led Masses at our three parish school churches and all candidates participated in the many aspects of the liturgy. The students presented themselves beautifully and were a credit to the schools and their families.
Students have taken time to share their reflections on the day and what receiving the Eucharist means to them.
The days leading up to communion I felt nervous and excited because we finally got to do it. My role in the Mass was to bring up the gospel book and the gifts. To me, the communion was special because the date had been postponed so many times because of COVID and we finally got to do it. Me and my family went out to a restaurant afterwards and celebrated with my whole family. Bianca, OLGC Student
On Saturday the 19th of June I made my First Eucharist. Eucharist to me means being one step closer to God. Father Trac talked about how little things matter, he talked about how we eat bread everyday but the body of Christ was special. Abby, OHR Student
The days leading up to Eucharist I felt nervous. The program before the actual Mass helped me a lot about understanding how to do everything right during the Mass. My role was reading a prayer of the faithful. I think I did great reading in front of everyone and I loved it! For me, to receive the bread for the first time, I felt like it was very special especially because it had been cancelled several times due to COVID-19. After the Mass my family and I went to dinner with our family friends. Their daughter was meant to be doing it with me but because of the restrictions she had to do it on Saturday and I did it on Sunday at 1.00 pm. We also had cake and my grandad came to my Mass which was exciting. Eucharist has helped me grow in my faith because I understand more about Jesus and the bible, how to receive the bread and I feel happy when I go to Mass. I know I will always receive something that is very special for me. Neve, OLGC Student
I felt closer to God after the Eucharist Mass. I loved seeing everyone there and being able to do it with my friends. Eucharist to me means that I am following in God’s footsteps and getting closer to God. Pia, OHR Student
I felt excited when we were finally able to do our Eucharist celebration because it was postponed a lot of times because of COVID-19 but we could finally do it! Before it started I was a little nervous that I would muck up something. But fortunately, it all went well. I had the role of reading a prayer of the faithful. When I received the bread I felt that I was part of the holy spirit more. After the Mass, I celebrated with my family by going to a restaurant to eat. I feel that I became more faithful because I finally understood what the bread and wine symbolised and I could finally be part of it. Siyana, OLGC Student
On Saturday the 19th of June I received my first Eucharist. I have been waiting for this for 1 year. I was a little nervous but I was also happy. Before the Mass I had photos with all my friends. We processed in together and and it was a little weird because everyone was dressed up but it also felt special. During the Mass I had to do a reading, it had shared a very important message about being kind and spreading the word of the Lord. After the Mass my family and friends went to a park and had some treats. Lucy, OHR Student
I felt very happy and excited but a little nervous because I was reading a very special part of the Mass and I was getting one step closer to God. It was a big day and at the end I was happy. We celebrated by having a relative over and having lunch together with a delicious cake. Henry, OHR Student
Last Saturday on the 19th of June I made my first Eucharist. I had been waiting for this day for about 1 year now. It was a big moment for me. I had butterflies in my stomach. I felt like I was one step further to God. After I had read I was pretty relieved. Eucharist means to me that I receive the body of Christ. Afterwards my family celebrated by going out for dinner. Remy, OHR Student
It was a wonderful day for each and every child, with smiles all around, and sighs of relief from all those involved in the planning and preparation that we had finally crossed the finish line. We congratulate all of the communicants on making this step in their faith journey and we make a “small step of love” as we pray for the children who celebrated the Sacrament of First Eucharist last weekend.
“We choose love by taking small steps of love every time there is an opportunity. A smile, a handshake, a word of encouragement, a phone call, an embrace, a kind greeting, a gesture of support, a moment of attention, a helping hand, a visit, a financial contribution all these are little steps towards love. Each step is a candle burning in the night. It does not take the darkness away but it guides us through the darkness.” – Henri Nouwen
Let us continue to be a community that makes “small steps of love.”
Thank you to Nick Byrne, REL and students at OHR Primary School, Hayley Dunstow, REL and students at OLGC Primary School, Annie Engellenner, Principal at OLPS for their contributions to this article.
By Sally McIntosh and Kirsten Italiano