First Holy Communion
First Holy Communion: A Guide for Parents
As parents, you play a vital role in preparing your children for the sacrament of First Holy Communion. This is a special occasion when your children will receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ for the first time. In this guide, we will explain how we prepare children for this sacrament in school using the Diocesan scheme Learning and Growing as the people of God. We will also give you some practical tips on what the children do on the day and what they should wear.
What is First Holy Communion?
The sacrament of First Holy Communion is also known as the Eucharist, which means "thanksgiving". It is when we receive the bread and wine that have been changed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is called transubstantiation. As Catholics, we believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist and that he invites us to share in his life and love.
The Eucharist is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church and it is the source and summit of our Christian life. It nourishes our faith, strengthens our bond with God and with one another, and helps us to live as disciples of Jesus. The Eucharist is also a sacrifice, a memorial, and a meal. It is a sacrifice because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross. It is a memorial because it recalls the Last Supper when Jesus instituted this sacrament. It is a meal because it feeds us with spiritual food and unites us as the family of God.
How do we prepare children for First Holy Communion in school?
First Holy Communion is usually celebrated when your child is in Year 3. In school, we use the Diocesan scheme Learning and Growing as the people of God from Early Years to Year Six. This scheme of work ensure that children are fully prepared to receive the Sacraments and especially helps children understand and appreciate the meaning and importance of First Holy Communion.
School also involves parents and parishioners in the preparation process. Teachers and Parish Catechists are available to help and support you and your family in your faith and in growing the faith of your child. There are opportunities for parents to attend meetings, workshops, and celebrations with their children. There are also opportunities for parishioners to support and pray for the children as they prepare for this Sacrament.
What do children do on the day of First Holy Communion?
The day of First Holy Communion is a joyful and memorable occasion for children and their families. The children usually receive this Sacrament during a special Mass at their parish church. The Mass follows the usual order of liturgy, but with some adaptations to highlight its significance.
The children participate actively in the Mass by preparing to read the Liturgy of the Word, Prayers of the Faithful, Presenting the gifts and collection and choosing the hymns. They also receive a special blessing from the priest before they receive their First Holy Communion. They approach the altar with reverence and respect, and they say "Amen" when they receive the Host. They then return to their seats and spend some time in silent prayer and thanksgiving.
After the Mass, there may be some photographs taken with the priest, catechists, family members, and friends. The children may also receive some gifts or cards from their loved ones to congratulate them on this special day and they will have a small celebration in the School Hall with food and cake usually prepared by families within the school and Parish. We also have official photos in school after the event alongside a celebration with the whole community.
There is no fixed rule on what children should wear for First Holy Communion, but there are some general guidelines that can help you choose an appropriate outfit for your child.
Traditionally, girls wear white dresses and veils to symbolize purity and innocence. Boys wear smart trousers and white shirts with a red tie and sash. The outfit should also be modest and simple, avoiding anything that is too flashy or distracting. The outfit should not draw attention away from the focus of this sacrament, which is Jesus Christ. The most important thing is that your child feels comfortable and confident in what they wear.
We look forward to celebrating this special occasion with you and your child.