Eucharist (First Communion)
It is with great joy that St. Joseph Church welcomes children in grades two or three to the process of preparing to receive the Sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. These Sacraments mark two very important steps on a child’s faith journey. Our prayer and hope is that, through this preparation process, this time in your family’s and child’s life will not simply be a ritual but a period of true faith growth.
To prepare your child for these important Sacraments, the parish, family and Catholic school work together to pass on the faith. At school, children learn much of the background and foundation of these Sacraments; at home, the family reveal to children how these Sacraments are lived out daily and at the church clergy and catechists work together to ensure that candidates are properly instructed on the meaning and significance of the Sacraments they will receive and how they are celebrated.
The Preparation Process
Most of the preparation takes place at the church through six 90 minute gatherings. However, parents will be expected to complete some homework with thier children too, using some videos and workbooks. This year, five different preparation groups are available to accomodate the different needs of families. Each group begins at different points in the year, gathers on different nights of the week and works at a different pace. Don’t delay in signing up as registration will close on January 18th, 2024.
Doesn’t this all happen at school?
The Sacraments are about a faith relationship found within the community of the Church, not membership in a school. Eventually, students graduate from their school; they may visit, but their school will not be the place they go back to for healing in a moment of crisis, for sacramental care in a time of sorrow or joy, or for direction when they are called to grow and mature in life. A parish, a faith community, is a family one never graduates from, and through the Sacraments one declares, “I want to be a member of a community of faith for life”. Through our community, the faithful, including our children, grow and become who God wants them to be!
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is no mere ritual, but offers a special opportunity to experience the great love and mercy of God, assuring us of the forgiveness of Jesus and reminding us how nothing can seperate us from God’s love. No longer do Christians need to wonder about God’s love for them.
In Holy Communion, Jesus Himself comes to us. He is present body, blood, soul and divinity under the appearance of bread and wine – what a mystery! In this great Sacrament we experience union with God and with our brothers and sisters more closely than anywhere else on earth. This is the greatest sign of God’s love for us. No longer must we wonder about God’s presence among us; in the Sacrament of the Eucharist we know God chooses to remain with us till the end of time. Those looking for God will find him in our churches or in the Celebration of the Mass.
Four Steps to First Communion
Step One – Enrol
Families living within the boundaries of, and registered and worshiping at, St. Joseph Church in Bowmanville are welcome to enrol their children to begin prepare for First Reconciliation and First Communion. While enrolling, parents will be asked to choose a group to join. At the first gathering, all material and details needed to begin preparation will be given.
While enrolling your child, you will be asked to provide a copy your child’s Baptismal Certificate. Certificates can be obtained from the parish where their child was Baptized. These can be brought to the welcome get-together or uploaded. Those baptized at St. Joseph Church do not need to provide a copy of their certificate.
While financial concerns will never prevent a child from receiving a Sacrament, we do ask for a $50 stipend to cover the cost of materials. This can be brought with you to the first gathering or given online.
Candidates from Other Churches
Ordinarily, a candidate for any Sacrament should receive this Sacrament in his or her own parish, usually the closest parish to where they live or where they regularly worship. If a child from a parish other than St. Joseph Church wishes to receive the Sacraments of First Reconciliation or their First Holy Communion at St. Joseph Church in Bowmanville, we ask him or her to obtain a letter of blessing and permission from the parish pastor.
Ready to enrol? Pick a group to join!
Step Two – Join a Rite of Welcoming
Preparing for First Communion is no private matter, but something our whole parish celebrates. So the people of our parish can support your child through prayer, your family is invited to participate in one Rite of Welcoming. This short ritual is celebrated during any Saturday evening or Sunday Mass on these weekends:
November 4th at 4:30pm, November 5th at 9am, 11am or 7pm
February 3rd at 4:30pm, February 4th at 9am, 11am or 7pm
Step Three – Participate in the gatherings
Come to the six 90 minute group gatherings on the dates you selected when you enroled your child. You can verify the date of the first gathering by looking at the confirmation email you received when you signed your child up to prepare for First Communion. All other dates can be found by scanning the QR code on the cover of your child’s workbook. The same QR code can be used to check progress, contact the priest and eventually pick a First Communion date when all the work is completed.
At the first gathering, you’ll receive everything you need to begin preparing. Please bring the $50 fee with you if you did not pay online. Additionally, if your child was not Baptized at St. Joseph Church and you did not upload your child’s Baptismal Certificate when you signed up, you’ll need to bring this certificate too.
Can’t make a date? Missed a Date? No problem! Scan the QR code on your child’s workbook or click here to see alternative dates to make up a missed gathering.
Step Four – Complete all homework
Preparation is ongoing, so parents, as the primary educators of children, are expected to assist thier children in completing some homework. This homework typically takes 30 to 45 minutes a week for five weeks.
Pick a First Communion Date
After completing all preparation, you’ll be invited to pick a date for your child’s First Communion!
Participation at Sunday Mass
At baptism, parents promise to raise their children in the practice of the faith. Through the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion, candidates are strengthened in their Christian commitment and begin the process of taking personal responsibility for building good faith habits. This is, indeed, a grace filled time for candidates and family members alike. The most consequential way parents can help their children prepare for any sacrament is to participate regularly with him/her in the Sunday Eucharist (every week).
The Sunday Eucharist is at the very centre, the “heartbeat”, of the Catholic Christian; it is, after all, what receiving the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion are all about. Every aspect of our Catholic life, everything else we do, is rooted in our celebration of the Sunday Mass and without it our Christian lives are incomplete. It is important that our actions match our intentions, so candidates looking to receive these two Sacraments who also intend to not enter a church again for some time afterwards should question whether or not this is the appropriate time in their lives to receive these Sacraments.
At St. Joseph Church in Bowmanville, your family are invited and welcome to join any our Sunday Masses designed to fit any busy schedule:
Saturday, 4:30pm; Sunday, 9:00am; Sunday, 11:00am and Sunday, 7:00pm.
May God bless you as you continue on your journey of faith. Of course, if our parish can be of any assistance or answer any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. The entire parish community shares your excitement as you prepare for these beautiful Sacraments!