Each spring, Catholic parishes are invaded by adorable youngsters dressed in their finest outfits — white dresses and veils for girls and suits for boys — as they receive the Eucharist for the first time.

But guests at first Communion parties had better be careful not to spill punch on one of those dresses; there’s a good chance the girl’s parents paid top dollar for it. Yes, first Communion dresses have become high fashion for some families, with girls going to bridal shops and boutiques to choose designer dresses. Kathy Schiffer noted in an April 6 post on her Seasons of Grace blog that price tags go as high as $750. 

“Unless a little girl says yes to the dress, she’s not happy. She knows it’s her day,” Carol Harvey, a Delaware boutique owner, told the Wilmington News Journal for a story earlier this spring.  

Lest we confuse the church aisle with a runway, we should remember that first Communion is not just a girl’s (or a boy’s) “day” but a day for receiving Jesus into one’s heart.  

First Communion

It turns out Americans are not the only ones going all-out for first Communion. In an April 30 column, Dublin Herald journalist Marisa Mackle lamented the emphasis of money placed on first Communions in Ireland. 

“People who boast about money are considered vulgar, but when money talk comes from the mouth of a child it’s depressing,” she wrote. “I know I got a little money for my Communion but what I cherished most was an illustrated Bible from my godmother, and mother-of-pearl rosary beads from my grandmother. I still cherish both items today.” 

May today’s young first Communicants also remember the spiritual gifts received, especially the greatest Gift of all — the Eucharist.