Sunday, May 26, 1935: 11 year old Edjui walked devotedly to the altar rail to receive his First Holy Communion. His proud parents Franciszek and Anna witnessed his reception of the Blessed Sacrament at the morning Mass. His old siblings Emilia and Stanley were also seated in the pew. The prayers of the liturgy were spoken in Latin, but the homily addressed to the children was spoken in Polish. Many of the parents were first generation Polish Americans, and they savored the belief that their children were becoming Catholic Christian Americans. Receiving this sacrament was further proof of their deep faiths and commitments to the Lord who had delivered them safely to this new land. The families rejoiced also in the fact that their home parish of Saint Ladislaus was a neighborhood church where the immigrants could worship and serve together.
That special day, Edjui was dressed in his best clothes. It was the Polish custom that the First Communicants wear white ribboned armbands that their mothers had sewn together for them. Some ribbons were embroidered with religious symbols sewn with gold threads. He wore a boutonniere as part of the traditional dress. Each child received a religious scapular and rosary. At some time, Edjui’s mother took him to the local photography studio to have a commemorative picture taken. The studio was staged with a white Baptismal candle for Edjui to hold while a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus rested on a small table. The picture would be printed on penny postcards for Edjui’s family to send to family and friends.
The parish and neighborhood would celebrate the day with cakes, baked by the proud mothers. Small presents of holy cards and coins were received by the children. What a blessed day for the parishioners of this Polish-American church!
Note: Twenty-two years later, Edjui’s little daughter would receive her First Holy Communion. The Mass would be prayed in Latin while the homily was preached in English. Her parish was located in a small Southern town in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. What a blessed day for her and her family!