FYI: We will be hosting a webinar explaining the options in greater detail, as well as outlining the online registration process Thursday, September 3rd at 7 pm.  We will be live streaming this webinar on our parish Facebook:  FaceBook Live Videos  

 

First Holy Communion and First Penance

Requirements for students preparing for First Holy Communion and First Penance in the 2020-2021 School Year

Students must be:

  • Age 7 by September 30
  • Currently enrolled and participating in religious education through a Catholic School or a parish program.
  • Baptized Catholic or, if baptized in another Christian faith, must have been received into the Catholic Church through the Rite of Reception.

If your child is not in religious ed. or was not baptized in the Catholic Church, please contact Joan at 864-4708 as soon as possible.

 

 

OVERVIEW 

It is our wish that preparation for First Penance and First Holy Communion will offer an opportunity for the candidate and his or her entire family to grow in their faith.  Given the often frantic pace of modern life, it can be difficult for parents to find the time to share their faith with their children.  Our sessions are designed to provide time for parents and children to reflect on how much God loves them, how much they love each other, and what it means to encounter Jesus Christ in the sacraments of His church. 

 

COMMUNION DURING COVID 

Mass attendance is limited.  Masks are uncomfortable.  Face-to-face formation is difficult.  There are many obstacles to participation in the sacraments. At the same time, the pandemic has led many of us to examine our priorities, and prayer has come to the forefront of many family schedules. 

Eucharist is, with baptism and confirmation, one of the sacraments of initiation.  It is another step along the path of membership in the Catholic Church, both universally and locally.  For that reason, a completely at-home preparation is not possible – people have to be initiated into a particular community, and sacraments cannot be administered via zoom.  If under the present circumstances you do not feel you could safely bring your child to Church in person for face-to-face (though still socially distant) Confession and Communion, it is more than acceptable to postpone until another year when circumstances may allow something more like what we remember from the days before covid. 

 

FAMILY ORIENTATION MEETINGS – THIS FALL 

Each child will need to come with their parent to a one-on-one Family Orientation Meeting.  This meeting will last no longer than 30 minutes.  We will release a schedule and sign-up information soon. 

 

PREPARATION – BEGINS IN JANUARY 

The most important preparation for First Holy Communion is regular attendance at Mass.  This means every Sunday and all holy days.  The sacrament makes no sense to a child who is unfamiliar with the prayers and rituals of the liturgy. If you are not able to come in person, you should certainly be participating as a family via livestream. 

Diocesan policy requires that candidates for First Penance and First Holy Communion be currently enrolled in religious education.  This religious education requirement can be fulfilled through Catholic school or attendance in a parish religious education program.  The Bishop requires that preparation for First Penance and First Holy Communion be separate from religious education and that it take place within the parish, including for children enrolled in Catholic school.   

Classes will begin in January (NOTE THAT THIS IS A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEARS) and each class will be offered twice: once on a Sunday afternoon and once on a Monday night.  There will be an online option.  Details will be released as we get closer to the start date. 

 

SACRAMENTAL CELEBRATIONS – FIRST PENANCE DURING LENT 

Children will receive the sacrament of Penance during Lent.  In the past we have scheduled several small prayer services.  Hopefully we will be able to do that again.  It is important once again to emphasize that Penance is a necessary step on the journey to Communion, and it MUST be done in person with the priest. 

 

SACRAMENTAL CELEBRATIONS – FIRST HOLY COMMUNION IN THE SPRING AND SUMMER 

We will host several First Holy Communion Masses between May and August.  Guidance from the state and the bishop will determine circumstances such as the number of child participants, guests, etc.   

 

A Parent’s Guide to Discerning Readiness of their Child Regarding First Penance 

Readiness to Begin Preparation for First Penance 

  • Has the child been baptized and reached the age of reason (about seven years)? 
  • Does the child know the difference between right and wrong? 
  • Can the child distinguish between mistakes or accidents and deliberate wrongdoing?  
  • Can the child express sorrow for sin? 
  • Can the child forgive others? 
  • Does the child pray at home and at Mass?  
  • Does the child relate to Jesus as one who forgives? 

