| By Katie Camario

Teacher Shares the Joy of Jesus with Students and Others

When she was 16, she invited her parents to become Catholic.

As second-grade students at Notre Dame Catholic School in Hernando County prepare for first Holy Communion, their teacher, Elise Buckner reflects joyfully on her own special day. 

“It was a beautiful day, and it was a happy day. It was a day of celebration,” she said. 

Buckner’s parents were not Catholic, but she was baptized as an infant thanks to the efforts of a Catholic neighbor and friend of the family, who would later become her godmother. 

The joy she felt receiving Jesus for the first time made a lasting impression and planted a seed that would later blossom. She attended Catholic faith formation classes and went to Mass with her mother, even though her mother was not Catholic.

By her 16th birthday, Buckner desired to share the joy of receiving the Eucharist with her parents and she asked them for a special birthday present.

“For my 16th birthday I asked my parents if they would join the Church and become Catholic,” she recalled. “And my mom jumped at it, and she did. She accepted that invitation, and so in 1976, she became Catholic.”

Watching her mother receive her first Communion was incredibly moving.

“That was incredible. We were so close, and we were like best friends,” said Buckner. 

As she helps prepare the next generation for their first Communion, Buckner hopes they will experience that same joy and know Jesus' loving presence in their lives. 

“It’s not just a one-time deal; it's a lifetime. A lifetime of joy and a lifetime of sharing,” she said.