Spring is in the air, which often brings with it flowers blooming, weather warming, and kids and adults alike eager to shove off jackets and run around. But for those in the second grade at PA, spring also brings white dresses, small tuxedos, and excited relatives. In other words, the sacrament of First Communion is just around the corner. Over the winter, parishes prepare young congregants for their First Communion and typically celebrate the sacrament during the Easter season. The PA community shares in the excitement of this commemorative moment by guiding Catholic students in their steps toward this sacrament and by helping them to receive “Second” Communion here at PA.
Parents and teachers help students form a foundation for understanding the meaning and importance of the sacrament of First Communion. Mrs. Kesney McCarthy, parent of second grader Fallon McCarthy, reflected on how she helps her children prepare to receive Holy Communion for the first time, “As a parent, I consider it my job to help my children understand what the sacraments really mean and how we can apply them to our daily lives.”
Providence Academy intends to help students accomplish this very task. Second graders learn crucial elements of the sacraments in their religion class, focusing on Reconciliation the fall curriculum, and First Communion during the spring.
Second grade teacher Ms. Katie Bjorgaard elaborated, “We help our students prepare for their First Communion throughout the school year using our Religion curriculum, school Mass, classroom visits from Father McClellan, and in our day-to-day interactions and discussions.”
Father Michael McClellan, Chaplain at Providence, explained what is crucial to a student’s understanding about Holy Communion, “They need to understand how much Jesus loves them. I make it a habit to remind them that Jesus is always even more excited than them when they receive their First Communion.”
Father McClellan commented on how parents can guide their children in preparation for this sacrament, “Parents should model weekly reception of Holy Communion, making sure that their students go to Mass.”
But Providence Academy goes beyond teaching the students about First Communion. After Easter and throughout the month of May, Providence Academy invites students to take their official second communion in the chapel. Students who receive their First Communion at their parish over the weekend celebrate at school the following Monday with all the pomp and circumstance of a First Communion. Students are able to dress up in their First Communion outfits, partaking in the procession for the Mass, and receiving a blessing and prayer card. This year, a total of 31 students have celebrated their First Communion in this way at school.
Bjorgaard emphasized the joyful spirit that accompanies acknowledgement of First Communion at school, “We love getting to celebrate our First Communicants as a school family. It is a chance to congratulate and uplift each other, and it allows for more discussion about the Sacrament.”
The PA community actively supports the Catholic faith life, and as a result, students are encouraged in their faith in school in addition to church. McCarthy commented on the significance of this, “I think it helps children know they are surrounded by people that support them in their faith journey at school, home, and church. It’s an opportunity to share in a hopeful, loving tradition of our faith.”