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To Parents Preparing a Child for First Communion

A Letter from our Pastor

Dear Parent or Guardian,

Thank you for being a good and responsible Catholic parent who cares about the important events in the spiritual life of your child. Passing on the Church’s faith in the love of God and the values taught to us by Jesus Christ are among the most important things you can do as a parent to help your child develop into a healthy adult and to become the person that God has created your child to be.

A sacrament is a unique experience of the Grace of God that leaves us changed for the better. Before he ascended into Heaven, Jesus instructed his disciples to “Go out and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19).

A disciple is a committed and active follower of Jesus. Disciples regularly pray, worship God at church on Sundays and Holy Days, and live out the principles taught by Jesus in the spiritual traditions and charitable works that are central to the Catholic way of life. Sacraments are the Lord’s way of sanctifying and strengthening us for the life of discipleship.

Many Catholics have grown up with a practice of automatically going through the sacraments at the customary age—Baptism as an infant, First Communion in 2nd grade, Confirmation in high school—without having had much serious preparation or ongoing formation in the importance of the sacraments to an actively committed Christian life.

The result of that experience was for many generations an insufficient formation of Christian discipleship, and the statistics say it all: some 80% of the people who identify as Catholics do not regularly go to church, while 85% of children baptized eventually receive First Communion, 58% continue for Confirmation, and only 9% will be practicing their faith by the time they turn 22. The practice of just automatically going through the sacraments is no longer sufficient for the Lord’s purposes.

Because a sacrament is a special encounter with God, meant to strengthen our life of discipleship, the Church needs to prepare the person celebrating the sacrament to be properly disposed to experience it. In the case of baptism of a child, we need to make sure that the child’s parents/grandparents and godparents fully understand the significance of the sacrament and their duties to help the child grow into a serious Christian who actively practices the faith of the Church. The parish pastor and his colleagues in ministry must ensure this preparation.

As pastor, I need the following steps in preparation of your child be taken before we can celebrate your child's First Holy Communion:

  + Child participates in Mass regularly on Sundays and Holy Days

  + Child has two consecutive years of faithful participation in religious education classes - the Sacramental Preparation Class is counted as the second year

  + Child is prepared for the Sacrament of Reconciliation - this preparation is part of the Sacramental Preparation Class

  + Parents or guardians attend specific preparation sessions with the child - which I myself present

  + Parents or guardians attend Catholicism 101—which I myself teach

I hope you will embrace this important training and faith formation for your child, and for yourselves as a parent or guardian. As Christian parents and pastors, we want our children to know Jesus and faithfully fulfill the Lord’s instruction that we form disciples—committed and active followers.

I look forward to working with you and your family.

Sincerely, In Christ,
Rev. Matthew L. O’Leary

Requirements effective January 1, 2016


To read more about Preparing for First Communion, click here