My First Holy Communion
"...one of those rare works that can lead you easily and directly into a sense of God... it is faithful throughout to the contours of the faith, while also being marked with sensitivity towards the needs and interests of the young listener."
Dr Petroc Willey, Director, Catechetical Institute, Franciscan University, Steubenville
"It is the sort of book that a child could readily enjoy, whilst an adult would find it an interesting and useful teaching aid ...a very valuable contribution to catechetics, whether conducted at home, in the parish or in the school setting."
Religious Sister, United Kingdom
"I was completely bowled over by the book it is beautiful both in its content and in the way it is presented... I had originally bought it to use with my own son, but when I saw the way our faith is presented and how the Eucharist is explained within terms of our whole faith, I just had to see if I could get more copies to use with my pupils."
Teacher, County Antrim
“The book was very helpful even for the sisters as our faith is presented in a simple, complete and colourful way.”
Missionary of Charity
“It is a pleasure to read and to look at. The illustrations are magnificent. Their theology and insight are most profound and come from a heart that loves the Lord...Page after page reminds us of what it is all about: Our Lord in the centre.”
Priest, County Cork
"The book is beautifully produced and the teaching well constructed and I hope that it does well in the marketplace."
Missionary Priest, County Wicklow
"From the colourful cover and wonderfully written content to the lovely illustrations it is truly a blessing for me, my children and my grandchildren."
“We like the book a lot and would consider it a very good teaching tool for the P4 children who are preparing for their first Holy Communion.”
Parish Priest, County Down
Review Sr Janet Fearns writing in Catholic Times
My first impression of My First Holy Communion by Deirdre Mary Ascough was accidental: the book arrived at work during my lunch break. I duly opened the envelope, briefly admired the colourful volume and then put it down on the desk whilst I engaged in the serious business of a cup of coffee. Within the space of a few minutes, several colleagues, passing by my desk and noticing the book’s bright cover, spontaneously glanced through its pages. Interestingly, two of them have small children and the third is the mother of a young diocesan parish priest. She recommended it to her son, who has since ordered a copy for himself for use in his parish First Communion programme.
My First Holy Communion is designed for serious preparation for a joyful, but enormously important occasion. It is a ‘happy’ book, with abundant colour, pictures and smiling faces accompanying solid content. Although designed for adults to use in teaching young children, it is thoroughly child-centred. It is the sort of book that a child could readily enjoy, whilst an adult would find it an interesting and useful teaching aid. The book is intended, not only to be for the immediate period of preparation for a First Holy Communion, but also as a memento of the occasion and one that will, hopefully, encourage the youngster to return to its pages in future days. Although part of me recoiled at the thought of allowing a child to write in such a lovely book in order to complete its several Q&A sections, at the same time, if it is intended as a keepsake just as much as an immediate teaching aid, it makes sense.
In its design, there is a very attractive story book feel to My First Holy Communion. This has a dual purpose: it appeals to a small child and also allows the presentation of Salvation History in an easily digestible form, encouraging a sense of involvement within a dynamic, unfolding through the life story of its young reader. The pictures throughout the 72 pages are useful, both for discussion and for ‘show and tell’. A useful Parent’s Page offers useful explanations to those adults whose memories might be a little challenged!
My First Holy Communion was brought to birth from the practical experience of a mother preparing her own daughter for her big day. It has, therefore, a ‘tried and tested’ feel that stands independently of the trouble taken by Deirdre Ascough and Clonmacnois Press to obtain a nihil obstat and imprimatur before its publication. In other words, over and above the prodigious amount of work expended in preparing the book for publication, they were willing and able to offer it for the Church’s scrutiny to endure that it was on the right track.
It is interesting to note that Clonmacnois Press was established in order to publish My First Holy Communion and other such high quality books. The Director of the Press, Seán Ascough, writes:
“The inspiration behind the book grew from a general absence of quality catechetical materials for children. First Holy Communion is also a special opportunity for parents to explore a little for themselves and this book ought to captivate them as much as it does the children… We presently have a number of translations underway with the objective of making this accessible to as much of the world’s population as possible.”
At a time when schools and parishes are under increasing pressure from secular sources, it is essential that support is given to the families who are, after all, “the first educators of their children”. My First Holy Communion is a very valuable contribution to catechetics, whether conducted at home, in the parish or in the school setting. Whilst designed for one-to-one presentation insofar as this book is a keepsake, it can easily be adapted to a group situation: the teacher only needs to provide paper and pencils!
In short, My First Holy Communion is a potentially very useful book which will provide many hours of valuable exchange and understanding. By the time the First Holy Communicant writes the names of those who helped in the preparation, a prayer of thanksgiving and sticks his or her photo on the final page, the adults who have accompanied the little one on a very important journey should feel well-satisfied.
It is rare nowadays to be able to recommend material of a catechetical nature that is really suitable for the preparation of children for First Communion, but this book is the exception. The author of My First Holy Communion has succeeded in bringing together the basic rudiments of the faith needed to receive the sacraments in an exemplary fashion. She has also expressed these fundamental truths in a language that is simple yet profound. The book will open up the child's mind and heart to the mysteries of our faith. The text is presented with graphics and images which are both beautiful and inspiring. I have no hesitation in recommending this delightful -- and much needed -- introduction to the faith for children preparing for First Confession and First Holy Communion.
Rev Dr D Vincent Twomey SVD