Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"INTO MY HEART"– FIRST HOLY COMMUNION AT ST. THERESE

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"INTO MY HEART"–FIRST HOLY COMMUNION AT ST. THERESE

By: Myra D'souza

NORTHERN ARABIAN VICARIATE, APRIL 23, 2013:  On Friday, April 19, 2013, one hundred and forty eight children from the parish of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in the Northern Arabian Vicariate received their First Holy Communion.  "Into my heart" was appropriately selected as the theme for this momentous service.

<![if !vml]><![endif]>Holy Mass was celebrated by Fr. Blany Pinto the Parish Priest along with Fr. Franco Pereira, Fr. Francis Kharjia, Fr. Lionel Braganza and a visiting priest Fr. Nelson D'Souza.  Joy and excitement was clearly visible on the faces of all the children who were dressed alike in long white robes as they entered into the church in procession.

Catechist Mark Robert welcomed the children, parents and family members. He narrated an edifying little <![if !vml]><![endif]>story about the young saint, Dominic Savio. At that time children were only allowed to receive their First Holy Communion at the age of eleven or twelve years old. However, since the young Dominic Savio was such a prayerful boy, special permission was obtained for him to receive First Holy Communion at the tender age of seven.  So great was his joy on hearing this news that he trembled with excitement and ran all the way home to tell his mother.

Fr. Blany was the main celebrant while Fr. Franco delivered the homily. In his homily, he addressed both parents and children. Speaking first to the parents, he encouraged them to keep in mind five simple points in helping their children grow in faith.
Read the Bible every day. 
Read the stories of the Lives of the Saints so the children can have real live heroes to emulate rather than celluloid ones.
Set aside time daily for family prayer – a sacred time where all gather before the altar at home to pray.
To teach by deed rather than by words because actions he said are far more convincing than mere talk.
Bless your children all the time and everyday so they will experience your love.

Fr. Franco spoke about St. Dominic Savio's great love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and how he had prepared himself by prayer and by reading holy books. He shared the resolutions Dominic Savio made on the occasion of his First Holy Communion and encouraged the children to try and live holy lives by imitating St. Dominic Savio.

The highlight of the Liturgical Celebration was when each child walked down the aisle to receive Jesus for the first time. This was another edifying and proud moment for parents to see their child walk up to the priest and receive their Eucharistic Lord. Interestingly we had a set of twin boys and twin girls receiving First Holy Communion this year.

The children's choir trained by Mr. Faustino sang hymns that were carefully chosen to celebrate the joy of <![if !vml]><![endif]>the occasion and draw all present, deeper into the celebration of the Liturgy. 
Those who had secured the highest marks in both tests and the Bible Study Quiz were chosen from each division to participate in the First and Second Reading, the General Intercessions and for the Offertory procession. This was a moment of pride not only for their parents but also for their catechism teachers.
 
Fr. Blany thanked everyone who had helped prepare the children, especially those who had worked tirelessly in the forefront and in the background to ensure everything went smoothly. 

After the final blessing, group photographs were taken with the children and the priests. This was followed <![if !vml]><![endif]>by distribution of the First Holy Communion Certificates to each child, accompanied by their parents and family members, which was handed to them by Fr. Blany.

A souvenir bag with a brand new Bible along with a white Rosary and a scapular was given to each child. Last but not least, following the spiritual banquet for the soul, the children were provided with snacks and a drink to fortify the body.

It was a beautiful day blessed with perfect weather made even more bright and beautiful with the joy of the children and their parents. After the Liturgical celebration the children went home with their parents to celebrate with family and friends while the rest of us who had prepared and served in different ways went home with glad hearts.

                
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