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Sacramental preparation is offered to all families through the
Office of Religious Education and Sacramental Preparation
445 Prairie Ave. Downers Grove, IL 60515
PREPARATION FOR FIRST RECONCILIATION
Normally, First Reconciliation is offered to our parish Second Graders in the winter, sometime in January. Children who have completed the First Grade are invited to receive. Reconciliation is meant to help us grow closer in our relationship with God by remembering to turn to Him before we speak and act. It is a time to pray for His gifts of love, wisdom and forgiveness in our daily lives.
Preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation begins in October with Second Grade Parent meeting. The meeting introduces the parents to the text they will be using to work with their child at home to contribute to the preparation they will receive in Religious Education at the parish level in Religious Education Sessions or in St. Mary School. The meeting will consist of the following:
- Short lesson on the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion
- Introduction of the texts
- Hand out of the text and other resources
- Review of the schedule
Although it is a commitment of time by the parents, the design of the meeting is to give you additional formation yourself so you can participate better in the formation of your child. The most important thing you can do to help your child in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is to know, love, and receive the sacrament yourself. If you have a knowledge and love of this sacrament, you will be able to communicate that love and knowledge to your child. The religion teachers are dedicated to ensuring that your child’s first experience will be positive, prayerful and reverent.
PREPARATION FOR FIRST HOLY COMMUNION
Normally, First Holy Communion is offered to our parish Second Graders in the spring of the year, usually in May. Children who have completed the First Grade are invited to receive. All children in the second grade begin preparing for the very sacred occasion in their faith lives; receiving Jesus in the Eucharist for the very first time.
Beginning with the First Holy Communion Enrollment Mass in February, parents and children come together for a special celebration to kick off the family preparation. This service concludes with a ceremony of blessing and receiving the Eucharist Pin. Parents are asked to bring their child to a First Holy Communion Retreat in early April. The Retreat is an experience for parents and children to move to a variety of stations that all teach about the Eucharist. The children’s religion lessons through will be the focus through late April.
PREPARATION FOR CONFIRMATION
Normally, the Sacrament of Confirmation is offered to young people in the late winter, early spring of the eighth grade year, depending on the availability of a Diocesan Bishop or Abbot. Some requirements will be applied to Grade 7. Youth who have completed the Seventh Grade in a Religious Education program offered through a Parish Program or at a Catholic Elementary School are invited.
Confirmation Preparation is a time in the life of a young person when they are mature enough to understand, with the help of their parents and sponsor, they are children of God who ready to become fully initiated members of the Catholic Church. This time is different than the other years of formation. It is the last of the Sacraments of Initiation. The adage of “Now you are an adult in the Church,” is far from the goal. Also we never promise that Confirmation is Graduation from faith formation. As Confirmed members of the Church, this is just the beginning, not the end.
Expectations for the year include:
- Completion and active participation in all requirements of the Grade Seven.
- Registration: 1) A Patron Saint Reflection Paper and 2) A Sponsor Information Sheet.
- Participation in a Confirmation Retreat. The parish retreat is held in August just before school starts. If not, another Confirmation Retreat at another local parish.
- Christian Living Journal: This is a small booklet that records the participation in acts of Living the Faith and Serving others. The journals are distributed at the end of Grade 7, so youth can begin recording activities in the summer. Acts of Living are called Holy Encounters. Serving others or Christian Service Projects are required of each candidate. There is a list of ideas in the journal. Journals are due on March 1 of every year.
- Participation in a Candidate/Sponsor event here at the parish
Bishop’s office asks each parish to send in a list of dates they request Confirmation. Once we send our dates, the work begins. His staff works the calendar then usually in September or October they release our date to us. As soon as we know our date, we will inform the families. A tentative calendar will be released to until we know the date.
SACRAMENTS FOR CHILDREN OUTSIDE THE NORMAL FORMATION AGE
When parents find their children missing some Sacraments when compared to other children their age, it can cause some concern. We encourage parents to come to the parish at the normal age, but if not we offer other options.
Children in these grades are normally preparing for the “First Sacraments” both years. If a child misses First Grade, we ask them to start there, even as a Second Grader. For the first two years, they will prepare with the children one year behind them. When the child reached Grade 4 they will be advanced to the grade of their peers.
Grade 3-5: TRACK I
Children at these ages are too old to start with First Grade. Instead they will be enrolled in class with children of their own age. They will also be enrolled in Track I, which serves children in these grades. This Track meets on Sunday mornings two times a month. We begin with the 10 am Sunday Mass, leave after the Liturgy of the Word, and meet until about 11:30 am. Parents join us after the conclusion of Mass. The lessons are Sacramental Preparation for Baptism, First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. They will receive these Sacraments on a similar schedule to the second graders.
Grade 6-8: Track II
Children at these ages will also be enrolled in class with children of their own age. They will also be enrolled in Track II, which serves children in these grades. Track II is more like the RCIA. This Track also meets on Sunday Mornings two times a month. We begin with the 10 am Sunday Mass, leave after the Liturgy of the Word, and meet until about 11:30 am. Parents join us after the conclusion of Mass. The lessons are Sacramental Preparation for Baptism, First Reconciliation, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation. They will receive these Sacraments at the Easter Vigil the Saturday prior to Easter Sunday.
High school students will be offered formation on as well. They will also participate in a program similar to the RCIA, but for minors. Families are encouraged to come forward by reaching out to the RE office. 630-960-3566 or religiouseducation @stmarygostyn.org.