First Reconciliation doesn’t have the pomp and circumstance of First Communion, but it was no less special for our St. Joseph second-graders.

Thursday, February 16, our St. Joseph second-graders made their first Reconciliations. A smattering of parents attended and me.

The children were all dressed in their Sunday best – a mosaic of clip-on ties, Mary Jane shoes, collared shirts, colored tights, lots of bows, and even a couple suit coats.

Since the church building was closed for repairs, the children walked to the parish center, flocking behind their teachers.

Fr. Chris Ankley greeted them with stories about Jesus the Good Shepherd. Having been a practicing veterinarian, Fr. Chris knew something about lambs.

He spoke about Buck, a pet sheep who came when called because Buck knew his shepherd. Father reminded the children Jesus is our shepherd and we come when he calls.

He showed them a real shepherd’s crook, demonstrating how it hooked a wandering lamb’s neck to gently pull it back. Father said our conscious is Jesus’ crook, pulling us into Reconciliation.

Reviewing the Act of Contrition

He pointed to a picture of Jesus holding a lamb in his arms. Father assured the children they have nothing to fear because Jesus loves them.

This emphasis on the Good Shepherd reinforced months of preparation, led by second-grade teachers Barbie Carrier and Amy Doyle. There were catechism lessons, bible stories, visits to the confessional, visits from Fr. Jose and Fr. Chris, lots of open discussions, and plenty of practice in the classroom.

Saying Penance

“The priests and we did what we could to be sure they felt secure, comfortable, and at ease so that they know it is good to go to confession,” Mrs. Doyle said.

And it showed.

One by one the children left for their confession, returning minutes later with big smiles and a decade rosary blessed by Pope Francis. Some of them skipped, a few of them hugged their parents or teacher, but most of them got right down to the business of saying their penance.

Celebrating with friends

Reverent and mostly still, the children waited for everyone to finish. Although excitement over the upcoming ice cream party grew near the end.

After a few group photos, these squeaky clean souls got their sprinkles on, running, jumping and playing like…well, lambs.

These second-graders will receive their first Holy Communion on the last Saturday in April. Amidst the pomp and circumstance, will be the peace of this quiet February Thursday with Jesus.

“It’s so important for the children to understand God’s love, mercy and forgiveness for us always,” Mrs. Doyle said. “The grace they receive in the Sacrament of Reconciliation when their sins have been forgiven is key. That grace prepares their hearts to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.”

Our 2017 First Reconciliation Class

Mrs. Carrier and Mrs. Doyle asked their students how it felt to receive this sacrament. Their answers capture the joy of forgiveness. Please enjoy a selection of them below.

“It’s fun to have no sins.” ~ “I felt very proud of myself because all of my sins were washed away and I am very glad that it happened!” ~ “Graceful right after I did my penance.” ~ “Filled with joy” ~ “My whole soul is clean” ~ “I feel full of grace.” ~ “The whole time, I just felt grace.” ~ “I felt good because we got the Sacrament of Penance and we got to reset our sins!” ~ “Amazing grace – like the song!”

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