In recent weeks, a group of second graders from Saint Rose of Lima in Short Hills said, “I’m ready” to Jesus as they prepared to receive First Communion. It was a beautiful sunny day for the occasion, which was marked by little suits, dresses, and of course, facemasks worn by the 7-year-olds.
“Second grade is crucial because they’re just ready,” said Louann Carangelo, a teacher at St. Rose of Lima Academy. “Oh, they’re ready. We eat, live, and breathe religion in second grade. They’re going to hold that host in their hand and they’re going to stop, and they’re going to feel it in their mind and their heart and they’re going to say, ‘welcome Jesus, I’m ready for you now.’”
Msgr. Robert E. Harahan, pastor of Saint Rose of Lima, said it was a very special day for the parish.
“Our kids have waited since last March to make their First Communion,” he said. “It’s very special to celebrate with the children, with their families, grandparents and friends. Miss Carangelo was especially helpful and devoted in preparing our kids.”
Carangelo described 7-years-old as a beautiful time.
“It’s rainbows and colors,” she said. “It’s this willingness to love unconditionally, but then to stop and question and want answers which are so exciting because you’re starting to think about things in such a bigger way.”
Carangelo said it truly is a gift watching each little child’s faith grow and that she gets the chills when she prays with them.
“I feel Jesus in me when I see Him in my room,” she said. “When I see Him with the children, I know He’s there. I feel Him with me. I just say we’re on a faith journey and we’re on it together. And I feel that. I can cry just saying it because it is truly my honor because I feel that they feed my spirit as much as I am feeding theirs. When I’m teaching about Jesus and all he gave up and all he did, I’m filling my spirit myself.”
First Holy Communion is accepting Jesus into your body, into your heart knowing that now he is a part of you, Carangelo added.
“Their journey brought them to this moment where they now hold Jesus in the palm of their hand,” she continued. “We’re saying, ‘Jesus, now my mind and my body is ready for you to come into me,’ and now he’s inside us because we’re ready.”
“When we stop and we just say, ‘In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen,’ I say, ‘Stop. Do you even know what that means?’” Carangelo continues as she makes the sign of the Cross. “‘You’re saying God is in my Mind. Jesus is in my heart and the Holy Spirit is wrapped around me. That’s what you’re doing. That’s what you’re saying.’ And once you put those things together everything is a blessing.”
This article is based on the above video entitled “First Communion Day” by Sean McCourt/Courtesy of Saint Rose of Lima in Short Hills.