Reflecting on a sacramental milestone
This past Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of my first Communion, so Mass attendance that day was laced with nostalgia as my thoughts kept drifting back to the people and events I encountered on April 21, 1968.
There I was, a 7-year-old dressed to the nines, approaching the altar with hands folded, my parents on either side of me and lots of family members looking on. Father Frederick Eisemann then leaned way, way over and placed the Eucharist on my tongue for the first time ever. (It was still a few years before receiving Communion in the hand would become customary.)
My special sacramental moment took place in the new Our Mother of Sorrows church building in Greece, which had opened just a few months earlier to replace the parish’s original, smaller structure. In that older building — which still stands proudly at the corner of Mount Read Boulevard and Latta Road — I had been baptized by Father Daniel O’Rourke in 1960 and made my first confession to Father George Wood in 1967.
What’s neat is that in recent months, I’ve crossed paths at least once with each of three priests who served at Our Mother of Sorrows during my childhood: my great friend Father John Reif, who was stationed there from 1974-78 and now resides at Holy Cross Church in Charlotte; Father Eugene Weis (1962-68), who lives at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse and last year released a compelling memoir of his priesthood; and Father Eisemann (1967-74), who lives at St. Ann’s Home and is celebrating his 65th anniversary in the priesthood.
When I think of the role that all these wonderful priests — along with a loving and devout family — have played in forming and deepening my Catholic faith, I feel blessed beyond words.