Today, June 29, 2013, St. Thomas parishioners, joined with St. Mathew Parishioners in welcoming our beloved Bishop, His Excellency, Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo, who celebrated the First Communion Mass at St. Thomas, Turlock, CA. It was an awe-inspiring celebration; significant in all its aspects, was the procession of seventeen First Communicants from both Parishes, as they led all of us in prayers and chanting hymns with their angelic voices.
The exuberant joy of our beloved Bishop, expressed a father’s love of his children, who gathered today from two Parishes, as one. His message indeed conveyed a father’s bliss, as his children are growing pleasing to his own heart, as they press forward in Faith with zeal, so to please the Heart of their Heavenly Father. And to this, H.E. continued saying; this is the front of the unity in Christ. In his sermon, H.E. Mar Sarhad spoke about that which makes our Faith exceptional. For the Knowledge of Faith, transmitted to us through our One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, corresponds intimately to the teaching of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, more exceptionally, the Blessed Sacrament of the Holy Communion.
Our beloved Bishop, reflecting on the Holy Thursday, pointed out how comparable the First Communicants are to the twelve Disciples of our Lord. Calling them the disciples of today, who were about to partake of The Precious Body and Blood of our Lord, just as His Disciples had done. Expanding further, our Bishop invited the parents to claim their role in a mutual-partnership with The Church, so that the children will continue receiving the life giving nourishment, and the Spiritual food that can only be received from the Altar. Following his sermon, our beloved Bishop engaged the Communicants into a Q&A session regarding the Seven Sacraments of our Holy Mother Church, and motivating them to pursue the next steps towards a life of Laity or even Ordained Clergy.
Following Mass, in his speech during the luncheon which was held at St. Thomas Hall, in his commemoration of the Memorial of St. Peter and St. Paul, H.E. emphasized on Unity, which has been the epic-center of his mission. As our spiritual father, unwavering, he continually aspires us to seek a Unity that is true in Christ, Who united the Apostles under the leadership of one, St. Peter. For that reason, the Church always reflects its leaders; there cannot be Church unless we are united with Peter!
“It is a reminiscence of my own First Communion” Sr. Rita, one of the mentors, responded when asked for her reflection on today’s event. She continued saying that it is all about the transformation in the hearts of these children, the works of The Holy Spirit is what we reap, and it is good. It is evident in how they spiritually mature, and this is something we see ourselves, but even more so, in their own parent’s testimonies. Bowing their heads so gently, the two brothers Majed and Mario responded “yes”, when asked if they have encountered Jesus today. Indeed they did, for it has been said, that out of the mouths of little ones, praises are brought forth.
The jubilee continued as all parishioners and the First Communicants from both Parishes, enjoyed the celebration and the blessings our beloved Bishop always brings. We are grateful to have Archbishop Mar Thoma E. George of Old Church of the East, Nineveh-Iraq to celebrate this beautiful event, and his heartfelt blessings. Equally so, we are grateful to have the Pastors of various neighboring Parishes who were invited and gladly attended our celebration today.