Catholic at Home: Marking milestones

Catholic at Home

Jennifer Antkowiak

As we sat in church waiting for the Baccalaureate Mass to begin, I reflected on so many other times we had been there.  

Sunday Masses, yes, and also baptisms, reconciliations, first Communions, confirmations, weddings, funerals. So many family milestones, in His house; given such depth and meaning through the sacraments. 

On this day, members of the grade school class who graduated from high school in 2021 came back home to the church where they had gone to weekly Masses and had made their first Communions.  

After the homily, these young adults—many now taller than their parents— were congratulated and blessed. They were also given a beautiful gift and card that encouraged them to stay connected to the Church and to share the love of Jesus as they find their way in our world. 

My family is celebrating two graduations this year—our son from college, and our daughter from high school. This Mass was held in the church attached to the grade school that all the kids attended.   The name of the school has changed through a merger as part of the diocesan schools regionalization plan. And, our church building is one of eight that make up a new parish with a new name—part of the diocesan On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative.

At first, those changes were not easy for me to accept. I had great love for those names and what they represented. Those parish and school communities have been my points of reference, my spiritual home.

Yet, as I sat and reflected, I realized that the name or location of the place truly didn’t matter. What mattered was the fact that we were there, wrapped in the sights, sounds, and scents of His home, as part of a Church family. 

As a mom, inviting Jesus to be part of the journey has given me such comfort as the kids grew and moved on, as we experienced these bittersweet moments of pride and recognition.  God’s messages to us through the sacraments help us to transition through these rites of passage.  

Whether for sad or happy reasons, transition is change, and most of us need support as we move into new territory. I’ve found constant support through my relationship with Jesus. 

One message He brings as we mark milestones is simply to have faith. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of time (Matthew 28:20). Jesus said that as he ascended to His Father. To truly know that we will never have to go through anything alone is life changing. 

Jesus gives us hope, and I sensed it deeply in that church. We can have courage through transitions, knowing that He has plans for each of us, and that He has our back. 

An ongoing message from Jesus which resonates as we mark milestones, is that of love. He has unconditional love for us, and we are called to love one another as He loves us. 

No matter where our lives have been, or where they lead, having Jesus with us amplifies the happy times, and brings great comfort in the difficult times.  

As you watch your families grow, I pray that you may feel Jesus’ support. Throughout all the changes, He is with you, offering His messages and His gifts of faith, hope, and love.