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Best Practices for First Communion

It goes without saying that thorough, effective sacramental preparation is important to introducing the child to Jesus personally and knowing that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist.

Also vital is the child and parent experience during First Communion preparation, rehearsal and Mass. This constitutes a special Moment of Grace, when we have the opportunity to impact their relationship with Christ and the church, and draw them into more active participation.

Our best practices were developed to help you easily maximize the impact during this critical time.

1.      Reinforce their relationship with the pastor, their ‘shepherd’ in the church.

2.      Personalize the gift for each child, showing individual care, the way Jesus cares for each of us.

3.      Give parents encouragement and guidance on how to help their child to live and grow in their faith.

To reinforce the individual relationship between the parish and the child, the pastor himself blesses the books and presents My First Communion Bible as a gift from the parish to the children, calling each child up by name, making eye contact, shaking their hand and congratulating them on this life-changing step in their faith. The First Communicant sees that they are valued personally, creating a lasting heart-felt bond with the parish and the Church.

Next, the Presentation Page within the book is personalized for each child, as they are ‘called by name’. Some parishes have volunteers wrap each book. In addition, the front cover of the Bible can be customized with gold stamping to include either the Parish name (Holy Trinity Cathedral) or with each child’s name individually. With the name on the cover, it will certainly become a lifelong keepsake, marking this momentous day and becoming part of their religious heritage. Or, the presentation page is filled out with the recipient’s name, etc.

Remind parents about the importance of reading the Bible and modeling that by reading with them.

Best Practices for the Presentation of the Bible to the children:

When:

·        At the end of the First Holy Communion ceremony Mass

·        At the Rehearsal

·        At the reception following the First Holy Communion

·        During one of the last class meetings (with this option, it’s important to have a priest or deacon come into class to present)

How:

·        Father encourages the children to read the bible each day, when they wake up or at bedtime

·        Father asks the children to pray each day for the parish, sponsors, family, friends and their classmates as they read the bible

·        Father blesses My First Communion Bibles and gives one to each child individually, by name.

 

Why:
What would it be like if every family had a 1st Communion experience like this at your parish?

A child’s experience:

I was nervous the morning of my First Holy Communion. We had practiced, but as I got dressed in my new clothes, I began to feel how important today was going be. After my First Communion, at the end of Mass, Father Matthew spoke to our class about our future in the Church. He invited us to continue learning about Christ, to read the bible, attend Mass and Reconciliation regularly and even join the children’s choir or become an altar server.

Then he called my name to come up to the altar and he shook my hand. His eyes seemed to be smiling at me. He bent down, and told me how proud he was that I was choosing to receive Christ into my life and becoming a true member of our parish. I hadn’t thought about that. He blessed this Bible and blessed me. Then he gave me a First Communion Bible with my own name on it! I looked at it and it said,“James Harper.” That really made me feel special. I was happy and didn’t feel nervous anymore. I will never forget that day or the feeling that I had – that Jesus is close to me and I really belong to our church.

 

 

 

A parent’s experience:

We wanted Emma to receive First Communion but it was hard to drive her to all the classes needed. I could see that Emma was learning about Jesus as she began to mention little things about First Communion that she was being taught. It was a good reminder for me because my First Communion was a long time ago.

Fr. Matthew really made an impact on her too. He gave her a beautiful My First Communion Bible with her name on it. Not only that, he called her up by name, blessed the Bible and blessed her, and presented her with the gift on behalf of her parish family. She was amazed!

He told the children to read the Bible and pray every day, and come to Mass and Reconciliation regularly. He told us that he would be praying for each of us daily and asked for our prayers too. Later, she told me that she didn’t realize Fr. even knew who she was! Now Emma can’t wait to go to church again to see Father and she reads the Bible he gave her.

Deacon Bob also walked all the parents through some ideas on how to guide our kids in their faith. He reminded us of the responsibility we have as parents and really encouraged us to provide a good model for our kids. He said that we are an important part of the parish family. He really inspired me to sit down and read her Bible with her and get to church more often. The whole First Communion experience at St. Rita’s was not only a beautiful event and one I’ll keep as a treasured memory, but it moved our family to start coming to Mass every week.


 

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