Remember When Part II, First Penance and Communion, by John Prokop

So many people asked me to do a Part II to my “Remember When” that I did last summer so here it is. I hope you enjoy another trip down Memory Lane.

I have so many fond memories of St Casimir Church and School. I especially remember when the events there were linked together like when I made my First Confession, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation. They were special events that required, prayer, penance and preparation. Often times years before they happened, they were anticipated events that were significant in one’s life.

My First Confession, I remember so well, how hard I worked at memorizing all my sins so I wouldn’t forget and leave any out. I tried to be so precise in the number of times I committed them. Back then our memories were quite sharp, clear, and fierce. But when you knelt in that dark confessional box your soul surely felt the fear of the Lord and the good priest who was behind the screen. There was no better deterrent to sin than having to go to Confession. When the lines were long, it just gave you more time to think about all those commandments and all the sins they contained. I often thought the 10 Commandments were multiplied by 10, when the nuns went through the “Examination of Conscience.”  How dare we forget any of those venial, actual or God Forbid Mortal Sins!  I often wondered how could there be so many sins to commit. Your worst fear was the priest having to ask you any questions, or worse ask you to repeat what you said. This would happen when you almost whisper your sins, hoping no one in line would hear your Confession. How embarrassing to come out from the Confessional and have your buddy ask, “What took you so long, you must have been in there for almost 5 minutes!”

First Holy Communion was one of your happiest days of your life, not to mention the party that followed this Holy Occasion.  The party lasted all day, the pictures never stopped being taken and your entire family would meet to celebrate. Every Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and distant relative was there. You finally felt like a real Catholic because now you could go to Communion.  You also got to drink as many of those small “Little Toms” (those cherished flavored soda pops) all day long. Your tongue was purple and your lips were orange and your shirt had strawberry stains on it! We just couldn’t drink enough of them in one day!

Confirmation was another special occasion. You got to add a new name to your name. What a dilemma to pick a name that would become a part of you and your persona. Whose name would you pick? Which Saint do you want to be like and fashion your life after. I had it narrowed down to four names and kept reading the infamous “Lives of The Saints Book” over and over, waiting for one of them to send me a sign so I would know which one I should pick. Finally one morning I just woke up and knew.  Saints like prayers, work in strange and mysterious ways.

All these special and wonderful spiritual occasions took place in our very own neighborhood St Peters’ Basilica, also known as Saint Casmir’s Church. What a grand, beautiful and holy place it was, filled with special lifelong memories, from special times.