May 19, 2000

First Holy Communion -A Family Affair

by Daniel Muñoz
La Prensa Staff Reporter

San Clemente, Ca. - Fifty very nervous young children waited in anticipation of what would be a very significant rite of passage; their First Holy Communion. It was obvious to this reporter that the 200 people in attendance were very, very proud of their children and were waiting with anticipation for them to march to the alter with their Godparents.

(Left to right): Vanessa Alejandra Bravo and Ernesto Gonzáles, First Communicants with father Ernesto, hold baby Adrian, Mom Margarita and son Alejandro Bravo in front.

Father Heath was keenly aware that today's rite was very important to the large Mexican- indigenous community of San Clemente. Many members of his Parish were recent migrants into the area and could not speak English. In a halting effort, he gamely joined with them in saying Mass in preparation for the rites of Holy Communion.

Soon it was time and the children walked down the isle towards the alter escorted by their Godparents. They were all dressed in their traditional Communion dress; tuxedos for the young men with white vest and tie and the young ladies in an ankle-length "Olan" (Dutch Linen white dress) laced with a gold and silver `encaje' (trim). A "velo" a white veil made of silk or cotton crowned their heads and flowers adorned the child's hair fronting the veil.

Awaiting the new communicants was Father Heath who greeted them and eased them through the first important rite of self acceptance of the Catholic religion. Their were tears and broad smiles on their parents faces as their beautiful children followed down the traditional path that most Mexican and Latinos follow throughout their lives.

Following the ceremony, another tradition took place at each child's home: A convivio of friends and family coming together in honor of the occasion. In the case of La Familia Bravo, this meant a feast of traditional food from the area of Guadalajara....

For this reporter, it was delicious!

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