First Holy Communion Retreat


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.  fcr11

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.

6 thoughts on “First Holy Communion Retreat

  1. I will be sending extra prayers for Jenna and her family!
    The video will be a good idea, and Jenna will know she is helping to make her mom a part of her special day.

    Your pictures always remind me that I should be taking more pictures of my Sunday School class…(I SHOULD know better)!

    I understand how you feel about being a part of your class, but I promise you…You definitely are a part of their lives and are teaching them so many “life lessons”…your love, enthusiasm, always thinking of others…I could go on and on, but please know you are always “participating”! Remember those students are always listening and watching! So…give yourself a pat on the back for me!
    Prayers and hugs!

  2. Sweet! I love the joy and innocence of your students’ faces. I pray that they will always keep their hearts close to the Heart of Jesus.

    I will be praying for Jenna’s family.

    And you. If something truly needs to be done, it will get done. I’m glad you enjoyed the retreat and got some rest afterwards.


  3. I will be praying for Jenna and her family… I am a friend of Rowena’s and I have been where Jenna’s mom is… I know that the road will be hard for all involved but I do believe that faith and the power of prayer helped me through it all. Now almost 5 years later, I have a beautiful healthy son. He will be 5 in about 3 weeks. If Jenna’s mom would like to talk, I am happy to listen… I will be praying daily and thank you for all you are doing for Jenna and all the students in your class.

  4. I understand you wishing for more energy, but look at what you did accomplish. You attended the whole retreat, you taught at the retreat, you attended mass, you took beautiful photos, AND you shared them with us. My guess is that you might have appreciated this day even more than most of the ones in the past. That is quite an accomplishment for one day!

    I agree with Harriet. You have touched their lives this year as much or more than they have touched yours.

    Enjoy your week, enjoy your flowers, enjoy the sunshine, fresh breezes, your children, your husband, your family, your friends, your life! Worry about next week then. Appreciate this week now.

    Peace, prayers and patience.

  5. Elizabeth does not just touch the children’s lives but the families’ lives. She has now have taught both of my boys and helped guide them along their faith journey!

    The missing rosary did show up in the dryer. I promised Dell that Fr.’s blessing was not washed away when it went through the wash cycle!

  6. What a beautiful experience to share. You really have a gift with telling the stories. I am struck by how beautiful the children are.

    I have been involved in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd since 1989. There is nothing like it. We just began a Level I training here in the diocese in February. We have 22 people from 13 parishes and schools. I am so excited and am working hard to get all the level one materials made. In addition, I am trying to raise enough money to remodel a section of the media center to include an atrium so that we can have a place for people to come and see the experience. It’s the best way to help people understand the power of the experience.

    Will visit Michigan for my nieces wedding July 4 and hope to connect with your parents before we head to Fordham for my studies this summer.

    I will pray for Jenna and her mom also. How sad for them. You are on my special prayer list for your upcoming surgery.

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