Diocesan News

First Communion Is Right Setting for May Crowning

First Communion Is Right Setting for May Crowning
Boys and girls in the religious education program at Most Precious Blood parish, Bath Beach, received First Communion and participated in a May Crowning last weekend. (Photo by Photo by Marie Elena Giossi)

Moments after receiving the Body of Christ for the first time, Bath Beach residents Esmeralda Quintanilla and Nicholas Cacace honored the woman closest to Jesus’ heart with a crown of silk flowers.

Emphasizing the importance of a close relationship with Jesus and Mary, Most Precious Blood parish combined its First Communion Mass and May Crowning, last Saturday.

The month of May is dedicated to the Blessed Mother and is traditionally celebrated on the parish level with the crowning of a statue of Mary by the children who receive first Holy Communion that spring.

While many parishes have the sacramental celebration one day and then invite children back for the crowning another day, Most Precious Blood parish joined the two events together this year.

“Mary was the perfect disciple and she is our role model,” said Father John Maduri, pastor. Combining the two events, he said, sends the reminder to both the children and their parents “to be faithful like Mary.”

First Communion Is Right Setting for May Crowning
From left, siblings Reagan, Giovanna and Nicholas Cacace received the sacrament together. (Photo by Marie Elena Giossi)

As parents filled the pews, the 20 First Communicants stood on the church steps with Judina Wilson, religious education director. She adjusted neckties and veils as she reviewed the proper hand posture to receive the Eucharist.

Most importantly, she told children, “When you receive Jesus, remember to look up and smile.” Wilson is completing her first year at the parish, having formerly served in the same role at St. Laurence Church, East New York. She’s been a catechist since 1990.

“This is the fruits of the labor,” Wilson said to a visitor. “I get teary-eyed to think they’re going to receive Our Lord and Savior.”

Boys and girls began journeying toward this day from the time of their baptism as they learned more about God, Jesus and the teachings of the Church.

Formal preparations got underway last September when students started weekly religious education classes to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Eucharist this spring.

In his homily, Father Maduri spoke about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and explained that Jesus gave His followers the gift of His Body and Blood as spiritual “food for the journey of eternal life.”

The greatest witness on that journey is Jesus’ own Blessed Mother, the priest said. He told the boys and girls that Mary always said “yes” to God and they should strive to do the same.

Addressing the parents, he encouraged them to be good witnesses for their children. “The sacramental life is meant to be an ongoing journey of faith, an ongoing relationship with Christ,” he said.

When the moment came for them to receive the Eucharist, children placed their right hands under their left ones to make a throne for their King. One by one, the children approached Father Maduri and accepted Jesus, first in their hands, and then in their hearts.

After time for meditation and a hymn, it was time to honor Mary. Cacace carried a wreath of silk flowers on a pillow to the altar, where Quintanilla placed it upon a statue of the Blessed Mother holding the Infant Jesus.

“I feel happy today,” said Quintanilla, who was honored to give a crown to “Jesus’ Mother.”

Two by two, the rest of the class processed up the center aisle and placed white silk flowers in a vase at Our Lady’s feet.

Martha Cacace, mother of Nicholas, 8, Reagan, 9 and Giovanna, 12, said the crowning was “beautifully done” as part of the Mass.

Her husband Anthony agreed, adding that he hopes his children will continue to honor Mary and see Jesus as “someone who will always be there for them, someone they can turn to in their everyday life.”

Angelina Velez smiled as she walked out of church with her parents, Dina and Angel.

“I feel very happy and excited that I did my First Communion,” she said.

And her parents were proud to witness a “beautiful day” in their daughter’s faith journey.

“We want her to follow God and follow His Word,” Angel said, looking at his daughter. “It’s a lifetime commitment.”

Asked when she would receive Communion again, Angelina glanced up at her mom and dad, and then said with confidence, “Next Sunday.”