From the CDR Instruction for Sacraments - First Penance, page 12. 

Readiness to Celebrate First Penance 
“A full and perfect knowledge of Christian doctrine is not necessary” for children to receive their First Penance.  Rather, children need to: 

  • Know the difference between right and wrong. 
  • Know that accidents or mistakes are not sin. 
  • Understand sin as deliberately choosing to do wrong, in violation of God’s commandments. 
  • Recognize their need for forgiveness from other people and from God. 
  • Know that God loves them unconditionally. 
  • Know the person of Jesus and his message of forgiveness. 
  • Understand the sacrament as a means of receiving forgiveness. 
  • Know how to receive the sacrament, that is, how to participate in the “Rite of Reconciliation of Individual Penitents” and the “Rite of Reconciliation of Several Penitents with Individual Confession and Absolution.” 
  • Understand the difference between simply telling God that one is sorry and receiving the sacrament of Penance. 

From the CDR Instruction for Sacraments - First Penance, page 23 

 

 A Parent’s Guide to Discerning Readiness of their Child RegardingFirst Holy Communion

Readiness to Begin Preparation for First Holy Communion 

  • Has the child been baptized Catholic (as corroborated by the parish’s baptismal record or by a baptismal certificate from another Catholic parish)?  Or if the child was baptized in another Christian faith, has the child been received into the Church? 
  • Has the child reached the age of reason (about seven years)? 
  • Is the child interested in receiving Holy Communion? 
  • Does the child have a sense of belonging to the Catholic community? 
  • Does the child participate in the Sunday Mass according to his or her ability? 
  • Does the child pray at home?  
  • Does the child relate to Jesus as one who loves and cares for him or her? 
  • Does the child understand that he or she is to care for others? 
  • Has the child prepared for and had an opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Penance? (The testimony of the parents that the child has participated in the sacrament must suffice, since any other form of proof would compromise the seal of confession.) 

From the CDR Instruction for Sacraments - First Holy Communion, page 13. 

Readiness to Celebrate First Holy Communion 

  • The child is a baptized Catholic and has reached the age of reason (about seven years), as requested above. 
  • The celebration of First Holy Communion should follow the celebration of First Penance.  However, preparation for both sacraments can occur simultaneously.  
  • Does the child participate in the Sunday Mass according to his or her ability? 
  • Does the child understand and believe that Christ is present in the Eucharist? 
  • Does the child realize the difference between the Eucharist and ordinary bread and wine? 
  • Does the child understand the importance of observing the Eucharistic fast? 
  • Does the child know how to receive the Eucharist reverently? 

From the CDR Instruction for Sacraments - First Holy Communion, page 18. 

 

 

Dear Parents:

In 2013, the Bishop’s Office of Christian Formation released new Instructions for First Penance and First Holy Communion.  A significant change contained in these Instructions regards the age of those receiving these sacraments.  Rather than being tied to a specific grade in school, the emphasis in the new Instruction is on readiness – you, as the parent, will need to discern whether your child is ready to receive the sacrament.  This letter is being sent to every child who will turn 7 before our first class.  A few first-graders will undoubtedly be included in this group; it will be necessary for all parents to determine whether their child is ready to begin preparation (and then to discern again whether the child is ready to receive).  You may, of course, choose to wait until next year; if so, you do not need to do anything because we will send you a new letter next year.  We have included some questions in this packet to help guide your reflection about this important matter. 

Being a parent or guardian is not child’s play.  There are significant demands placed on your time and energy on a daily basis.  As the Church continually reminds us, parents are called to be not only the first but the best catechists of their children.  It is our hope that the process of preparing for First Penance and First Holy Communion will be a time of joyful prayer for your family rather than just one more box to be checked off.  If there is anything that we can do to aid you in this process, please do not hesitate to contact us.  

 

Faithfully,

Joan Nelson

 Director Evangelization of Young Adults & Young Families

804-864-4708

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Peggy Byers

Coordinator of Religious Education

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