By Lindsay Steele
Receiving first Communion and being confirmed are significant moments in the lives of Catholics. Knights of Columbus in the Albia and Centerville area want to ensure that reception of these sacraments is unforgettable for youths in their communities.
Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Honor Guard, James R. Baldridge Assembly No. 1925, salutes the children before and after they receive Communion for the first time at St. Mary’s in Albia. The Knights also recognize those being confirmed in Albia, as well as those being confirmed at St. Mary’s in Centerville.
Denny Amoss, a longtime member of Knights of Columbus Council 4167 of St. Mary Parish in Albia and the Fourth Degree assembly, said the special gesture is part of the KC’s mission. “The Knights of Columbus was set up to take care of the family, to take care of the kids,” he said. “We explain (to the kids) that we are doing it for them because it is a special event in their lives … it’s giving reverence to the service.”
Religious education directors in Albia said that the KC’s presence makes the event more meaningful for both the children and their relatives.
“There is just something about people coming down (the aisle) and having the honor guard (there),” said Jackie Maddy, director of religious education at St. Mary’s, Albia. “The importance of the sacrament is taken to a higher level.” “It makes it celebratory,” added Sharon Crall, assistant religious education director.
The Fourth Degree Knights have been celebrating the children’s reception of the sacraments for several years in the region. Crall said the gesture not only adds to the ceremonial aspect, but helps the children to know the community supports them. Albia’s first Communion Mass includes children from parishes in Georgetown and Lovilia, and includes Melrose for confirmation.
Amoss said many of the kids see Fourth Degree Knights in regalia for the first time at the first Communion Mass. Crall appreciates witnessing the children’s reaction to the honor guard. “They are just in awe of these men all dressed up.”
The religion educators believe the special tribute can serve as an evangelical tool. Some people who attended the Mass just for this occasion may be inclined to attend more regularly. “We’ve had people come back because a little relative had their first Communion (here),” Crall said.
This year, Amoss served as both Knight and relative, as his granddaughter Avery Major received her first Communion at St. Mary’s in Albia. But even when he doesn’t have a relative participating, he said the Fourth Degree Knights usually know the children and are happy to be there for their big days. “It’s knowing these kids and showing that we care,” he said.