First Reconciliation and First Communion
Our program at Saint Matthew consists of three parents/child gatherings to prepare for Reconciliation. Parents are the primary catechists during this formation process. The parents/child gatherings are meant to be interactive, informative, and interesting. The goal of these gatherings is to coach the parents as they prepare their child to receive the sacrament, and together the family develops a closer relationship to God and one another. There is a book that will be sent home for use by the parents and child, and the gatherings will build on the information supplied in the book. During each gathering, we hear important stories from the Bible, have special prayer opportunities, have time to share faith with one another as a family, and learn about love and forgiveness in preparation for Reconciliation.
Sacrament preparation for First Reconciliation takes place traditionally during 2nd grade. If there is a need for preparation for these sacraments at other grades or ages, contact the parish office.
Reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation will take place in a separate reconciliation service one evening in the fall. This is a family service, and all family members are encouraged and invited to attend. Babysitting is available. The evening begins with a communal penance service for the group, and several priests are available to hear reconciliations. We encourage all parents to receive the sacrament that evening as well. After all in the family who are interested in reconciliation have received the sacrament, the family is invited to follow several stations together around the church to further build the family relationship and to promote the wonderful feelings of love and forgiveness that are found in this sacrament. A reception follows this service.
Our program at Saint Matthew consists of two parents/child gatherings and a parents/child retreat day to prepare for First Eucharist. Parents are the primary catechists during this formation process. The parents/child gatherings are meant to be interactive, informative, and interesting. The goal of these gatherings is to coach parents as they prepare their child to receive the sacrament and together the family develops a closer relationship to God and one another. There is a book that is sent home for use by the parents and the child, and the gatherings and retreat will build on the information supplied in the book. During each gathering we hear important stories from the Bible, have special prayer opportunities, have time to share faith with one another as a family, and learn about the Mass and all of its special parts as we prepare for Eucharist.
Sacrament Preparation for First Reconciliation and First Eucharist takes place traditionally during 2nd grade. If there is a need for preparation for these sacraments at other grades or ages, contact the parish office.
The First Eucharist Liturgy takes place the last Saturday of April. This is a separate liturgy for the families of the First Eucharist children. Families will each be given a pew, and the First Eucharist child will sit with parents during the liturgy. At the time of First Eucharist, all children will be receiving with their parents. After all children have received, other guests and family members will be invited to receive Eucharist. There will be a reception following First Eucharist for all to gather.
Rite of Enrollment
The children preparing to receive First Reconciliation and Eucharist will be involved in a rite of enrollment during a Sunday Liturgy. This is an important step for families as they are able to state their intention. It is also important for the parish to know of and to pray for the children and their families as they prepare for these sacraments. This rite of enrollment will take place in early fall.
Blessing Cup Meal
This meal is a special time for the parents and their child as they approach First Eucharist. A Blessing Cup is made by the parents and child during the retreat day. The child is then given the Blessing Cup at this special meal. It is also a time for the family to focus on the many blessings in their lives and to experience some giving and receiving of blessings. This meal also serves as a continuation of the gatherings as we continue to explore together the beauty of our Eucharistic Liturgy. This meal is for the parents and the child. Babysitting will be available for other siblings.
Banner packets will be given to each family during one of the First Eucharist gatherings. These banners will be made at home. Each banner will have the family name and can be decorated with any materials the family would like to use. The banners are to be returned at the Blessing Cup Meal and will be displayed during the First Eucharist Liturgy and during that weekend’s Liturgies so the parish can celebrate those joining us at the Eucharistic Table for the first time.
There is a parent/child rehearsal that takes place a week before the liturgy. This is important as the children and parents are more comfortable and are able to live the liturgy more fully when they are not as nervous about what to do on that special day.
First Eucharist is NOT about what the children wear! We want the child’s experience of First Eucharist to be about receiving Jesus. So, if you follow this guideline, it will make the sacrament even more special: Spend as much time talking as a family about the sacrament and sharing your faith as you do looking for and talking about the clothes that your child will wear that day! With that being said, girls traditionally wear white dresses, and boys traditionally wear a coat and tie. However, we want the children to be comfortable, and we want the focus to be on the importance of receiving this sacrament for the first time.
Holy Thursday Liturgy
It has been the tradition at Saint Matthew the past few years for the First Eucharist Candidates to “set the table” during offertory at this very special Holy Week Liturgy where our wonderful Eucharistic Liturgy began.
The First Eucharist Liturgy does not fulfill the Sunday obligation. All children are encouraged to wear their First Communion clothes to Mass when they attend that weekend so that the parish can celebrate as these children join us at the Sunday parish liturgy for the first time!