My mother, age seven, at her first communion at Saint-Boniface Cathedral in Winnipeg, Manitoba. These are the first images I've seen of my mother as a child. They are beautiful and haunting, depicting a life that I am connected to yet I look at in wonder, as it feels so very, very foreign to my own upbringing.
First communion is an important rite of passage for followers of the Catholic Church. The tradition takes place when a person first receives the Eucharist (a commemoration of Jesus' last supper) signalling confirmation in the faith. Religion had a large influence on my mother throughout adolescence and young adulthood. She attended mass every Sunday. She even attended a Catholic school where she was taught by nuns (later intimating that she was physically abused by them). Eventually she would part ways with the ceremonial aspect of Catholicism, becoming disillusioned with it, but the core teachings it instilled in her – to always aim for moral good and have belief in the power of prayer – remain to this day. On this note, another beautiful, haunting image that will always stay with me, not caught on film but seared into my memory for eternity, is of my mom feverishly praying during the final months of my father's life. She always believed. Always. Religion carries some. It awakens others.
In contrast, I am not baptized and have never even set foot in Church.