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Viewpoint from Fr Philip Shryane 23/06/2017 

Philip ShryaneFr Philip Shryane
St Mary’s Catholic Church, Great Yarmouth with St Peter, the Apostle, Gorleston and communities at Acle and Caister

as published in the Yarmouth Mercury


Over the last few weeks I have spent a lot of time preparing and planning First Holy Communions with some sixty families in the Catholic communities. These happy events are part of the life of a Catholic child and parents want to hand on this tradition, you may have caught something of this if you saw “Broken” on BBC 1
dove leftThe children prepare for more than six months and are helped to understand the basics of the Catholic faith. They prepare for their First Confession, to understand their choices sometimes to do something wrong and say sorry. They learn the stories Jesus told about forgiveness, the Prodigal son and loving father, Zacchaeus the reformed tax collector, and the good shepherd searching for the one that got lost
All of us need this sometimes in our life, to own our wrongdoing and seek forgiveness from others, and if appropriate to seek forgiveness from God. We all need to know that whatever we do, God will not abandon us

They learn about Holy Communion, that it is central to living the Catholic faith. They learn about the meals Jesus shared, feeding the five thousand and the Last Supper. This is difficult for children, it is hard enough for adults, but they learn what Jesus did and said, they come to understand that he died and rose to new life and he gives us the chance to share his life in Holy Communion. They learn that through his words, “Do this in memory of me”, we are invited to share the Last Supper today and make it present in our broken and wounded world

Dove rightYes, I know that there is razzmatazz around First Holy Communion, white dresses for the girls, smart new suits for the boys, and a family party. But they have also learnt something they will not forget, that God loves them so much he sent his Son Jesus not to condemn them but to save them. The great day comes at last, everyone arrives in their finery, and the church is buzzing with excitement. But this is primarily a time of prayer, people quieten themselves, the children are attentive, families pray together and come forward to receive Communion with their children, a beautiful and sacred moment

It can be lots of work, but also a great privilege to journey with children and families as they come to know a God of love and compassion, a God who wants to forgive us and welcome us into his love and a God who will never abandon us

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