Our dear, dear, dear friend Fr. Fred guided the kids' preparation and very clearly set forth his expectations. The kids, for their part, worked their tails off, both independently and as a group, to understand what they needed to know. Fred expected them to not only know the information, but to understand it and be able to talk about it with ownership. It wasn't enough for them to parrot the data ... he needed them to own it as their own. (Yup - that's a Jesuit for you!) :)
Everyone arrived bright and early Saturday morning at Bellarmine for the sacraments. The kids looked amazing in their bright whites and practically exploded with excitement. Once assembled, Fr. Fred walked each child through the sacrament of Reconciliation one by one. Then, we gathered as a larger group to celebrate mass and the kids' First Holy Communion.
I cannot begin to fully express how much it means to me that Annika received her first Communion in the same chapel that she was baptized in.... from the same priest who baptized her. It added so much to a big day for our little girl that there was this sense of continuity ... of family. Fr. Fred said mass with such genuine love and admiration for these kids. He spoke of them being the future of the faith and how each and every person needs to develop his or her own conscience and then own their decisions. He spoke of Jesus' welcoming nature and how important it is to love all and cast out none. (YEAH JESUITS!!)
After mass, we had a little reception in a room near the chapel, complete with a lemon cake I made that was topped with a chocolate cross that Eric whipped up. (Creative, isn't he??) The gathering eventually spilled outside to the sun-soaked Bellarmine campus, where the kids ran around, climbed trees, and generally made themselves at home. Bellarmine is one of my homes in many ways, and the fact that we have celebrated so many important family moments there drives that feeling even deeper into my being.
By looking at the photos below, you may notice that she wore two dresses. She wore a new dress (no sleeves) for the Reconciliation part of the morning and then changed into the dress worn waaaaaay back in 1982 when I received my first Holy Communion. (It was also worn by my sister's girls when they received theirs.... again, loving the connection and togetherness!). The reason for the two dresses? We weren't sure if the original one would survive a trip to the cleaners, so had a backup dress. Fortunately, it did make it through and looks brand new again!
|Annika in the Orton Hall chapel|
|Annika, Nina, and Karla|
|Our cutie pies|
|Annika all ready for her big day|
|Fr. Fred celebrating mass|
|Fr. Fred and the kiddos|
|Karla, Nina, Annika, and Jayden|
|Lemon cake w/ chocolate cross|