First Communions During Pandemic Times
The month of September was full of activity even during these times of isolation! Our Adaptive Faith Formation (AFF) candidates in my parish’s program had been waiting for four months to receive their First Communion when the new dates were announced. I knew they were going to need some type of refresher course to be ready once more for the reception of the Blessed Sacrament. Thus, I started planning our Review Classes via video conference which the parents were relieved to hear about. They, too, had been wondering how their children were going to know what to do after so long a wait.
Being so blessed as an AFF catechist with an all-parish support team, I enlisted their help, and planned a condensed version of our in-person classes. I asked the parents and part of our team to have ready a few items for our virtual classes:
· a cross, a crucifix, or an unlit candle to hold during Prayer Time
· a soft ball or a beach ball to play catch while we sang “He’s got the Whole World in His Hands” (a favorite!)
· a comfortable chair or mat for story time and for after practicing how to "receive communion."
I also prepared our prayer booklets and pattern books for Reading Time. When the moment came, one of our students decided to read out loud for the rest of those present. Different members of our parish team took turns being present during our several virtual classes. They showed off their crosses, candles, and soft balls to our candidates and encouraged them throughout the various activities. Every time, my loving family was literally behind the scenes helping me with the set ups, camera angles, and what nots.
The key item in my AFF basket (a green, plastic one that holds my hands-on items) was a set of cards with different Eucharistic pics and food items so our children could practice.
“Is this Jesus?” I asked while holding a card close to my computer camera. “Yes, this is Jesus!” showing a thumbs up while they did the same, being guided at home by their supportive parents.
During other turns, and when the card was a food item, I signaled a thumbs down, and watched my computer screen for my students’ thumbs down. I could also hear their determined parents saying, “No, it’s not Jesus.”
After our preparedness and the parents’ efforts in making their children participate as best as possible of the virtual classes, our candidates, along with their classmates and as part of St. Clare’s community, received their First Communion. While stepping into a “culture of inclusion,” we followed His voice, and “let the children come to Me” was made life in front of our eyes.