First Communion at St. Paul Church is a celebration of faith and family [photos]

    Gisella Kauffman has spent two years preparing for this day. Dressed in white from head to toe, she will enter St. Paul Church in South Philadelphia to receive the sacrament of First Communion.

    Gisella Kauffman tugs on her gloves, trying to get her tiny fingers to fit. A veil of white falls across her face, momentarily interrupting her attempt. Her eyebrows wrinkle and the corners of her mouth curl in frustration.

    Gisella, 8, has spent two years preparing for this day, attending weekly catechism classes. Dressed in white from head to toe, she and her classmates will enter St. Paul Church in South Philadelphia to receive the sacrament of First Communion, an important step in their initiation into the Catholic faith.

    At home, before the event, Gisella’s mother Francesca helps her with her makeup and adjusts her veil. As she holds her bouquet of fresh-cut flowers, a quiet smile of innocence illuminates her face. Soft Sunday morning light pours through a living room window.

    Her father, Michael, joins her at the dining room table and they open Communion gifts, which include Rosary beads blessed by Pope Francis.

    Her grandfather, Alberto DiRenzo, 73, originally from Monteroduni, Italy, embraces her. Love and family surround her as she takes a step toward a communion of spirituality and faith.

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