I was brought up in an Irish Catholic family. Not only did I go to a Catholic school, but we went to mass at school and also on a Sunday with my family. We would attend the service and listen to the priest as he read out the scriptures from the bible. I didn’t always understand what was being said, but I listened all the same. I did like to sing and the hymns to me were the favourite part of going to mass. I think this is one of the reasons that I joined the choir at school.
Until I was 7 years old I couldn’t receive Holy Communion. I would, of course, walk up with my mother and father as they receive it and looked and smiled at the priest as he gave it to them. I would be able to receive Holy Communion when I had made my “First Holy Communion.” This is a special service for families, as it brought not only your own family members together, but the families of your friends at school. My friend’s families like mine came from all over the world and we all gathered together in St Mary’s Church in Loughborough.
Before we had the service, we all had to wear smart clothes for church and as you can see I am wearing a white dress, veil and white shoes. My dress was made by a polish lady that lived around the corner from me. The boys wore trousers or shorts, white shirts and ties and smart shoes.
We had all been baptized as children and this was the first time that we could affirm our vows to God. Once we had made our vows and had accepted God into our lives and promised to live a life in his name, then we were given for the first time Holy Communion.
I can remember being sat in the church. We didn’t sit with our families, we sat at the front and I sat on the left-hand side of the church. As the service took place, we had to stand up for some of the parts and then sit down for others. I remember not wanting to turn around so I carefully sat down on the pue. I remember my dad telling me that I just managed to sit my bottom on the edge of the Pue.
Next, in turn, we walked up the aisle and then received Holy Communion. It was small and circular and to a child of 7, it was like a wafer. I placed my left hand out and lay my right hand over the top and then cupped it. It was my turn, and as I stood with my hands out the priest said “Lamb Of God” and I replied “Amen.” I then placed it in my mouth, made the sign of the cross and then returned to my seat.
Once the service was over we all stood outside and then one by one had our photo taken at the church. We would all then make our way to St Mary’s school for more photos and light refreshments
We had all had a good day and from now on when we went to mass we could receive holy communion. I never really questioned our faith, and what we were taught. I know that I liked to pray and Mary is someone that I would always look at in the church. There was one statue as you came in, and another one to the left of the altar.
Part of going to church was going to confession and we would go and talk to the priest so that we could tell him our sins and he would then give you a penance for them. He didn’t know who you were as he couldn’t see you. When you came out you had to say them and also that you were sorry and God would forgive you.
Believing in God, his Angels, Jesus and Mary was something we did, along with all the miracles and visitations that had happened in the bible. We had not seen any of them, but still, we believed.