On the 4th of November 2017, the church of the Good Shepherd, Setapak celebrated the initiation of 49 children into the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist. Children from all the language groups as well as from the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children (RCIC), came together in union to receive Christ for the first time. The beautiful celebration was animated by the children themselves. The children’s choir, known lovingly as “The Cherubims“, serenaded the mass with their angelic singing. It was uplifting to experience the voice of children reading the Word of God and singing Psalms to Our Lord, praising him with their God-given talents and giving thanks to Him as they prepare themselves to receive Him for the first time. Parents, godparents and dedicated teachers worked tirelessly together in preparing the children to undertake this next journey of faith.
The mass was celebrated by Fr. Christopher Soosaipillai, the parish priest of Good Shepherd. As the Gospel echoed the message of humility and humbleness, Fr. Chris related it to our call as Christians by virtue of our baptism; as prophet, priest and king. Each one of us as baptised Catholics are called to embody these three roles and duties in our daily lives. We are called to speak as prophets, bringing the Word of God to others and called to continuously offer sacrifices and prayers for the people of the world, as priests. It is not only the duty of the clergy, but as of one community of Christians, united in Christ. The priesthood is a sharing of life giving experiences, love and knowledge. Fr. Chris also goes on to share on the importance of humility and imitating Christ in his virtues. Christ never claimed equality with God, despite being the Son of God. He lived a life of humility and presented himself as a servant who came to give life to all. An important lesson that Jesus taught us at the cross was about forgiveness. This is an important lesson that we should strive to always remember and practice in our Christian lives. The exultation of self will be humbled, is another important message that resonated, as Scripture says, ‘Anyone who raises himself up will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.’ (Matthew 23: 12)
As the celebration came towards an end, the children presented a song of thanksgiving after having received Christ. The hymn, ‘God is dwelling in my heart’ echoed throughout the church as the voices of the 50 children, with Christ indeed dwelling in their hearts touched all hearts who were present on that day. Following the mass was a simple, pot-luck fellowship at the church canteen, where parents, godparents and teachers gathered together as they cut a cake to commemorate the celebration. Certificates and gifts were also given out to the kids by Fr. Chris as a token of encouragement in their journey of faith thus far. It was a unifying experience as the faith educators came together to celebrate this milestone in their children’s life.
Some of the kids heartily volunteered in sharing how they felt on their special day.
“I felt nervous before receiving Jesus for the first time, but after that I felt happy.” – Darren Thomas
“Before doing the reading I felt nervous as I thought that I would mess up. After that I felt relieved that I had done it correctly. I was excited to receive Jesus for the first time and now I am really happy that Jesus is in me.”- Emily Low, lector for the first reading.
“I was nervous to sing because I thought that everyone was going to look at me, but I felt happy because I got to see my godparents before I sang. I thanked God after I had finished singing. Before receiving Holy Communion, I was hoping that the host will taste good. It felt nice although the wine was bitter. I feel really happy because I feel like God is with me.” – Troy Patrick Fernandez, psalmist.
“Sebelum buat pembacaan saya segan dan takut, tapi lepas itu hati saya senang. Saya rasa gembira tapi takut sebelum Ekarisiti, tapi lepas dapat roti kudus, saya rasa gembira dan hati pun senang.” - Rachael Natalie, lector for the second reading from the BM speaking group.
Indeed, these children would not have made it thus far without the grace of God coupled with the dedication of parents and teachers who continue to share the gift of faith with them. To all the teachers who made it possible; Sahaya, Charmaine, Daphne, Ellie, Elizabeth, Christella, Alfred and John, thank you on behalf of all the parishioners of Good Shepherd. The Catechetical Coordinator of Good Shepherd, Dr. Donnie also expressed his heartfelt appreciation and thanks to all teachers, parents and godparents who worked together in guiding these children. It was a beautiful celebration with a combined effort from the educators of all the language groups.
As these children continue to discover the wonders of Christ and His love, let us as a community of Christians united in Christ, continue to keep them in our prayers that they will continue to experience the gift of a faith-filled life and will grow to embody the virtues of Christ in their lives.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”, Proverbs 22:6.