LocalFaith & Life



By Meg Waters     3/31/2016

If you have a cute little seven- or eight-year-old in your life that is about to don a beautiful white dress or “big guy” suit and make their First Holy Communion – lucky you! This is an opportunity to walk with your children as they receive their second sacrament of initiation into the Catholic Church. While Baptism and Confirmation, the two other sacraments of initiation, are once-in-a-lifetime events, receiving the Holy Eucharist is a sacrament that we can (and should) receive as often as possible.

This is a great cause for celebration but the focus should always be on the sacrament and the significance of the little ones joining the table of the Lord. Much like the day a child moves from the “kids table” to the “grown-up table,” they are now able to share in the miracle of the Eucharist and participate at a new level in their Catholic faith.

It is not the dress or the party but the excitement surrounding the preparation and celebration that helps young children appreciate the significance of the occasion. The goal should be to make it special, but not to separate it from the Mass and the importance of this rite of passage.

This brings us to the subject of gift-giving. According to Olivia Cornejo, director for Pastoral Ministry for the Diocese, there are sometimes cultural differences in first communion gifts. “In addition to rosaries and first communion books, in the Hispanic community children are often given candles to symbolize the light of Christ in their lives.” Sister Francesca Tuoi Tran from St. Cecilia’s Parish notes that in addition to rosaries and books, “Many Vietnamese children are given Scapulars as a cloak to repel evil and remind the children that Mary is always with them to protect them.”

Sometimes the best and most memorable gifts are the most personal. A rosary or religious item that belonged to a beloved relative carries special meaning for the child and helps to create a tradition of “passing on” the faith from one generation to the next. We often forget how important it is for children to understand that their family members walked a similar faith journey to theirs, with the same doubts and joys that they will experience.

According to Katie Dawson, Diocese director of Faith Formation, “We stress the idea that children are meeting Jesus in the Eucharist, so gifts and celebrations that reflect this concept are very important.” Dawson suggests the Catholic Children’s Bible published by St. Mary’s Press. For second-graders lucky enough to have their own smart phone or tablet, the Catholic Children’s Bible app also by St. Mary’s Press provides a gateway to spirituality. “The artwork and graphics in both the Bible and the app are wonderful for children,” says Dawson. She also suggests a book about the child’s birth-name patron saint, or a medal or crucifix. “The most important thing is for gifts that connect the celebration to the faith – and not just ‘stuff’.”

Orange County Catholic Bookstores

There are a number of wonderful Catholic book and gift stores throughout Orange County. A new online Christ Cathedral Catholic Book and Gift store will be opening soon with a full selection of religious items, books, music and creative ideas for first communion gift-giving. This store will be accessible via the Diocesan website, rcbo.org.


St. Michaels Books and Gifts

23061 Lake Forest Drive

Laguna Hills

Catholic Gift Shop

537 West Commonwealth


St. Joseph Catholic Books

2829 West Lincoln Avenue


Catholic Books and Gifts

18921 Magnolia St.

Fountain Valley

Catholic Books and Gifts

31761 Camino Capistrano #10

San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano 

Gift Shop

26801 Ortega Hwy

San Juan Capistrano

Paulist Press Book Center

1525 Mesa Verde Drive East #120

Costa Mesa

Good Shepherd Catholic Book Shop

1240 West Whittier Avenue

La Habra