116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
For some children, desperate to grow up faster, First Communion is a milestone.
No longer will Catholic kids have to cross their hands over their chests, getting just a blessing and sometimes a touch on the head. Instead, they'll be able to receive what the Catholic Church believes is the body and blood of Christ - just like adults and older siblings, some of whom act downright superior about the privilege.
'It's really special because I've never done it before,” said Dade Davis, 8, of Swisher.
Davis and more than a dozen other second-graders are receiving their First Communion this weekend at St. Ludmila Catholic Church in Cedar Rapids.
Catholic children across the country will don suits and white dresses this spring to celebrate First Communion, one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church.
The reason Catholics usually celebrate the Eucharist for the first time in second grade is it's considered the age of reason, explained Rev. Dennis Juhl, known as Father Denny at St. Ludmila's.
'That's when they understand what they're doing and what it means,” he said.
Other Christian denominations celebrate First Communion at varying ages.
Before First Communion, Catholic children go through Reconciliation, or confession, when parishioners confess their sins against God and neighbor and are reconciled to the church. What kind of sins could a second-grader have?
'They disobeyed mom and dad, fought with their brothers and sisters, mostly,” Juhl said.
Juhl talks with the children about how sin can make them feel disconnected from the people they love, but that owning up to those actions can reunite them. St. Ludmila's gives each kid a stuffed lamb to remind them of the value of coming clean.
First Communion is just as important - if not more so - to parents, many of whom remember their own celebrations or those of older children. Rachel Santos of Iowa City recalls her husband taking their oldest daughter, now in sixth grade, to Chicago to buy her First Communion gown.
'You don't want your kids to get too wrapped up in what they're going to wear,” Santos said. 'But the dress was a signifier of the importance of the day.”
Their son, Zach, age 8, will receive his First Communion next weekend at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Iowa City.
Michaela Tjaden, also 8, of Cedar Rapids, will wear a satin dress with a lace overlay, silver tiara and her mom's silver rosary necklace when she receives First Communion today at St. Ludmila's. She wore the same outfit for a rehearsal and photos Wednesday.
'I'm excited,” she said with a grin.