During the month of May, more than 3,000 young boys and girls throughout the Diocese of Venice will take part in the Sacrament of the Eucharist for the first time.
At St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, the First Communion group of 86 children was so large that two Masses were needed on May 6, 2023.
The girls in white dresses and boys in suits or white shirts with ties solemnly came forward as they reached this important milestone in their spiritual journey of faith. Sitting behind the First Communicants were their parents who beamed with joy.
Before Mass, the children were given final instructions by the catechists, told to clasp their hands together in prayer and then processed into the Church in two lines, boys and girls.
During his homily, Father Wilner Durosier, CS, Administrator of St. Michael Parish, explained the idea of the miracle of the Eucharist to the First Communicants. “It is through a miracle Jesus turned mere bread into the Body of Christ. This is why your priest will say: ‘The Body of Christ’ when giving you the Eucharist each time.”
Father Durosier asked the children if they recall in the lessons about the Last Supper, when Jesus turned bread into His Body, to make sure everyone knows He is there all of the time for everyone who receives Him.
“Jesus gave Himself over to us. Take advantage of the gift Jesus has made available for us at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,” Father continued. “Jesus is always there, waiting for you to return. While today you receive your First Communion, I pray that today will be the beginning of many, many Communions so that your heart may always, like today, be festive and full of joy and above all be blessed. Jesus will be waiting for you.”
The children at St. Michael also consecrated themselves to Mary after receiving their First Communion. After the Mass, a group picture was taken and the children proudly stood for individual photos with Father Durosier.
One of the girls, Gabriella, said she was nervous about receiving Jesus in the weeks leading up to her First Communion but was comforted when one of the women religious who serve at the Parish comforted her by saying that if she wasn’t ready, she could wait until she felt she was truly prepared to allow Jesus to become a greater part of her life.
“I am so happy right now,” Gabriella said after the Mass. “I love Jesus so much.”
Similar scenes have taken place at other Parishes in the Diocese or will occur throughout the month. At Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park, the First Communion Mass was also on May 6. There, each child first gathered in the Parish Hall and processed to the church together before coming forward to receive their First Communion while on a kneeler.
At San Marco Parish, in Marco Island, the First Communion was incorporated into the Mass for the Fifth Sunday of Easter on May 7. While there were only 10 First Communicants, the importance for the children, parents, and Holy Mother Church was no less significant.
During a 2019 trip to Bulgaria, Pope Francis told First Communicants how the Lord wants them to share the joy of the Eucharist with others.
“Making your First Communion shows that you want to be closer to Jesus every day, to grow in friendship with Him and to lead other people to share in the joy He wants us to feel,” the Holy Father said. “The Lord needs you because He wants to work the miracle of bringing His joy to many of your friends and family members.”
The 3,000-plus First Communions taking place in the Diocese of Venice throughout May occur during a time of a National Eucharistic Revival. This revival is a three-year effort of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to reinforce the devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane spoke during a March 2023 Eucharistic Congress in Fort Myers, held as part of the National Eucharistic Revival, before groups of teens and adults about the importance of the Holy Eucharist in the life of every Catholic, from the youngest who receive their First Communion to the oldest.
“It is in a precise way in the Eucharist, the Lord is given to us, and we receive Him… Put yourself in a relationship with Jesus Christ, through the Eucharist. It is Christ. It is His Body and Blood. It is His Real Presence!” Bishop Dewane said. “Let His Real Presence in the Eucharist fill your heart, fill your mind, fill your soul with His indication of what it is He wants from you and for you to do in your life.”
Please pray for all children receiving their First Holy Communion during May, that they love the Lord with all their hearts and forever live faithfully.