Yesterday was Good Shepherd Sunday, World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and Father Kevin Abels the Associate Vocation Director of the Diocese was here to speak at all the Masses. Father Kevin had been here for the first five years of his priesthood and left only a year ago so he was ever so warmly welcomed back by the people. It was also the first Sunday in May and many of the children who had received Holy Communion for the first time the previous day returned for the procession at the 10:30 am Mass. They were joined by our soon-to-be graduates two of whom had the honor of placing the garland on the Statue of the Blessed Mother we had set up in the sanctuary. The Rosary Society was also at the Mass which was followed by their annual Communion Breakfast.
As I mentioned, Saturday was the first of three Masses at which about 40 children at each Mass would receive Jesus for the very first time. This year the children were presented by their parents or other family members. More than one couple or parent became overwhelmed by what Bishop Thomas Daily referred to as "the Great Emotion." In the past, the children came up in procession one by one and my whole attention was on them and their experience of receiving Jesus. I remember it becoming almost trance like for me, with all the other 'stuff' going on in the church around me completely beyond my comprehension. The parents presenting their children was a distraction for me but I think it was nicer for them and for the children.
I always invite the rest of the congregation to try to remember their own First Communions and focus on the emotions that they may have experienced that day. It is such a day of blessing for the entire parish! This Saturday we have a morning and afternoon Mass and by the time the third Mass is finished 120 or so children will have received Jesus. What a parish!