WINDSOR TERRACE — Across the diocese this spring, youth have donned bright red robes or gleaming white dresses or suits to receive either Communion or Confirmation.
Pandemic-caused delays have been lifted, and all the parishes in Brooklyn and Queens are back on track, according to Father Joseph Gibino, vicar for evangelization and catechesis for the Diocese of Brooklyn.
“Children have received and are continuing to receive their sacraments,” he said, explaining that most parishes caught up with celebrating sacraments this past fall after the pandemic postponed last year’s springtime Masses.
“Bishop DiMarzio gave permission for the pastors to confirm or ask for an auxiliary bishop to come, and first Communions were held for many children.
“This spring, all of the parishes have sacraments for First Communion,” Father Gibino continued. “And if they traditionally have done their Confirmations in the spring, they’ve been held or have been scheduled if they happen in the fall.”
Sister Lucy Mendez, PCM, religious education director at St. Bartholomew Church, Elmhurst, said she is looking forward to seeing more than 160 children receive their First Holy Communion on June 12 and 19. Additionally, over 150 youth will be confirmed across four ceremonies on Oct. 16.
“The celebration of these sacraments, especially during this pandemic, is like the dew in the desert,” Sister Lucy said. “It is a precious gift to celebrate that God is in our midst. He is our hope, He is the Bread of Life, and He is with us.”
Godofredo Andrew Martinez expressed the uncertainty he felt at the beginning of the school year when St. Bartholomew’s faith formation classes began for his second-grade son, Gianluca.
“We were very hesitant, in the beginning, if we should do it or not because of the pandemic,” Martinez said, “but we thought it was very important to us, as Catholics, to continue with our faith, even though we’re in the middle of the pandemic.”
With less than a month to go, Martinez said Gianluca is happy to receive the body of Christ for the first time.
“He loves being in church and loves learning about our faith, and the teachers have mentioned on multiple occasions how he’s always asking questions,” Martinez said. “He’s really into it, which is good.”
Similarly, Nicholas and Jackie Borja are relieved that their eldest son Nick will receive Confirmation at St. Bartholomew’s this fall.
“We’re excited because we went through all of these basic sacraments when we were young in the Philippines,” Jackie said. “This is the reason why we sent our kids to St. Bartholomew. We want to share with them how it is growing up in a Catholic school and getting their sacraments as well.”
Eighteen students received their first holy Communion at Holy Trinity Church, Whitestone, in late April and early May. Twenty-five students received their confirmation on March 27 with Auxiliary Bishop Witold Mroziewski serving as the main celebrant. Two young candidates also received confirmation alongside two adults on Pentecost Sunday, May 23.
“It was really important for these young people to be able to see their work and efforts accumulate at the end,” said Nancy Rullo, Holy Trinity’s faith formation and religious education director.
“Like I told them during practice,” she added, “the best thing about receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist is that — no matter where you go in any country, in any part of the world — you can walk into a Catholic church and receive the Eucharist.”
Celebrating the sacrament of Communion held more meaning for the Bono family, who have been parishioners at Holy Trinity for the past two years. Brothers Benjamin and Jack, who are in fourth and third grades respectively, received the Eucharist together at the same Mass on May 1.
“When we first started the process, I didn’t know if Ben was going to have to receive his communion in some type of special ceremony and be separate from his brother,” dad Roy Bono said, explaining that his eldest son has autism. “But, the fact that they were able to do it together was really awesome.
“And for Ben to receive it with his brother was very important to him,” Roy continued. “I could tell how seriously he had taken it from the classwork he was doing to actually practicing the motions to receive holy Communion — with me playing the role of the priest and Ben walking up.”
Parent Phyllis Frey, whose eighth-grade daughter Ava received Confirmation at Holy Trinity, noted that the intimate church setting allowed her family to take in the importance of the day.
“Because of COVID-19 restrictions, it was just our immediate family and my eldest daughter was my youngest’s sponsor,” Frey said, noting that other family members were there in spirit as they watched the livestream from their Long Island and Florida homes.
“The Confirmation was wonderful and I was very pleased with it.”