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First Holy Communion - St Richard’s and Our Lady of the Assumption

Sunday 22nd May was a special day in the life of our parish. This year, with 58 candidates, our first Holy Communion day was a long time in the planning. Our young people aged seven and over embarked on their journey over eight months ago. This has required a big commitment by the children, their parents and our catechist team. The children have met once a month with the catechists at St Richard’s Church to learn more about the holy Eucharist through the scheme 'I belong'. Each session has focused on a particular aspect of this very special sacrament. The parents have been involved throughout the course with workbooks the children have, and five parents’ meetings to broaden their understanding of the course and their children’s commitment to it.

Sunday was the culmination of a huge amount of preparation by many people in the parish. First of all, the children themselves. There was a great buzz of excitement in both our churches - St Richard’s in Chichester and Our Lady of the Assumption, Bosham. For practical reasons it was necessary to split the group into two venues. The Masses both commenced at 12 noon, with Father Kieron presiding in Bosham and Father Thomas in Chichester. The same booklet was used so the same hymns and Mass parts were common to both Masses. The children all looked wonderful – full of expectancy for this long-awaited first meeting with Jesus, through Holy Communion.

All the planning and preparation had proved to be well worthwhile. The photographs bear witness to this very special occasion.

Thanks are due in great numbers to so many. The catechists, who help prepare and re-assure the children throughout their long months of preparation. The parents, for supporting the programme, attending the preparation Masses and parents’ meetings. The prayer sponsors, many of whom are housebound but have greatly enjoyed their involvement with our young parishioners. The 'team' who prepared a wonderful celebratory feast for the children, which was held in St Richard’s School. Lots of other people were involved: musicians and singers in both churches, church cleaners, flower arrangers, printers, collators of the booklet etc. and of course the priests, Father Thomas Swaffer, who led the preparation programme throughout, and Father Kieron O’Brien, our parish priest.

Fr Thomas writes:

"It’s always dangerous to start listing everyone – you are bound to forget someone and cause offence. There are many others whose prayers, practical help and presence cannot be counted. However, the most important people of the day were of course the children. Their excitement and enthusiasm cannot be measured. May God bless them all as they continue their faith journey into a new phase."

Yours in Christ with St Richard and St Norbert
Father Thomas Swaffer O.Praem.

Photography – Keith McNally, Ziggi Janiec