First Communion

It is the summer of 1954 and seven year old Pat is about to make his First Communion at Saint Raphael’s Roman Catholic Church. In this sixth installment of “Memories of a Boy Growing Up in Blackville”, Pat recalls the special occasion led by Father Nowlan and the Bishop.

First Communion
Written by Pat Fournier

June 1954 – seven years old

I had gone to Sunday school at St. Raphael’s every week for a year now, and I was ready for my First Communion.  There were a lot of answers that Father Nowlan made us memorize from questions in the catechism, like:
Who made you? God made me.
Where is God? God is everywhere.
How can you glorify God? By loving Him and doing what He commands.

St. Raphael's Catholic Church
St. Raphael’s Catholic Church

And I said my prayers every night, as Mom knelt down beside me at the side of my bed:  “God bless Mommy and Daddy and Katharine and Marjorie and Johnny, and make me a good boy.”  And I remember how Johnny and I laughed when he blessed himself once, and instead of saying:  “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost”, said “One two three four!”  That was so funny that we had a hard time finishing our prayers!

Gertrude Furlotte was in my grade one class at school, and she was in my catechism class, too, and I remember I had a ‘crush’ on her!  She and most of the other girls who were doing their first communion were dressed up like they were getting married, in fancy white dresses with veils, because Father Nowlan said they were going to be ‘brides of Christ’.

Me and Gertrude Furlotte. These pictures come from a class picture taken about a year or so later.
Me and Gertrude Furlotte. These pictures come from a class picture taken about a year or so later.

I was dressed up in my best white shirt, and a blue blazer that Mom borrowed from someone, and I had a black armband around my right arm.

But it wasn’t Father Nowlan who gave us our first communion.  When we filed out of the first two rows of pews in the center of the church, and walked up to the altar railing with our hands held tight together in prayer, a bishop with a big pointed hat that they called a miter, stood at the center step of the communion railing to give us our first communion.  As an altar boy held a golden platen under our chin in case the Eucharist got dropped, the bishop put a communion wafer on our tongue.

A communion chalice with the Holy Eucharist, a bishop’s miter, and a Brownie camera, like Mom had
A communion chalice with the Holy Eucharist, a bishop’s miter, and a Brownie camera, like Mom had

After our first communion mass most of the parents with a Brownie camera took pictures of the whole First Communion class together, and then standing with our parents, and with the bishop, and with Father Nowlan.

I remember when the bishop put the Eucharist on my tongue, I didn’t know what to expect, but it hardly had a taste at all.  And then it just took a little while for it to melt on my tongue.

I figured I could get used to it.

Click here for more installments of “Memories of a Boy Growing Up in Blackville”.

If you have any comments or questions about Pat’s stories, you can contact him at his email address at pfournier@eastlink.ca.

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