In the Roman Catholic tradition, the month of May is usually the time of “First Communion.” On Saturdays and Sundays in early May, you can still see processions of children dressed in white as they enter church to receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time. The age for this event varies, but it usually occurs in the second or third grade. In the past, as you will see in the “vintage” photos below, First Communion occurred in first grade. In celebration of May and First Communions everywhere, here are some photos of my father’s First Communion Day – May 11, 1941. Today boys don’t usually wear shorts and knee socks!
There are several photos of the procession of children into the church, St. Peter’s, located at 5th & Girard Avenues (today the church is also the national shrine of St. John Neumann). In the first photo below, you can see my father as the fourth child from the left in the row closest to the nun. He appears to have noticed the photographer! The photo that follows shows him walking out of the photo’s range. The final photo shows the girls in the procession – and since I’m sure that the rules did not change by the time I made my communion in 1975, the children are likely lined up in alphabetical order. Therefore, one of those gals is likely my dad’s first cousin, Rita Bergmeister.