Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the joy of the Easter Season, we discover so many signs of new life.
This weekend several of our families will join other parishes at the cathedral to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation. Next weekend, we’ll celebrate the First Holy Communion of many of our young brothers and sisters. And for the next several months, we’ll be celebrating the marriages of couples as they make their way down the aisle. All of this is in addition to the many baptisms of our littlest and newest members. Signs of life all around us!
While most of us may not recall our own baptism, chances are we do have a strong recollection of our First Holy Communion. I fondly remember mine. A beautiful Saturday morning – May 7, 1977 – with full sun and warmth greeting us as we piled out of our family car and headed into the church. Even this second grader couldn’t help but take note of the solemn tone set for us. Perhaps the new white shirt helped, as did the huge floral arrangements present in the sanctuary. The sea of girls, usually recognizable only in their blue and grey plaid jumpers and now dressed in white gowns, reinforced a sense of youthful purity as we approached our Eucharistic Lord for the first time. Although lacking a deeper theological comprehension, I knew this was the day the Lord has made…and I found myself rejoicing. “I get to receive Jesus today!”
Fast forward to May, 1983. Another day filled with awe for an 8th Grader about to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Celebrated in the same church with many of the same classmates with whom I made my First Communion six years prior. Instead of white being the prevailing color, the church was engulfed with red flowers, red banners, red vestments, and even red flames on our knee-length gowns. Definitely a suitable color as burgeoning teenagers were beginning to discover our passions for the world around us. Older and more aware, I received a glimpse of understanding how this occasion was related to that day in June of 1969 when Mom and Dad presented their third child at the baptismal font.
I am grateful to my dear parents for introducing me to this beautiful Faith and patiently forming my siblings and me in all those years between the baptisms, First Eucharists, and confirmations. No, they weren’t perfect parents – nor perfect human beings – but examples of their faithfulness and love are abundant, too many to count. In the spirit of transparency, however, I do confess that I’m a bit biased.
I am also indebted to the parish priests, sisters and other teachers who formed me in the Faith, especially those who prepared us for the sacraments. Their genuine zeal was palpable and their personal witness made my Catholic faith jump out of textbooks and land upon my heart.
Like my father and mother, most of my grade school faculty and parish priests have been called home to the Lord. But how consoling it is to know that it is the same Holy Spirit and the same Holy Eucharist who binds us still today. In God’s time I look forward to celebrating an eternal Easter with those who were faithful shepherds in my life. For each of them, I am truly grateful.
In Christ Our Good Shepherd,