Being a part of the journey to First Communion is a privilege, a truly wonderful gift. The opportunity to
prepare the second grade students for their First Holy Communion was something the Holy Spirit knew I
needed long before I did.
My name is Gillian Ernst and I am the first and second grade teacher at Most Holy Trinity School. I am
originally from Cadillac, Michigan. Growing up I attended public school and was baptized on Easter when I
was in middle school. Being the youngest in my family and having moved before I was born I believe played a
role in my parents putting off my baptism. Throughout my middle school and high school years I attended
weekly CCD classes and went to Sunday Mass. I enjoyed learning about my faith and that was about it. I
didn’t do much extra and I was ok with the little knowledge I gained from the weekly CCD classes and Sunday
Masses. Fast forward many years later, I landed in Fowler, Michigan at Most Holy Trinity. I began my
teaching career in a public school system and I had a great experience and learned a great deal from the veteran teachers, however, I will say that it did not prepare me for what I was about to learn about myself or for what God had in store for me teaching in a Catholic school.
For the past five years I have had the honor to help shape the minds of the first and second grade students not
only educationally, but spiritually as well. (It sounds like a huge task when I write that down on paper!) Each
year when school begins the second graders always express their excitement for the two sacraments they will
complete. I share the same excitement because I am able to witness, first hand, this beautiful experience. We
prepare all year to be ready for First Reconciliation and First Communion. The students participate in many
discussions and question and answer time to get ready for these two sacraments. There are many times when I have to say, you just have to experience the sacrament on your own to know what it is like. There is always
buzz about what the blood or the body tastes like or what if I drop it or what if I spill the blood on me, etc. In
their little minds this is a big deal. The same small things adults worry about, the children are so busy worrying their little minds about, sometimes forgetting what the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Sacrament of Holy Communion is truly about.
“In Eucharist Christ is truly present in the consecrated bread and wine. To receive Holy Communion you must
be in the state of grace. You are encouraged to receive Holy Communion every time you go to Mass,” (a Little
Catechism, RCL Publishing, p. 74). Students are naturally curious about the bread and wine and want to know
exactly how it becomes the body and blood of Jesus. I realized, early on, that I am someone the children are
going to turn to, to ask questions, hard questions. From that point on I decided I needed to look at myself as a
Christian and how I can change. I needed to learn more about myself and how to better prepare my students to receive Jesus fully in Holy Communion.
I am so fortunate I am able to talk about my faith everyday and I am even more fortunate to learn from my
students each day. They teach me to be more ‘child like’ in my faith. I need to give so many things up to God
and I am constantly learning that every day. When I said helping to prepare the children for First Communion
is a privilege, I really meant it is a blessing. It has changed me in so many ways and I pray that I will continue
to be more open to new things and to the opportunities God has for me. Teaching is extremely rewarding and is my true vocation. Whether I am ready for it or not I know that the Holy Spirit will continue to challenge me in many ways.
On Saturday, May 5th I will be so honored to be a part of the second grade students receiving Jesus for the first
time. I look forward to seeing the excited smile and the many great things they will do each day in the future.
Thank you for all your prayers and to the parents for all your love and support.