When the church celebrates the First Communion of their children, there are many people who are involved. The children, in their best with lace dresses and little ties, are the highlight for the parish. The parents, proud and nervous for their child, pray that nothing goes wrong. The people spend their time grinning at the behaviors of both and are so glad to be present. In the end, everyone remembers their First Eucharist and wants to join in blessing the next class of good Catholics.
What most people don’t notice is the coordinator. Usually a volunteer or modestly paid, the coordinator has done all the heavy work over the year. They have collected forms, set up experiences, taught the classes, worked with the families, build relationships with the students, met with the priest repeatedly, and a hundred other tasks with purpose and meaning. Seldom are they thanked. Often, they are ignored until people want something. These servants with giant hearts pull this all together. From the first parent meeting to the reception after Mass, coordinators do it all.
In a year’s time, our coordinators have invested their very breath into the lives of children and their families. They have sacrificed time and often funds to make this one experience a once in a life-time moment. The profound love which I have witnessed over and over again humbles me. The thing that amazes me is that they almost always, at some point, sit in the back at the First Communion Mass and I see tears. These tears show me the real meaning of a Sacramental life. Tears that express love and exhaustion at the same instance are holy. And I see them every time. These are the tears that God sheds when we commit to the Church and practice our faith publicly. How proud God must be of those who make such an effort for the little ones.
So, this year, when you are thanking people who loved your children through a Sacrament, take that moment and give them a hug and thanks. And be aware, that they are already planning for the next year of First Communion children and ready to love them unconditionally. Maybe that will make that embrace just a little bit longer.
By Monica J. Simmons
– Member of St. Michael Church, Motley.
– Crookston Native, Twins Fan, Nap Taker
– Has been in Youth Ministry for so long she forgets
– College & High School Grad, Perfect Attendance in 1st Grade
– Bible Camper, Retreat Admirer, Funniest Person in her home
– Single because Drums demand attention
– Wants a large dog really badly