A day of Sunshine and Sacraments

DANBURY—The tradition of First Holy Communion was celebrated at St. Joseph Church with more than a dozen children receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Students from St. Joseph School and Religious Education classes, along with their families, participated in the Mass on a chilly but sunshine-filled Saturday morning.

“Today is a very special moment and milestone in the lives of our young parishioners,” said pastor, Father Samuel Scott. “We are so mindful of this precious gift of the Eucharist and we recognize what a great joy this is today.”

A total of 38 children prepared to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion in May but those plans were changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Following the leadership of the Diocese of Bridgeport, the parish decided to hold three separate First Holy Communion Masses to accommodate the students and family members while adhering to social distancing protocols. This was the second group of students to receive the sacrament. A third set of students will receive the sacrament next weekend. The Mass was also live-streamed on the parish website.

All students received the Sacrament of Reconciliation the day before receiving First Holy Communion. Father Scott and Father David Franklin heard confessions from the children the night before the First Holy Communion Mass.

Girls wore a white mask to match their beautiful white dress and boys wore a dark colored mask to match their suit.

During the homily Father Scott said it was important now and throughout life to understand, “Things aren’t always what they appear to be. Sometimes they are more.”

To illustrate his point, Father Scott held up objects that on the surface looked like one thing but upon further inspection were much more. For instance, what looked like a Reader’s Digest book was actually a hollowed-out book meant for keepsakes to be hidden. He also held up a figurine of what looked like a bird but its beak functioned as a bottle opener.

He then held up a cruet with wine and a host of bread explaining that when the priest calls upon the Holy Spirit during Mass, these become, “the Body and Blood of our Savior.”

“A change that is unique but is invisible,” Father Scott said. “You are receiving this as a gift from Christ Jesus. It is the real presence of Jesus. It is invisible but very, very real.”

After the mass, the children received a certificate in addition to a gift bag they received the day before with a handmade Rosary by Our Lady’s Rosary Makers and an instruction booklet on how to pray the Rosary.

“The families were all so happy,” said director of Religious Education, Lynn Smierciak. “You could see their smiling eyes. It’s a joyous occasion despite the restrictions.”

Smierciak said some families opted to wait until next year for their child to receive the sacraments while others were excited to have an opportunity to do so now.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” said Denise Maritato, whose daughter, Giovanna, received her First Holy Communion. “The kids did very well.”

“We are very proud and very happy,” said Margarida Wheeler, whose son Tyler received his First Holy Communion. “This is part of why we go to Saint Joseph’s, for the values. When we had this opportunity, we were very grateful.”

Father Scott said we are all living stones of this spiritual temple.

“There really is no substitute of receiving Christ Jesus. We are so proud of you,” Father Scott said. “We need Jesus every week to strengthen us every week and for a moral compass in our lives. This is not a one-time deal,” he said. “Come every week.”