Preparing for Sacraments

As parents, you are the primary educators of your children. In the sacrament of Baptism, you promised to be your child’s “first teachers in the ways of the faith” and to be “the best of teachers”. The Catholic school and parish are there to help and support you in this important task.

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As parents it is important to reflect seriously about the celebration of the sacraments with your child. It can often be difficult not to get carried away with the trappings of the celebration itself, and to keep a focus on the sacramental journey on which your child has embarked. It can also be a challenge to respond to the call to be vibrant and full members of the Church after the reception of the sacraments, and not just in the period of preparation. Your school and parish community are here to help you in this task.

 Below you will find some ways to help, support and encourage your child as they prepare for the sacraments of First Eucharist, First Reconciliation and/or Confirmation. You will also find more specific information about using prayer at home and establishing a sacred space at home by clicking here.

Parish-based sacramental preparation programmes

Many parishes are now using programmes which involve parents/guardians and the parish community in the sacramental preparation process. Parents/guardians who have taken part in these programmes often speak about how they have given their family the opportunity to prepare for and discuss the sacraments in ways that were not previously possible.

 It is important for parents/guardians to attend the initial meeting for these programmes, which are usually held at the beginning of the school year, long before the celebration of the sacrament. This will give you an overview of the programme, and ideas about how you, your school and your parish can work together in the sacramental preparation process.
Two of these programmes are outlined below.

Do this in Memory Fr Martin Delaney and Maeve Mahon

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Do This in Memory offers parents/guardians, children and the parish community the opportunity to prepare together for First Penance and First Communion. The programme is designed to take place within the context of the Sunday Parish celebration of the Eucharist. It is then continued in the home through the use of activities and resources for both parents/guardians and children. This highlights the importance of the Sunday Eucharist as a place where we gather, are nourished by the Word and the Bread of Life, and are sent forth to live the Gospel. It also acknowledges the home as the most important and significant place, where the faith of our children is nurtured, nourished and sustained. The programme begins with an Enrolment Sunday in late September or early October and then continues on one Sunday a month, concluding on the feast of Corpus Christi in June. The Sundays on which the programme takes place have been specially chosen because of the Gospel’s accessibility to the children. They are taken from the Children’s Lectionary.

Confirming our Children Alive-O Writing Team

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This programme is a series of five rituals which take place over the year in which your child is preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation. The aim of these rituals is to give the local faith community an opportunity to support the children preparing for Confirmation in a very real, public way. Where possible, it is intended that the rituals take place during the Saturday evening Vigil Mass.

 Other Ways to link in with the Parish

Join in the weekly celebration of the Eucharist Your parish community is the Eucharistic family into which your child is being further initiated in the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation. Help your child to come to know his/her parish family by attending weekly Mass celebrations. Don’t forget to continue this practice after the reception of the sacraments!

Visits to Parish Church Consider taking your child to visit the Church outside of Mass times. It is often a much quieter and more personal experience. Perhaps light a candle and say a prayer for someone who is unwell or who has died, or maybe say a prayer of thanksgiving for the gifts that God has given to your family.
 
Make use of your child’s Alive-O Book This provides an invaluable link with home, as you will be informed about what your child is doing, and you can talk to them about it.
 In older classes, you and your children can read the stories together. In younger classes, the full-colour, full-page illustrations can be a great source of conversation for you and your children. Notes for parents are often contained in the margins of the books, along with a scriptural link.
 At the back of the pupils’ book there is a list of all the formal prayers to be learned at each class level. Use these during your prayertime at home.

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Make use of the Alive-O Worksheets

The principal function of worksheets or workbook is to provide a further link between home and school, so if your child brings these home, chat to them about the content. Each sheet contains notes for parents and prayers for you and your children to say together.

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Alive-O Parent Information Sheets These sheets are sent home periodically during the school year. They contain:

  • Parents’ reflections
  • Readings from the programme
  • Prayers for home
  • Things to chat about and discuss at home
  • To Be Learned Sections

To see a sample of a Parent Information Sheet for 3rd Class: click here for front of sheet and click here for back of sheet.

To see a sample of a Parent Information Sheet for Senior Infants: click here for front of sheet and click here for back of sheet.
 

Invitations to Prayer Services at School Parents and guardians are sometimes invited to attend prayer services in the classroom or in the school. Your presence at these events is appreciated by both children and teachers alike.