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Monday, February 26, 2024

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8 Gallup Students Are Received Into the Church

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“Best day of my life!”

Several days after being confirmed as a Catholic and receiving the Eucharist for the first time, Joseph, a fifth-grade student at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Gallup, is still beaming.

On December 8, 2023, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, eight young students were received into the Catholic Church. Several were baptized, confirmed, or received their First Communion.

Sr. Mary Rita, who teaches 2nd and 3rd Grade, approached the parents of students in her classes who were not baptized, and was overjoyed when they gave their consent for their children to receive sacramental preparation.

And the students themselves were more than willing to receive the sacraments.

“We have a lot of students here that are not Catholic,” Sr. Mary Rita said. “We have daily Mass. When they see their friends and the witness of their friends going to receive Communion, going to confession once a month, and [we] introduce them to the person of Christ. That’s the most important thing. Our job is – yes, to give them a good education – but get them to Heaven.”

ELA and Social Studies teacher Brenda Sanchez, who also helps prepare students to receive the sacraments, said one little girl found out at the last minute that she would be able to make her First Communion as well as be baptized.

“She found out when we told her in class – her classmates were so happy. One of them was like, ‘Gabby, you get to receive Jesus!’ And they’re so happy for each other, they’re so supportive. I think they’re all in this faith journey together because they’re here at school and it makes it even more special, that their friends are joining in on the celebration with them.”

For Joseph, receiving the Eucharist was like “floating on clouds”.

“Receiving Communion was like the most special and honorable thing I have ever done. And when I received Confirmation and Father put his hands on my head, I just felt everything go away and I felt like everything was fixed. I was at complete peace.”

Other students agreed – first-grader Gracielle she loved the day because “you want to get baptized, and God loves you.”

“I feel holy and like a saint,” said first-grader Delilah.

School faculty have noticed their zeal for the faith spread outwards, into the students’ families, who have begun to attend Mass together.

“You think about the mystery of the Immaculate Conception and just how much greater that is in Our Lady, how God is so good in His mercy to share that with us,” said Sr. Mary Rita. “I mean, the whole day you’re on cloud nine because of how beautiful it was with the kids. It was just a blessing to walk with them and to see their witness, because it feeds us too.”

Featured image: (L-R) Joseph, Gabrielle, Gracielle, Camilla, Fr. Mitchell Brown, William, Delilah, Gabriel, and Aiden at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Gallup, NM.

Editor’s note: Sr. Mary Rita was incorrectly named as Sr. Cora Rose in an earlier version of the story. The story has been edited to correctly reflect her name and job role. I apologize for the error!

Suzanne Hammons
Suzanne Hammonshttp://dioceseofgallup.org
Suzanne Hammons is the editor of the Voice of the Southwest and the media coordinator for the Diocese of Gallup. A graduate of Benedictine College in Kansas, she joined the Diocesan staff in 2012.

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