This past week, a reader brought to my attention that The Nashville News has been taking recent photos of Catholic youth and publishing them under the headline of such-and-such Church’s “Confirmation.” The children in these photos would be about 7 or 8 years old….
I’m guessing the Catholics in our readership (and some of the protestants as well) will already know what I am about to state, but these photos were of these children’s first communions, not confirmations.
Despite what some people who call in may think, we do not like making errors in the paper and I am sorry (personally sorry, because it was my own error). Rather than just print a correction, which this can serve as, I would like to state that this is not the first time I have had an error regarding communion in Catholic church.
The first time, I would guess I was about 6 or so. It was at a Sunday service at St. Pius X in Lombard, Ill. Though I spent most Sunday mornings at First United (Presbyterian) Church in Oak Park, I was going to service at St. Pius with my grandparents after spending the night at their house.
When the time for communion came, I ran up, because I got to stand up and because I was a pretty hyper kid in general. I had already eaten the wafer and was sprinting back to our pew when my grandparents, waiting in line, spotted me.
I received a severe dressing down (in hushed tones because we were still in church) from my grandfather for this, but then, that was a pretty common occurrence then. I’d almost call it our “thing”
“A.C. (my childhood nickname), you can’t have communion, people will get mad,” said Grandpa Pens (he always had pens in his pocket).
“You haven’t had your first communion!”
“Sure I have, I had communion last week!”
“That’s not the same thing!”
At this point, I’ve always imagined that my grandfather was cursing my Mom in his head for marrying a protestant. Realistically though, he got on pretty good with my Dad, so he probably was just cursing me for being so hyper, or himself for not yanking me by the collar before I ran up there. He yanked me by the collar a lot.
I don’t think I particularly learned my lesson at that point. Particularly since I relished exasperating my grandparents so much.
The next time I can remember having a communion issue was during my sophomore year of high school. I went to Fenwick in Oak Park briefly after my mother had an honest-to-God freak-out about the hugeness of my previous and future school, Oak Park River Forest High School.
At Fenwick, we’d have regular church services for different school events, and could take communion if we wanted (and presumably, if we were cleared to do so). We could also go to confession, but I wasn’t very big on confessing things at that point, and I didn’t think the priests wanted to listen for that long either.
This time, it wasn’t the teachers, or the priests, who I sought to annoy. Rather, my Catholic friends, who knew I wasn’t Catholic, were very freaked out that they would get in trouble if I was caught. I ate it up. Besides, rarely coming out except for these services, the priests didn’t know me from Adam.
I think I took communion every time I had the opportunity to that year. My friends were really, really freaked out, and I loved it.
Now, I should state that while the incident with my grandparents was an honest misunderstanding, my actions as a high schooler were plainly disrespectful. While I enjoyed it at the time, it was something that looking bad on it, I am not proud of.
I promise to take this as a lesson learned and to pay more attention to the age of the children in a given photo before I attach the headline to it. While I seriously doubt that I will have this happen again, I’m sure that there will be a problem with something different in the future.
That’s similar to how I feel about the communion/confirmation mix up. While I did not have malicious intent, I think this column shows that I really ought to know better.
Whether, it’s a matter of religion or just any day-to-day headline, we do not seek to have errors in the paper, and we appreciate it when they are brought to our attention, even if it does annoy me to see that I let them get on page in the first place.
Again, I am sorry for the error and we will remain vigilant to keep that sort of thing from occurring again.
–Alex Haglund, Managing Editor