MANILA, Feb. 4, 2016 – Days after the record-breaking 51st Eucharistic Congress (IEC), people as well as entire families that participated in the assembly carry home with them precious gems and insights about the Catholic faith.
Apple Stewart, a parent of one of the 5,000 First Communicants of the IEC revealed that in one of the seminars for parents provided by St. Theresa’s College before the event, she discovered more about the Catholic faith.
“There was a priest who explained [to us] about what to do in receiving the First Communion to help our children but I also learned a lot myself,” she said in Filipino.
The Cebu City Sports Complex welcomed on Jan. 31 thousands of kids, many of whom coming from poor and marginalized families, who received Jesus for the first time, marking a person milestone.
In preparation for the massive event, schools in Cebu organized seminars for their students as well as for parents who would be guide their children in their spiritual journey.
“I learned the proper gestures in receiving the Communion. I also learned that we should secure and revere the Holy Host and I was reminded about the guidelines in attending the Eucharistic Celebration, listening to homilies and receiving communion,” she added in Filipino.
According to Stewart, many parents raised concerns and questions of their own about marriage and about being single parents as well as Catholic parenting issues.
Birthday with street kids
Apple’s only daughter Zed Wyn, who received her First Communion, expressed enthusiasm about being a Catholic.
“I feel blessed because I’m Catholic, even with the scorching heat, I feel blessed to receive Jesus,” she said.
“You must be kind to each other and help each other,” Zed Wyn added when asked what she learned from the experience.
According to her, her First Communion also led her to new friends. Several of the kids were tasked to animate the IEC theme song, “Christ in Us, Our Hope of Glory,” which according to her was her favorite part.
When Zed Wyn was asked what she would do with all the things she learned from her experience, she answered: “Mom told me that my birthday celebration would be celebrated helping street children and I would really want that!”
“Be blessed!” was the 9-year old’s message to her fellow First Communicants.
Prayer in the family
Stewart said she felt blessed that her daughter was included in “this once in a life time opportunity”.
Aside from physical preparations like meetings regarding proper dress codes and specific dress designs, the Steward family also prepared spiritually.
According to the young mother, “We had small talks, we always asked [Zed Wyn] if she was excited and all.”
“In her first confession, she just said, ‘Mommy I’m ready for confession.’ She didn’t even tell me what she confessed about. After the confession, Zed became more talkative and free, I also noticed she became more mature and more of an elder sister,” she shared.
According to Stewart, the entire experience helped her realized that prayer life in the family is important in guiding their children throughout their spiritual journey.
“We need to guide the kids and at the same time its important to be bonded as a family. We will guide Zed through attending Mass together and praying, having a constant prayer life,” she said.
Apple Stewart was an active choir member for many years while her husband Shane Stewart is an Anglican, but they both encourage Zed and her younger brother Levi, to actively live their Catholic faith. (Chrixy Paguirigan / CBCP News)