Welcome to All Saints CGS: a blog detailing the happenings in our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. If you've ever wondered about the atrium (the CGS classroom), or the "work" your child is doing, you've come to the right place!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

First Communion "Virtual" Parent Meeting

Greetings First Communion Parents:

I know you are all greatly looking forward to May 19, 2013!



I know that we had planned on a meeting in early October, but based on feedback from previous years, I was faced with a dilemma: if I have the meeting in the spring, no one knows what is going on until that late in the game. If I have the meeting in the fall, everyone forgets by spring!  Also, it occasionally happens that a child who was not planning on receiving this year is ready by the spring or vice versa.  Solution: I am going to have TWO parent meetings.
  1. A "virtual" fall meeting for a heads-up and overview of what we plan to do for First Communion prep
  2. An early spring meeting for parents of all children who will receive First Communion on May 19th at 10:30 mass.
This blog entry is that first meeting. In this meeting I plan to cover:
  • How we determine readiness for First Communion
  • How First Communion Prep is a part of CGS formation from 3 years old up past 2nd grade
  • How your child's particular preparation in our program will go

So first: Readiness.  

Usually we say that it is around the 2nd grade year that a child is "ready" for First Communion.  Eucharist is a free gift, given weekly, even daily, to those who have been prepared for it.  It is the summit of our initiation into the Catholic faith.  Sometimes a child who is in 2nd grade does not yet have this desire.  We try to respect a child's wishes in this regard, so that they are prepared when the time does come. We want the children to be prepared, mentally and spiritually, so that they can recognize the gift they are offered. 

This also means: a child usually will have been in religious formation for at least one year before their First Communion year.  This means that all children receiving in 2nd grade will also have been in religious education classes in 1st grade.  This is a guideline that will help separate foundational education (basic evangelization) from preparation for the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  We generally ask children to wait until this "full year" is under their belt before asking for First Communion, however, if a child sincerely asks for the Sacrament, it is rare and nearly impossible for us to deny him his heart's desire!!

It DOES happen that sometimes children who are younger than 2nd grade ask to prepare to receive.  Again, these children will have had one, or sometimes three, years of preparation before this moment.  Children in this circumstance who ask for the Sacrament will be given the chance to meet with Father to discuss why they desire to receive early.

This is why I'd like to wait until Spring for our official "in-person" meeting.  We'll have a much better idea of which children will enroll for preparation!

Next: Preparation in CGS Class

We've actually put together a whole handbook on how "lessons" or presentations your child has been receiving in the atrium are building toward a fuller participation in the Mass, and particularly inviting them to make their hearts ready for the Eucharist.  This handbook can be found on our parish website:

http://www.dmallsaints.org/First%20Communion%20Preparation%20Booklet.pdf

The long and the short of it is that the general preparation is being done each week as you bring your child to RE classes, and as you bring your child to weekly Sunday Mass.

Finally: the Particular Preparation

The "Home Stretch"-so to speak-for First Communion/First Reconciliation Preparation begins with a class pilgrimage to the Grotto of the Redemption (April 27, 2013).  Families are encouraged to make the trip with their child if at all possible, or we can arrange transportation if necessary.  You can ask parents of older youth in our program (or the kids themselves) and they will tell you that this pilgrimage is definitely a highlight!

Following the pilgrimage, we will have 4 special sessions plus a retreat.  These sessions are for BOTH children and parents.  The children will have Bible Study and reflection time (check out the handbook we linked to above!) while the parents will have 1) a special meeting to discuss more particularly (and prayerfully) your child's formation and preparation, 2) a presentation living a Sacramental Life with your child, given by a guest presenter: this year the director of St. Joseph's Ed Center, Matt Halbach, will give this presentation, 3) an opportunity for parents to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, 4) a time for parents to help prepare food and things for the children's retreat, and 5) an opportunity to sit in on your child's final Bible Study and then celebrate with them as they receive their First Reconciliation.

The dates for these special sessions are always from 6pm-7:30pm the first 3 Wednesdays in May, plus the Friday night before First Communion and 9-2:30 on Saturday for the retreat.  Here is a link to the Sacramental Flyer that details all of these dates.

What should you be doing now?

As the year goes by, you can help your child by ensuring that:
  • they are learning their prayers (Hail Mary and Our Father are key prayers for Penance for Reconciliation, and they are important to know anyway!) as well as the Act of Contrition.  
  • Attend Mass weekly as a family.  
  • Make sure your child is paying attention and behaving reverently.  This is a key readiness factor, too!
  • Ask your child's catechist or me if you have questions regarding preparation!
That is all I have for now.  I hope you feel a little more clear about how the year will go.  Please let me know if I can help you in any way!

God Bless,

Mandie DeVries
Director of Religious Education