The Catholic Commentator  

First of two articles  

A unique long-standing tradition allowed children from Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Baton Rouge to receive their first Communion encircled by the love of their family the weekend of April 28-29.  

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Children sing “I Want to Walk as a Child of The Light” in thanksgiving after receiving their first Communion April 28 at Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Baton Rouge.  Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator 

 

As each child came forth to receive the body of Christ from MBS pastor Father Phil Spano, their families came forth and formed a semi-circle or “cluster” around him or her. Once the child received Communion, the rest of the family received Communion from a deacon assistant. non-Catholic family members were able to come forward and receive a blessing.  

“We want them to have the joy of first Communion and to bring that joy to others,” said David Planche, director of Christian formation at MBS.  

He said the tradition, which was started under former pastor Father Michael Collins, deceased, was in place when he came to MBS 26 years ago, and the parents wanted the tradition to continue.   

The parents were part of the child’s journey to receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. The children took home books which called for discussions about the sacrament.  

“The sacramental prep is a family-centered activity,” said Planche. “I wanted them to be able to share their faith and traditions.” 

He said in doing so MBS is honoring the parent’s responsibility of being the first evangelizers.  

The children decorated ceramic crosses. They also made banners with their names on it with the help of their families that were hung on the side of their family’s pew on the day they received, first Communion.  

Planche said MBS, like a family, uses traditions to have a continuity of faith formation from the time they receive their first Communion until they are confirmed and then through college.  

“We are called a eucharistic family here,” said Planche.  

Prior to first Communion day, Planche gave a presentation on the history of the Eucharist, which tells the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea, and their Jewish people’s yearly commemoration of the Israelite’s exodus through the Passover meal. He “fast forwarded” to Jesus eating a Passover meal with his disciples and instituting the gift of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.   

The children also received their first taste of unconsecrated host and wine. “They get so excited when they see the Communion wafer,” said Planche.  

The tasting of the wine brings different reactions, however.  

“For the children it’s an acquired taste,” smiled Planche.  

The presentation shows the children the importance of a shared meal in the faith life. It also opens the door for further conversations with the children and their families at the dinner table, according to Planche.  

Parents often learn something important through the Sacramental preparation as well, Planche said.  

“I didn’t realize we were teaching parents under the guise of teaching their children,” said Planche.  

When the children received their first Communion, the family tradition, whether to receive it by mouth or by hand, was honored, said Planche. The cup of the precious blood was available outside the cluster for those who wished to receive it.  

On the day of first Communion, MBS was bubbling with excitement. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and other extended family members, godparents and friends were as excited as the children. For many, the occasion would be celebrated at home with a cake and special meal.  

“I’m excited about receiving the body of Christ,” said Caraline LaCroix. Her mother Tori said, “She’s our baby, so she’s the last to receive the sacrament we celebrate each week.” 

Ryker Ehlers was excited about joining his family as a member of the church by receiving first Communion.  

“By receiving the body and blood of Christ, he’s choosing Christ,” said his mother, Sujaz. “As a parent, we made the choice when we had him baptized, but now he’s choosing on his own.”  

Ryke’s father, Phillip, said receiving Communion was the “nourishment of his faith journey.”  

Savannah Couvillion was nervous about receiving Communion for the first time, but was excited by the fact that her sister was able to go to Communion and now she would be able to join her.  

While there were different elements to decorate the banner, the two things that Savannah was insistent on decorating the banner with were the chalice and the bread, representing the Eucharist.  

While Savannah was surrounded by many family and friends, there were three who weren’t there who were especially missed that day. Her maternal grandparents, who died after the flood of 2016, and a great aunt, who were looking forward to the day that they would celebrate Savannah’s first Communion with her.  

“They are here in spirit,” said her mother Annette.  

First Communion recipient Brady Pitre said he was excited to get closer to God and Jesus by receiving first Communion. 

His big sister Brooke, who helped him with his banner, said, “I am just happy for him to receive it with all of us as a family.”  

Brady’s mother, Robbie, said a large family was there to help him celebrate, including cousins ranging in age from 5-years-old to college-aged.  

“It’s a beautiful way to celebrate the sacrament,” said Robbie. “It makes you feel God’s presence and compliments the day.”  

Receiving Communion for the first time was twice the joy for twins, Bree and Zéa Tubre.  

“It’s definitely a double blessing,” said dad, Joel.  

The twins also have siblings Adia, 5, and Jade, 1. 

While there’s been more first Communion preparation with twins, it helped emphasize the sacredness of the sacrament for the girls, who do things together in their life journey.  

“That’s all we’ve ever known for the girls,” said mother, Scarlett.  

Next: First Communion’s healing presence for the family hit by tragedy.