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 the Church through participation in the Mass and receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Preparation usually takes place from January to May/June in our parish, usually on Sundays (just before and during Mass), avoiding school holidays. It is carried out by catechists. Children return to their families at the Offertory part of the Mass.
We use the ‘I Belong’ programme which prepares children for both the Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion during the sessions. It also teaches children about the Mass. It is important that parents go over what the children have covered and complete the ‘Family Time’ section for each session. You will be given a copy of dates for the programme. You will also be issued with a certificate on reception of First Holy Communion. This should be kept safely, as it may be requested when applying to Catholic schools or receiving other Sacraments.
It is very important that you are prepared to make the following parental commitments: You must attend the parent information meeting. You must bring your child to Mass and each session. If a session is missed, you will need to attend one of the catch-up sessions we include in the programme.
As children are required to have been baptised, you must provide a copy of your child’s Baptism certificate (also available from the priest’s house), to continue working on the book at home.
For further information, please contact Fr Jeff for St Paul’s, or Deacon Barry for St Finbarr’s.
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. Doing nasty things is called sin. 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. If you would like to find out more about this sacrament or any of the other please contact Fr Jeff parish priest or Deacon Barry, parish deacon.
Based on Chapter 4 and 5 Urquhart A, ‘I Belong: Preparing for my First Holy Communion’ Redemptionist Publications March 2014