ORLANDO | “Today we bless you because you are a special person to God and to all of us,” Bishop John Noonan said to the children of Morning Star Catholic School during his homily, May 11. “And we are going to pray for you because you are going to receive very special gifts. These gifts are going to help you on your journey to heaven.”
Morning Star’s mission is to assist special needs students in bringing out their gifts and helping them “achieve their personal best as children of God.” In that spirit, the community gathered for sacramental celebrations for students Victoria and Peter, First Holy Communion, and Raquel, Lorelei, and Ethan, Confirmation. Bishop John Noonan was the celebrant, assisted by Father Ralph DuWell and Father Edwin Cardona, parochial vicar.
Just two weeks prior, on April 23, the parish welcomed Brianna and Taylor, who became members of the Catholic Church during a special Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults (RCIA) Mass celebrated by Father DuWell.
The students prepared for their special day months in advance, taking sacramental preparation classes under the guidance of Ann Nesladek, former educator and current supporter of the school. She used an adaptive methodology religious curriculum that uses picture symbols, puzzles and activities that allow students to visualize what they are learning.
Brianna’s mother, Jennifer, was beaming with pride as she witnessed her daughter become a member of the Church. “Today is such a wonderful day for our family,” she said. “I am so proud and happy for Brianna. Today has been a long time coming.”
“It is always a special moment when students receive the Sacraments, but it is extra special at Morning Star Catholic School,” said Henry Fortier, secretary for education and superintendent of Catholic schools. “Today’s celebration is another expression of God’s diverse family all equally made in His image, from the greatest to least in the eyes of modern society. We lift up God’s little ones in honor of His great love for us.”
By Linda Caldwell, special to the Florida Catholic May 20, 2020