Once the child has been baptized, the Parish takes on a heavier level of responsibility for the spiritual development of the child, even if the parent is negligent. Sacraments, after baptism, are not to be denied solely on the basis of the lack of parental cooperation. Naturally, for minor children, parental permission is required.
The other sacraments should be received as soon as is reasonable after the child has reached the "age of discretion," which may differ from child to child. (It is also assumed that there will be adequate catechesis according to the child's capacity, and that the sacrament is being requested.)
Children approaching First Eucharist are expected to have already celebrated "First Reconciliation."
The candidate is also to be, in the opinion of the pastor, "sufficiently disposed." The pastor, on a practical level, reaches that decision together with parents and catechists. "Sufficiently disposed" means:
For the catechetical programs preceding First Reconciliation and First Eucharist, it is expected that the children normally are participating fully in a parish-run religious education program (either the day school or the after school program) for the one year prior to the sacramental year, as well as the sacramental year itself. Because of the participation in a formal program, the pastor will assume the candidate has the proper dispositions, and, after the process of immediate preparation (described below), will be able to approach the sacrament. THE RELIGIOUS EDUCATION CLASSES ARE NOT THE SACRAMENTAL PREPARATION, but, rather, is part of the ongoing faith-development and religious education of the youngster. These classes have their own scope and sequence within which all sacraments are presented each year, appropriate to the child's developmental level.
For families who are not participating in a formal parish program, children who are being home-schooled, and children who are not cooperating with the religious instruction or are absent too frequently, the pastor will make no assumptions about the proper dispositions and readiness of the candidate. Rather, the parents must prove to the pastor the child's proper disposition and readiness. This process of discernment is dependent most heavily upon the parents themselves, who are to give to the pastor written responses to certain questions and issues. The Office of Faith Formation will provide these questions ahead of time to the parent. There also MAY be a personal interview with the pastor.
The immediate sacramental preparation will take the form of several workshops (typically, three for First Reconciliation and five for First Eucharist), which will focus on spiritual growth and prayerful proximate preparation for the celebration, as well as provide some familiarity with the signs and symbols.
With regard to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the goal is that each child of conscionable age will have an adequate preparation to celebrate the sacrament if they choose. There will be a series of three workshops provided by the Parish in the fall of the year, available to all families that intend to celebrate the sacrament that year. We will provide opportunities for parents to bring their children to the sacrament sometime prior to First Eucharist, typically during the season of Advent.
With regard to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, our efforts as catechists will be to present the concepts of sin and forgiveness as well as providing practical instructions for the Sacrament, at age-appropriate levels. The practical aspects of celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation should be addressed each year in every grade beginning with Grade One. This presentation (or review) would be most appropriate at those times that the regular religion lessons touch on topics of sin and forgiveness. In the cases of the youngest children, such as those in first or second grades, the practical side would be little more than making them aware that they could go to the priest if they are want to confess their sins and feel sorry, and that the priest would help them through the process. They should be at least somewhat familiar with the reconciliation room. Older children should have an easy familiarity with the form of the sacrament, and be able to pray a prayer of sorrow, and be properly disposed.
Families involved in the formal religious education programs, whether day school or after school, can indicate their desire for their children to receive a sacrament at the time they register for the formal program. This registration takes place in the spring of the year.
Families not registered in a formal religious education program of the parish, who are preparing a child for either First Eucharist or First Reconciliation within the school year must contact the Office