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At last! The day to receive their First Holy Communion had arrived. The girls in their beautiful white communion dresses and veils, and boys in their handsome suits, white shirts, and ties, were gathering in the vestibule of the church. The parents, family members, and other parishioners were being seated. The sanctuary had been decorated with beautiful white flowers: lilies, roses, mums, and carnations. The church looked like heaven on earth.

Father Hugo and Deacon Paul had on their Mass vestments and were greeting people at the door as they arrived. Sister Mary Rose was there too, dressed in her beautiful white habit for this special occasion. Ms. Kelly fussed over the children making sure the veils were on straight and the ties tied right. She felt as though her heart might burst out of love for these special boys and girls. As the bell in the tower above the church began to toll out the hour, Sister hurried up the stairs to the choir loft where the full church choir was waiting. The children lined up as they had practiced the day before. They were to lead the procession to begin Mass. 1'hey would be followed by the altar servers, the readers, Deacon Paul, and finally Father Hugo.

On cue, the music began and the choir, the children, and everyone in the church began to sing the entrance hymn:

Here in this place, new light is streaming,

Now is the darkness vanished away,

See in this space our fears and our dreamings,

Brought here to you in the light of this day.

From 'Gather Us In'

Text by Marty Haugen

The children filed in as planned and took their places at the ends of the pews in the front of the church beside their families.

Father Hugo and Deacon Paul ascended the steps, turned and kissed the altar, and Mass began.

The children followed the Mass with complete attention. Their voices blended in with the choir and the other parishioners in song and prayer. They were now very much a part of the Church community.

When it came time for Communion, one by one, each child, accompanied by his or her family, approached the altar and Father Hugo to receive the Eucharist. The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Their First Holy Communion.

When it was Riley's turn to receive Communion,he looked around and found his best friend, Maria next to him. They smiled at each other, their eyes bright with newly found knowledge. They had solved the mystery together and together they were entering into another phase of their lives. There would be more mysteries to come, but with their faith and their friendship Riley felt they could face anything together. lie took Maria's hand and they walked up to Father Hugo side by side to receive their First Holy Communion.

After Mass was ended, all the children gathered for pictures. First they were around the altar. Then they went to the baptism font which is the place where it all began: the place where they received their first Sacrament, Baptism, and became members of the Body of Christ and of His Church.

" Why is this such a special day?" quizzed Father Hugo.

Together, the children shouted back, each answering for themselves," Because, Today I Made My First Communion!"

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