It is with great joy that St. Joseph Church welcomes children in grades two or above 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. The Sacrament of Reconciliation gives us the opportunity to experience the great love and mercy of God by assuring us of the forgiveness of Jesus. 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. 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
This year, preparation will look a bit different. Most of the preparation will be done at home at whatever pace parents choose using a couple of workbooks and accompanying videos. There are no due dates or pressure. At 30 to 45 minutes a week, typically children can be prepared to receive their First Reconciliation in seven weeks and their First Communion in another eight weeks. It’s also never too late to sign a child up to prepare to receive these Sacraments as there are four welcome get-togethers planned for the upcoming year. This process can begin at whatever time is most convenient for families. Additionally, children will be invited to participate in two retreats.
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!
Six Steps toward 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 invited to a welcome get-together where 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 Welcome Get-together 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?
Step Two – Join the Welcome Get-Together
Come to the Welcome Get-Together at the church hall on the date you selected. You can verify this date by looking at the confirmation email you received when you signed your child up to prepare for First Communion.
At this parents only meeting, 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.
Step Three – Prepare for First Reconciliation
Step Four – Join a First Reconciliation Retreat
After completing all preparation, sign up for a First Reconciliation Retreat. During this retreat, your child will learn more about the Sacrament, make a visit to the Confessional and make their First Confession.
* Don’t move onto this step till step three is complete!
Bring the orange First Reconciliation workbook with you to this retreat. Children will only be welcomed to the retreat after volunteers have checked that all work is completed.
To sign up for a retreat, check the link in the confirmation email you received when you first signed up to begin preparing for your child’s First Reconciliation. If you cannot find this email, ask for another to be sent.
Step Five – Prepare for First Communion
Step Six – Join a First Communion Retreat
After completing all preparation, sign up for a First Communion Retreat. During this retreat, your child will learn more about the Sacrament, have a tour of the church and practice receiving their First Communion. Parents will also have the opportunity to set a date for their Child’s First Communion!
* Don’t move onto this step till step five is complete!
Bring the green First Communion workbook with you to this retreat. Children will only be welcomed to the retreat after volunteers have checked that all work is completed. First Communion dates will not be set till all work is completed!
To sign up for a retreat, check the link in the confirmation email you received when you first signed up to begin preparing for your child’s First Communion. If you cannot find this email, ask for another to be sent.
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).
Candidates and their families are strongly encouraged to participate in Mass regularly. Normally, this is done in person by going to church. During the COVID-19 pandemic however, the bishop has dispensed Catholics from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Participation in Mass through an online live stream is still encouraged.
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 inner thoughts, 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!