At 85 years of age Bosića Esposito was more than ready for her first Holy Communion.
Deaf, mute and unable to read or write she has faithfully practiced her religion all her life and her family and parish priest say she evangelises everyone around her without saying a word.
The relatively new parishioner of St Gertrude’s Parish at Smithfield in Sydney’s south west was born and raised in Kali, a pretty fishing town on a Croatian island called Uglijan, at a time when the decisions of a parish priest were rarely if ever questioned.
Bosića’s parents were told that as she could not take part in catechesis with her peers, she could not receive the sacrament of reconciliation or communion.
But when it comes to the things of God it’s never too late, and her family say their current priest, Fr Peter Strohmayer OSPPE is their hero for arranging her reception of the Eucharist as soon as he realised something was amiss.
After checking with the archdiocese on the issue and getting the all-clear, Fr Peter asked Bishop Richard Umbers to administer the sacraments to Bosića while he was in the parish for confirmations.
“I could have given her first Holy Communion on any of the Sundays she is here but I thought it would be much more special since the bishop will be coming to allow him to do it, who has more authority,” he said.
A meningitis infection when Bosića was eight months old ruptured her eardrums and as she grew older she stayed home from school, eventually finding work in a sardine processing factory where she was her bosses’ favourite employer as the one worker who never wasted a moment gossiping.
To communicate she relies on signs that she developed with her mother, who sadly passed away aged only 59.
“Bosića is the best of all of us,” said her sister Jajića Zelencic who invited her to live with her in Sydney.
“She never gets angry, she has never missed Mass her whole life, she blesses herself with the sign of the cross before she eats, and she doesn’t eat meat on Fridays.”
So excited was the gentle, silver-haired soul in the lead up to the big day that Bosića practised receiving the Eucharist every morning with plain wafers.
“She was like a kid in a candy store, every morning after breakfast she’d go to my mum and was like ‘Let’s practice!’” said her niece Loredana Esposito.
“She can’t say ‘Amen’, but she bows her head and makes the sign of the cross.”
On the day, dressed in a new emerald-green dress and a packed congregation looking on, Bosića finally received her Lord in the Eucharist while her family reached for tissues.
“She has been such a good influence on us as a family and this was a massive deal, we were all really happy,” Loredana said.
Bosića whose face lit up when she realised they were discussing that moment, nodded and clasped her hands in a gesture of prayer.
“Sometimes I see her in church and I wonder what she’s thinking,” said Fr Peter, smiling at her.
“There’s a change in her demeanour and it’s clear there’s a conversation going on. She’s still, she’s quiet, she pays attention to everything that’s going on, and I’m sure she’s deeply praying.”