Undoubtedly the sacrament of First Holy Communion is a significant one for children, their families and their schools.
As the focus fixes firmly on the occasion to be celebrated throughout the county in May it is important to remember the religious significance of the event and not get too caught up in the many sideshows which can detract somewhat from the day.
Schools and families have already been busy preparing for the occasion and one of the most important aspects of the day is that children are consciously aware of the preparations and their own involvement.
This preparation has been guided by schools, and their chaplains in particular, to prepare the children for the sacrament.
A strong emphasis is placed on the importance of family involvement, which is actively encouraged. Whether this is through parents attending and actively engaging in school First Communion meeting, through to attending the preparation Masses and volunteering for readings and helping to organise students etc. at Mass, it is important that the family plays an active part in preparation for the big day.
Many priests emphasise that it is the back up from the family which is particularly important in ensuring that the message given at Mass and through school is taken on board by children.
Advice from the practical parenting website advises people to keep the day simple child-focused: “The reality is that if you ask most children what they are looking forward to it is being with their friends and an informal party with cousins, grandparents and extended family.
A bouncy castle for smaller gardens can keep the children happy, but so can a Treasure Hunt that is planned ahead of time or some old fashioned games like Tug of War, three legged race, hide and seek and chasing”.
Rather than splashing out on a very expensive gift, it is suggested that parents instead do something memorable such as a day out to the zoo or something which will leave a long-lasting impression, without costing very much.
Remember to involve all the family and the child’s friends (of course their classmates will also be making their Communion) to make it a day that they won’t forget.