This webpage aims to help parishes consider options for face-to-face and online sacramental preparation.
Inviting registrations via parishes and schools
Parents can be contacted via:
local Catholic schools and
local public schools*
* To support student spiritual wellbeing, Parish Clergy can contact local Public School Principals:
“During this time of social isolation, I ask for your support to collaboratively promote student spiritual well-being and to build community connections as per the NSW Wellbeing Framework for Schools and Federal Education Declaration spiritual and community-building strategies.
Please convey the following community message to our parents/caregivers who have chosen Catholic SRE for their children about their faith community’s sacraments . . . .”
Parish leaders and school leaders are supported by both NSW Government school policies and Federal education declarations that aim to proactively promote student spiritual wellbeing by building community connections, e.g.
“Community partners can offer real opportunities for students to safely experience, apply, internalise, enact and reflect on their spiritual wellbeing”
NSW Wellbeing Framework for Schools | Spiritual Wellbeing strategies | Building community connections
“Education plays a vital role in promoting the intellectual, physical, social, emotional, moral, spiritual and aesthetic development and wellbeing of young Australians, and in ensuring the nation’s ongoing economic prosperity and social cohesion” Introduction
“To support all young Australians to become conﬁdent and creative individuals who:
- have a sense of self-worth, self-awareness and personal identity that enables them to manage their emotional, mental, cultural, spiritual and physical wellbeing . . .
- appreciate and respect Australia’s rich social, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity and embrace opportunities to communicate and share knowledge and experiences . . .” Goal 2
Mparntwe | Alice Springs Federal Education Declaration | 18 February 2020 update
Online/face-to-face options – upskilling parents as first educators
CCD is creating downloadable PowerPoints with voice-overs (see ‘Resources’ below)
– to guide parents and their children through the Gratia Series Sacramental Preparation Children’s Activity Books
– for parishes to supply parents with a CCD webpage link; and/or, to help guide catechist/parent-led small group sessions on parish grounds
- Mustard Seed Bookshop to provide Parishes with CCD’s Gratia Series Sacramental Preparation Children’s Activity Books
- Parishes to send Children Activity Books to parents or arrange for them to collect books
- Parishes contact CCD to request downloadable PowerPoints with voice-overs
- Parishes email parents the PowerPoint files, session by session, to prepare with their child at home
- Aim: to help guide parents and child through Activity Book sessions and help up-skill parents as first educators of their children in Faith
- Parents/child to review their Activity Books with Coordinator/Catechists when completed
Zoom Webinar suggestion
- Parish Priest to record an introduction for each sacrament
- Parents to be sent CCD’s Gratia Series/other program to be worked through during session or completed at the end of the presentation
- Parents sent link to weekly Zoom webinar. This can be done in one large group or small groups.
- A Sacramental Catechist presents Zoom sessions based on a program.
- A review sheet can be sent to parents. This is to be filled out by children at the end of each session and sent back to the Parish by parents.
- Zoom session could be pre-recorded and watched by parents and child in their own time.
Face-to-face sessions – as suggested by a Parish Sacramental Coordinator
- Seminar style sessions to be held in church (if not too cold over Winter)
- Social distancing regulations upheld in welcoming one parent and their child candidate to attend
- Short, engaging sessions
- Children’s Activity Book to be completed in small group sessions with parent and child
Review of each session or upon completion
- Priest/Sacramental Coordinator may ask parents to email a smartphone/printer scan of one Activity Book page, as a sample of session completion if conducted remotely, along with asking if families have any comments or questions regarding the session
- Priest or Sacramental Coordinator to conduct interviews with families (online or onsite) to discern the child’s understanding and readiness to receive the Sacrament, e.g.
- Small group review session with 3 or 4 families at a time
- Small group reflection/retreat afternoons for parents and children – maintaining social distancing requirements – wherein Priest and Coordinator review Sacrament with each child and their parent.
Celebration of the Sacrament
- Decisions on when and how to celebrate Sacraments will be informed by Archdiocesan guidelines
- An example of a “Celebration of the Sacrament” Parish Email to Parents of Candidates appears in the next drop-down tab . . .
