End of "First Communion" Celebrations in US Melkite Greek Catholic Church

From a letter read today, February 12, in all US Melkite Greek Catholic parishes from Bishop Nicholas Samra, mandating the end of “First Communion” celebrations in US Melkite parishes (which goes against the traditional Eastern practice of Infant Communion):

**“Some object saying that the children will miss something important in
their lives. A “First Communion Ceremony” is not a child issue but
rather it is an adult issue. I have witnessed in my 42 years as a
priest and 23 as bishop that children receiving the Eucharist since
infancy, if properly taught by their parents, have a good understand
that what they receive is Jesus! Adults think it is cute to dress up
the young ones, and have a reason for a party and gifts. Dress them up
every Sunday and bring them to Church for the great thanksgiving
“party” of the Eucharist.”

“I ask you priests and deacons especially, to walk with me on this
issue, even if you have personal objections. You should not be telling
your faithful that you disagree with your bishop in a public manner;
this only creates dissention. Teach our proper customs, and I expect
your full support.”**

Full text here:


I applaud this move. I can only pray that no major scandal is caused and that, with time and catechesis, any misunderstandings can be cleared up.

Die, Latin innovations, die!

I do too. The US Melkite Church has been in the forefront of removing latinizations but some still are entrenched as this one has been.

As the PDF mentions, First Communions are still the norm in the Middle East in the Melkite Church.

In some areas, the Melkite Church is even more latinized. In Venezuela, the Liturgy is sometimes celebrated with the priest facing the people and apparently sometimes includes use of the guitar:



and also apparently includes using unleavened bread at times:


So, the US Bishop Nicholas Samra is to be greatly applauded for his efforts to restore the Eastern traditions to his Church in America.

I suppose all I can do is hope that, over time, the various Churches will reclaim their authentic liturgical heritage. There is a difference between a development and a complete alteration. God grant us all patience, wisdom, and discernment.

This man is a truly worthy bishop.

Yes, he is. I’ve been blessed to have served at the altar with him, and I’ve met him 3-4 times. When I heard that he was being made Bishop of Newton, I told my pastor that I wished that our Ruthenian parish could transfer to the Eparchy of Newton (and he did not object)!

Why were the Melkites celebrating Latin innovations?


Sorry to say, but this versus populum table business among the Melkites is not unique to Venezuela. It happens in Lebanon as well, and perhaps elsewhere too. :shrug:

What really bothers me about the letter is the fact that the bishop has to put in writing to some priests and deacons that they need to learn when to shut up. :frowning:

A young couple who were changing Rites, put it this way; our bottom line as to why we decided to request a change of Rite is this. Our children received Jesus while their mother was carring them in her womb. So why are we denying them to receive Eucharist now until our Rite says they are ready? It seems to us that Christ has already been nourishing them in His Eucharist already. We want them to be able to continue to receive Him now!

Guess that says it all!

I am so happy that my prayers were answered and Kyr Samra was made our Eparch!!! He was my introduction to the Jesus Prayer, and it’s because of his influence that I’m Melkite. He can truly be considered a spiritual child of two of my personal heroes, Archbishop Joseph Raya and Archbishop Joseph Tawil. I hope and pray that our beloved Bishop continues to lead us in the direction he is taking us. Nothing but good can come of it. :thumbsup:

The history of Latinization in all of the Eastern and Oriental Catholic Churches is very complex and very sad. In some cases the Latinizations were all but mandated by Rome. In other cases the Easterners or Orientals felt they had to adopt certain Latin practices just to “prove” that they were Catholic. Often Latinization was done as a response to severe persecution of Eastern Catholics by none other than their Roman Catholic brothers and sisters. :eek:


Couldn’t agree more, but I just love the way you worded it.

Pani Rose - so good to see you posting here, particularly on this subject and in a way which only you can!

For me, I am so very grateful that the full rites of initiation are restored. But given that we now do not have two milestones of catechesis that exist under Roman norms (First Holy Communion and Confirmation), I do believe that the onus is now fully on parents, our catechists and our pastors to ensure that our youngsters and young adults come to their own awareness of the importance of their sacramental life in the Church.

In our parish, we are observing a First Penance for the children who are of First Holy Communion age. My youngest son is now preparing for his First Penance. Personally, I still think he is too young to fully understand this sacrament. At the same time, I am teaching 7th & 8th graders this year, and have two young men who have never experienced the sacrament of penance. It has been challenging to get these older ones to fully appreciate the importance of the sacrament as I work with them in preparation. Yet, this strikes me as a more appropriate age to attempt to do so.

BTW - I know Bishop Samra personally, and his courage and wisdom do not surprise me in the least. I applaud his efforts to restore Orthodox practices, even though it will be challenging to get all the faithful on board after years of accepting “Latinized” practices as the norm. I also trust that he will focus on the adult catechesis that will be needed to make this restoration successful in all respects.

Well, its about time a bishop puts such clergymen in their proper places :wink:

Wonderful news!!!

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our Prince of Peace.

I pray the last days aren’t long in coming. Rather to see the tribulations and the Antichrist, than to see the devil continue to turn Christ’s right hand 'gainst his left.

I have to admit that really surprises me.

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