I went to a celebration of First Communion at St Mary’s in Maffra. The church was packed with 19 children making their first communion, and all their families supporting them. It was a great day for them and one well worth being there. The joy of the children, and they were from 7 to 12 (at a guess), was wonderful to behold.
To look at them we can glimpse one future of the church, where the church grows naturally through the children. But is this happening. The priest at the mass, pleaded with the parents to bring them back the following Sunday, or Saturday night, or Sunday afternoon, one hour of the 68 that we have each week. To hear his plea was heart-wrenching. Here were these children full of joy, and sharing with their friends that partaking of our Lord Jesus, and yet we know that some/most will fall away. May I say, not through their own fault, but mostly through the fault of their parents who have a take it or leave it attitude to the church. Catholic Australia has this to say about First Communion;
Similarly, parents are the first educators of their children in matters of faith. Perhaps it is true to say that not all parents are ready at the same stage.
Coming to church about ten minutes before, my wife and I had to move through a sea of people waiting outside, talking and standing around. We know these people, we see them at Baptisms, funerals, and weddings. These are the ones uncomfortable in church, the ones who have drifted away and set themselves apart. It is these that we have to catechise, and looking at them yesterday, they were all family of the ones taking their first communion.
I hope these children do not drift away; I pray for the parents that they be steadfast in their faith; and I pray for the Maffra Parish, that the people of the parish can sustain, and encourage families to become part of the community of faith. Looking at the children yesterday, they are our hope and our future.