Rakovski, Bulgaria, May 6, 2019 / 04:39 am
Pope Francis Monday gave First Communion to 245 boys and girls in Rakovski, Bulgaria, telling them the Lord wants them to share the joy of the Eucharist with others.
"Making your First Communion shows that you want to be closer to Jesus every day, to grow in friendship with him and to lead other people to share in the joy he wants us to feel," the pope said May 6.
"The Lord needs you," he told the first communicants, "because he wants to work the miracle of bringing his joy to many of your friends and family members."
Pope Francis said Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Rakovski as part of his May 5-7 trip to Bulgaria and North Macedonia. Catholics in Bulgaria are a small minority -- estimated to be fewer than 50,000 in a population of more than 7 million. Rakovski, a town of around 20,000 people, is mainly Catholic.
According to local authorities, at Mass there were around 700 people inside the church and another 10,000 outside.
In his homily, Francis addressed the first communicants, pointing out that Jesus' miracle of the five loaves and two fish began with "one child who offered all he had."
"Like that child, you too have helped a miracle to take place today. The miracle by which all of us older people have recalled our own first meeting with Jesus in the Eucharist, and are filled with gratitude for that day."
Always pray with the same enthusiasm and joy you feel today, he urged.