First Communion Program 2014-2015
What Happens When
Mandatory Parent Gathering: Come to whichever time is best for you.
Thursday, January 8: 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Sunday, January 11: 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
Thursday, January 22: 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Sunday, January 25: 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Deadline to Request First Communion Retreat Date and Time
February 9, 2015
First Communion Retreat: At least one parent and the First Communion child
Saturday, March 7: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Saturday, March 14: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
NOTE: Parents from previous years who had 2 or more children receiving the sacrament suggest at least one parent per child attend this event.
Family at-Home Preparation: Religious Education classes--Utilize books and materials sent home with child from classes. Blessed Sacrament School families, utilize the materials of your child's classroom teachers.
To be completed by First Communion rehearsal date
Instructional Masses in Church for 1st and 2nd grade Religious Education families and students during class time
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Monday, April 13, 2015
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Rehearsals take place the Tuesday before your child's First Communion date. The First Communicant and one parent attend. Please note that rehearsal date and time are based upon your assigned First Communion date and therefore cannot be shifted. Children rehearse in groups together based on who will be receiving at that Mass, so it is essential that children attend rehearsal at the assigned date and time so they have context for who will be receiving with them.
First Communion Celebrations – Each family will have an opportunity to choose their top preferences following the parent meetings in January. We cannot guarantee that everyone will get their first choice due to space in the church. Our hope is to create an atmosphere that supports your child's relationship with Christ and therefore have guidelines in place that allow for us to focus on the Sacrament. As we now have 3 parishes in the Collaborative that require proper Pastoral coverage for sacramental events, we have decided to reduce the number of celebrations at our parish in order to ensure your child's celebration is a success. For those families who required specific dates, due to relatives arriving from other countries, please contact AnneMarie Dion, after the parent meetings in January, to discuss additional Mass date options.
Saturday, May 2: 1:00 PM (Group Mass-- maximum of 40 families)
Saturday, May 2: 4:00 PM
Sunday, May 3: 9:30 AM
Saturday, May 9: 1:00 PM (Group Mass-- maximum of 40 families)
Saturday, May 9: 4:00 PM
Sunday, May 10: 9:30 AM
First Eucharist in Context
We all know how important First Communion is. Families look forward to seeing their child receiving the bread and wine for the first time. It is central to our tradition because it announces that this person can now do what everyone else does at Mass, come forward to be fed by God. In the early Church it was the final step in initiation. The sacrament a person received when they were finally ready to understand the gift God offers to us all. Today it has become such a big event that often the celebration of First Communion for the child overshadows the reason for it. The purpose is to initiate the child into the Catholic faith. It marks a step along the way of coming to know how closely God is involved in our lives. God who gives us life itself provides the very nourishment that will enable us to be good, yes holy i.e. whole, human beings. The First Eucharist program at Blessed Sacrament parish is designed to help families give their children a way to experience faith as something they can recognize and grow with.
One aspect of this approach is the organization and seating for celebrating First Communion. There are no assignments by school or Religious Education class, instead sign up sheets will be sent home and all parents can select a Mass for their family. Families are then assigned a full pew at the Mass of their choice so that families sit together with the First Communicant.
Although this sacrament is often received by children in the second grade, older children who haven't received this sacrament are welcome to participate. The parish program does not put older children into a setting with younger children. Contact Ann Marie Dion for information and details.
Overall Family Participation
Families should try to establish two habits, if they aren’t in place already.
First, come to Mass as often as possible. Coming each week is the goal. If some pattern of regular Mass attendance is not established as a family habit, children will not really understand First Eucharist and they will have little basis for practicing the Catholic faith as they get older. If you value the sacraments enough to send your children for Religious Education then you have to consider a regular pattern of attendance at Mass to be a crucial part of the program.
Second, do some kind of prayer at home each day. It could be a prayer in the morning, a meal prayer, an evening or bedtime prayer. The preferred choice for this year would be to say the Our Father because that prayer is the one that enables them to more fully participate at Mass. Your pattern should always be the same, begin with the sign of the Cross and say the Our Father together and end with the Sign of the Cross. If the child already knows the Our Father by heart then a meal prayer or the Hail Mary would be good. Look at the Prayer Program on our website.
Religious Education Classes
Children should be part of the Religious Education program at Blessed Sacrament or a student at Blessed Sacrament School. These classes are part of the formal education in the Catholic faith. Religious Education students focus on the Gospel stories of Jesus’ life so they can come to know him and what he taught.
In the past, this instruction was just for students. Beginning in 2010 we asked parents to come if at all possible. At your child’s normal class time check-in at the classroom then go to church and sit with your child. One of the priests will demonstrate a complete liturgy. There will be special materials for both children and adults to take home.
There is one parent meeting offered at two different times for your convenience. At least one parent from all families who want their children to receive First Eucharist at Blessed Sacrament parish should attend. This is your opportunity to get the details about the celebration itself and to review your own understanding of the sacrament and its place in your family life.
First Communion Retreat Day
This special Saturday retreat is a highlight of the preparation for First Eucharist. Families are assigned to a retreat day so the group at each retreat is the same size. At least one parent and the First Communion child must attend. We will have a jelly sandwich and juice snack to start, then make the First Communion banner, bake bread, see a movie, sing and pray together. Parents and children have a very good time together and learned something besides. Bringing pre-school children with you to this retreat is somewhat difficult. If finding a babysitter is a problem, let me know and I’ll try to arrange childcare.
The family folder that is taken home from the retreat contains a variety of preparation materials including a new preparation book. This workbook is a colorful engaging resource that lays out the sacrament in six lessons. The expectation is that all families will use the materials to introduce their children to understanding that Jesus feeds us with his presence in the bread and wine of Holy Eucharist.
This is the concrete practice and learning experience so children and parents will be comfortable and able to fully participate in the First Eucharist celebration. We rehearse everything from procession to actual reception of the bread and wine used as Mass so that kids know what to expect. A parent or one adult member of the family that will be in the pew should attend.
First Communion Day
Families should arrive 30 minutes ahead of time for the large group Masses, 15 minutes for the regular Sunday Masses. Children sit with their families in Church. Each family has a full pew at the Mass of their choice. There will be a worship booklet that gives all the prayers, songs and responses so everyone can fully participate.
In the past, 100% of the girls have worn white dresses. Importantly, this is a sacramental occasion in Church for very young children, therefore, girls need to have dresses that cover their shoulders and have sleeves. The dress could be any pretty Spring dress; not necessarily a traditional “Communion dress.”
Roughly one quarter of the boys, recently, have worn white suits. However, boys could choose to wear any color suit or sport coat. At minimum they are required to wear a jacket, tie and dress pants. Leather shoes, no sneakers.
Note: If you want a traditional communion outfit, do not wait for Spring to buy them, they will sell out fast after mid-winter.
You should have supplied the Baptismal Certificate when you registered for Religious Education classes or Blessed Sacrament School. If not, you need to provide a copy now. Please contact the church where the child was baptized, explain he or she is receiving First Eucharist and ask for a copy of the record. If your child was baptized at Blessed Sacrament fill our this form so we can look up the records.
If you have any questions any time throughout the year do not hesitate to call Ann Marie Dion at the parish house, 508-668-4700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for wanting to celebrate this sacrament as part of the Blessed Sacrament community.