Elizabeth Ford, Assistant Director Of Music & Director of Children’s Ministry
I have vivid memories of sitting with my grandparents in the Catholic Cathedral as a young child. I remember the moment when all of the grown-ups got to receive Eucharist (Communion). I don’t remember feeling awe or wonder but anxiety. I watched these little grey-haired people leave the pews a certain way, walk a certain path, hold their hands just right, and say specific words. I was so anxious about learning all of this procedure. As a second grader, I began taking the Eucharistic Preparation classes—a year-long process with strict attendance policies. My family began preparing for the day by buying just the right dress and planning a big Italian party to celebrate this milestone.
During this time, we visited my godmother’s Episcopal church. That day, the children went to a small chapel to have their own kid-led service. As part of the service, the kids had Communion. When they invited me, I was faced with a dilemma. I studied the bread and wine, and I concluded that this wasn’t really Eucharist because they gave me real bread instead of wafers and grape juice instead of wine. Therefore, it was perfectly fine for me to participate. After service, I told my parents about this “practice communion” that I’d participated in and they were less than thrilled.
Events led my family to leave our Catholic church, but I still attended Catholic school and went to daily Religious Education classes—that we were no longer attending Catholic church was top secret! Somehow, my teacher found out, and she announced to the class that I was not able to receive Eucharist with the rest of my class. I was not only mortified and embarrassed, I was totally confused. An extremely shy sixth-grader, I stood up in my chair and announced, “Oh, that’s right! At the last supper Jesus said, take this all you good little Catholics and eat it!” I marched myself down to the principal’s office and waited for my parents to pick me up. It was a defining moment in my life.
Communion became a big question in my life: Who was it open to? When I started attending PPMCC, I loved that Pastor Wes said communion was open to everyone. I began to revel in the fact that those around me had different beliefs about Communion. This all came full circle when Sister Mary Colleen came to bless Denise’s ministry as our Spiritual Director. I sat on pins and needles as our ushers invited a Catholic nun to communion. I expected her to cross her hands over her chest to signal a blessing instead of receiving the elements. Instead, she chose to join our community. While Communion is still a mystery that I can’t explain, I praise God that our church celebrates God’s grace and love for all of us every Sunday.