Children entering Year 3 of primary school or above are eligible to prepare for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing in which we celebrate the joy of being forgiven. The Sacrament of Holy Communion is an opportunity to grow closer to Jesus and His Church through participation in the Mass including receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Reconciliation and First Holy Communion (FHC) Preparation Classes
Preparation usually takes place from January to May/June in our parish. Until now preparation took place on Sundays (just before and during Mass). But as from January 2024, preparation classes will take place on Saturday mornings but avoiding school holidays. The preparation of children is undertaken by catechists.
What is also new is that each child MUST attend ALL of the FHC sessions and STAY with their parent throughout. This will help parents to better understand the FHC programme content, support their child’s ongoing development at home and to meet and support other parents.
Course Preparation Book
We use the ‘I Belong’ programme which prepares children for both the Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. It also teaches children about the Mass. It is important that parents go over what the children have covered in each session and complete, at home, with their child, the ‘Family Time’ located at the end of each chapter.
Parents are given, at the start of the course, a copy of the First Holy Communion preparation timetable containing all the sessions dates, times and locations including the First Holy Communion Celebration Mass so that it can be placed in the family diary and shared with family and friends.
Parents will be given 2 certificates. One upon successful completion of their child’s first act of Reconciliation and the other upon on making their First Holy Communion. These certificates should be kept safe, as they may be requested when applying to Catholic schools or receiving other Sacraments.
It is very important that parents are prepared to make the following parental commitments:
- attending the parent information meeting,
- supporting the enrolment of your child on the programme,
- bringing your child to each FHC preparation session and stay with them throughout,
- completing sessional ‘Family Times’, and
- attend catch-up session(s) if any are missed.
As children are required to have been baptised before making their First Holy Communion you must provide evidence of baptism i.e., a copy of your child’s Baptism certificate, at the start of the FHC programme.
When a child reaches 7 years of age, it is considered they have reached the age of reason and know the difference between right and wrong. We have to say sorry to God for our sins and be reconciled. That means we need to sort things out with God and become friends with Him again. We call the sacrament that achieves this ‘The Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession’.
We celebrate all the times God forgives us when we are reconciled with Him. When we go to reconciliation in our church, we are celebrating with all the people in our church.
We tell the priest, who is standing in for God, the things we have done wrong. He listens carefully to what we have to say. Nobody else will ever know what is said to the priest or that which the priest says back. What is said, is between the person and God. A person can tell anything they want to the priest because in reconciliation the person is really talking to God who is the loving rescuer. So, reconciliation is about: celebrating being rescued, getting God’s help to not sin in the future. The sacrament gives us hope and strength to deal with the challenges of the future and the promise that God will help each one of us to be more loving in the future.
So, in reconciliation God helps us get it right. A child is prepared to make their first reconciliation as part of their first Holy Communion programme which is run, usually annually, in our parish.
Holy Eucharist / Communion
The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion) is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, together with his Soul and Divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine.
If you would like to find out more about these sacraments, please contact Fr Leo parish priest or Deacon Barry, parish deacon.
Based on Chapters 4 and 5 Urquhart A, ‘I Belong: Preparing for my First Holy Communion’ Redemptionist Publications March 2014, and ‘A Catechism of Christian Doctrine’, Penny Catechism, CTS Publications, 2015 pg. 59