Last Saturday all the children who will be making their First Holy Communion at St. Ann’s on May 9th got together for a morning of learning, creating and praying.
There are 31 First Communicants, 19 from my class and the rest homeschooled and from our parish’s Catholic school. It’s always a more cohesive group than I remember the CCD kids vs. the Catholic school kids being when I grew up.
But before I forget, we need to pray especially hard for Jenna, the girl in pink above. She brought her whole rosary collection to the retreat to show me! The very next day her mom, who is 27 weeks pregnant with baby # 3, got admitted to the hospital with rupture of membranes. I talked to her dad this morning when he brought Jenna to class, and mom and baby are hanging in there, but will be on hospital bedrest for a LONG time, we hope. Obviously mom will not be able to come to the First Holy Communion next week, so we gave the family lots of options… dad chose (and our pastor agreed!!) to have Jenna celebrate with the rest of her class but have a live video sent to mom in the hospital.
Back to the retreat. Usually there are LOTS of kids in my class who have limited English skills or are not reading yet. Coloring seems to transcend these barriers… This year we had more good readers and better English skills than ever before, but we kept the coloring stations at the retreat… Someday I want to change our whole system to Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, which will be so much better for all of these children, but that’s beyond the subject of the retreat and will certainly never happen under our current pastor!
Everyone’s favorite station was banner making… there’s something about paint and hands that is universally happy.
I wish we had more time for crafts in our regular class… I shouldn’t even get started on this train of thought!!!
Lots of moms get involved with this day… and I think it’s so valuable to have my homeschooling friends and my school-schooling friends together to share their skills.
George’s Godmother even came to help out, even though she doesn’t have a First Communicant this year. She’s Danielle, sitting at the head of the snack table.
My very favorite table to observe is the one at which the kids write a letter to Jesus. The students usually let me read over their shoulders, and their words are so beautiful I always have to work hard so that they can’t see me get all misty.
The letters get rolled and tied, and taken up in the offertory procession. I wish we could hang on to them and give them back to the students when they are preparing for Confirmation in eighth grade.
It was such a fun and happy morning. Not being able to participate fully (OK, let’s be honest… not being able to participate much at all…) this year with my class has been one of the hardest parts of my cancer treatment. This morning I taught and then went right to Mass, and I think I’m going to have to be on the couch the entire rest of the day. I get so sad that I don’t have enough energy to do all the things I need to do, and I get stressed and scared when I think about how it’s going to get worse with my impending surgery… but today let’s worry about Jenna, her mom and her baby instead.
Next week, First Holy Communion photos. I LOVE First Holy Communion photos.