When Hot Dogs Were Fish and First Holy Communion

Shortly after our Baptism and First Confession, Fr. Ostrowski took Renee and me out for lunch to celebrate, AND he did this on his own dime!  I thought that was so terrific that a priest would take so much interest in us kids.  It was an amazing thing to me and Renee.
The place where we went to lunch was in our neighborhood of McKeesport, but after this many years I sure as heck don’t remember the name of the place.  So there we were, with this priest who is telling us to order what we wanted.  WOW!!!  Nobody ever told us we could do that, ever. 
So, as I recall we had something like hot dogs and hamburgers and drinks and fries. . .I believe.  As we were about to say the blessing Fr. Ostrowski remembered something.  He remembered it was Friday!  Now in the Catholic church in the early 60’s Fridays were no-meat days. . .soooo, Fr. Ostrowski said the blessing with us before meals and then blessed the food ~ making the sign of the cross over the food and proclaimed “Fish!”  We all had a good chuckle and went on to eat our food.
The next thing we did was go to a religious articles store.  He wanted to buy us each a Rosary, so he asked us what color we wanted.  After we had chosen the color, he paid for them, blessed them and gave them to us as a gift for our Baptism and First Confessions.  It was one of the nicest things anyone had ever done for us.
Fr. Ostrowski then began to instruct us on Holy Communion.  He told us about Communion and had us practice how to receive Holy Communion in the rectory.  I have to say I felt kind of funny sticking my tongue out for a priest, communion or no communion.  It was something that you just don’t do.  Besides, I felt kind of embarrassed to do it.  I don’t know how Renee felt about it.
The time had come when instructions were over and First Communion was just around the corner.  We were so excited.  Fr. Ostrowski just told us to pick a Sunday and come to Communion just like everybody else and he will give us Holy Communion.  Mom and Dad were told the same thing.  So we decided on December 23, 1962. . .it was exciting to receive our First Holy Communion just two days before Christmas.  It was for us a big Christmas present.
The day was here!  Renee and I walked to Church and received the Holy Eucharist with everybody else.  No special dress or veil, no notice to the congregation.  It was all very silent.  I’d like to think that the Angels in Heaven were applauding and screaming with joy that day.
I will always remember Fr. Ostrowski with great fondness. . .he was a good man and a great priest.  May God bless him always.
Sandy Ozanich (c) May 2013

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