Diocese’s First Communicants celebrate at cathedral Mass
Photo Caption: Dulce Espana proclaims the second reading during the Mass for First Communicants from around the Diocese of Peoria at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on May 31.
By: By Tom Dermody
Last Saturday was the third time Valeriano Vargas got to wear his white suit made in Mexico, the second time he received Jesus while wearing it, and the first time he met Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC — who blessed his bag of First Communion gifts.
Valeriano, the son of Jerry and Valerie Vargas of St. Anne Parish in East Moline, was one of many recent First Communicants and their families from around the Diocese of Peoria who joined the bishop for a Mass on May 31 celebrating the children’s new closeness to Christ.
Bishop Jenky said the graces and blessings of their First Communion Day extend throughout the church to the bishop himself.
“It’s a blessing for all of us,” the bishop told the children. Most, like Valeriano, were in their First Communion suits or dresses.
“When I look at you,” said Bishop Jenky, “so filled with faith, so filled with devotion, so filled with love for Jesus Christ, it kind of puts my heart on fire again. It reminds me of everything I believe.”
The bishop gave his homily from the cathedral’s sanctuary steps and often spoke directly to the children, including a class of 75 from the cathedral parish under the religious instruction of the Missionaries of Charity. The cathedral class included Juan Vargas and Dulce Espana, who gave the first and second reading and whose practice was evident in their proclamation, and Bernardo Ortiz, Faith Vargas, Carla Vargas, and Fernando Ocampo, who brought up the offertory gifts.
The Mass also celebrated the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord. Bishop Jenky reminded the children that when he ascended to heaven, Jesus “didn’t leave us alone.”
“Every time we come to Holy Communion, Jesus, our redeemer, the Son of God, is in our hearts,” said Bishop Jenky. “We’re close to him. He is close to us. We can tell him when we’re happy. We can tell him when we’re sad. We can ask his help when we need it. We can simply enjoy his company because he is so good a friend.
“That’s why we make such a big deal in our church about first Holy Communion,” said Bishop Jenky.
He ended his homily by challenging those who love the children to bring them to Mass every Sunday. And at the close of Mass, Bishop Jenky had the parents, grandparents, godparents, and teachers of the children stand to receive applause for their efforts to pass on the faith.