Celebration of the Sacrament for your child – sample email
Dear Sacramental Preparation Families,
I hope that you have all been well during this unique and strange time that we have been in.
As you would be aware, restrictions have been eased over the last few weeks and as a parish we are very happy to be able to slowly resume some of our parish ministries. While there are still restrictions in place, we feel that we can continue with sacramental preparation and celebrations even if it will require some adjustments.
We are very keen for your child to be able to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, which they so diligently prepared for prior to the lock-down period. We are pleased to be able to offer 4 ceremonies in which the sacrament of reconciliation will be celebrated, these are:
- Wednesday 24 June – 5:00pm
- Wednesday 24 June – 7:30pm
- Wednesday 1 July – 5:00pm
- Wednesday 1 July – 7:30pm
We are mindful of the strict criteria that we must still abide by. These are as follows:
- Liturgical services are restricted to [insert number] people
- Social distancing needs to be maintained
- All attendees at church need to be registered
- If you or your child are unwell, please stay at home and contact your doctor
- The church will cleaned following each service
In order to best manage our celebrations under these conditions, we ask all families to book their child in for a ceremony time. You can do this by calling the parish office on [insert phone number] or by reply email to me (please note that you will be placed in a ceremony only when I attend to these emails). Please take note of the following:
- Ceremony time must be booked beforehand. This will be on a first come, first served basis.
- Child can only be accompanied by parents. Siblings or other family are asked to remain at home.
- At the time of booking, you will asked how many parents will attend with the child so that we can ensure that the limit of 50 people is not exceeded.
- Please contact the parish as soon as possible if you need to change ceremony time or if the number of parents attending changes so we can make necessary adjustments.
We hope you can understand that while we would have loved for your whole family to be able to celebrate together, it is just not possible at this time when we have a number of families that we need to accommodate. Your consideration in this matter is greatly appreciated.
Your booking will serve as our registration of your attendance at the church. Spots for child and parents to sit together will be marked to ensure appropriate social distancing from other families and we ask you to please keep to these places.
This is a simple liturgy and we will guide all the children to receive the sacrament first. Once all the children have been to see the priests, parents will also be welcome to receive the sacrament of reconciliation if they wish. There will be no concluding rite with families able to leave once they have received the sacrament. We would, however, appreciate any help you can give us to clean the church prior to the next service.
We still recommend that you bring something quiet to do as there will be some waiting time involved. We also ask you to go over how the sacrament is celebrated (e.g. review Session 4/your Booklet handout) and to help your child in these next few weeks to prepare to receive the sacrament. Going over what the sacrament is all about, helping them through an examination of conscience, and talking about the gift of God’s love and forgiveness will hopefully help ease any nerves they may have, especially with the added issues the pandemic would have caused them through the preparation time.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any questions or concerns. We thank you again for your prayers and support of our parish during this time. We are very much looking forward to reconnecting with you all and seeing you at the parish, and of course, in being able to finally celebrate this sacrament with you and your child.
[sign off by Priest/Sacramental Coordinator]
The Prayer Place
The Prayer Place is an area in the home, parish setting or classroom that is set aside to be used during family prayer, sacramental preparation sessions or Special Religious Education lessons in public schools. It would usually contain all the materials and resources used in religious education. The area is re-created/re-decorated for each family prayer time, sacramental preparation session or SRE lesson, according to the theme. The children are taught to respect the Prayer Place and to care for it.
The Prayer Place may contain:
- the Bible;
- Models of objects used in the Church’s worship;
- Models of people and objects from the time of Christ;
- Booklets of parables and stories of Jesus;
- Icons, crucifix, colourful posters of Jesus’ life and stories;
- Pictures/posters relating to the theme of each lesson.
Parents have a responsibility, as do Catechists, to not only to teach children about faith, but also to provide opportunities for them to experience a living faith through participation in prayer and liturgy. Since the practice of prayer is the practice of faith, the methods by which we pray and worship will affect and reflect the depth or otherwise of our understanding of and relationship with our living, ever-present God.
- The raising of the mind and heart to God;
- Being open to a life-giving relationship with God;
- Our response to God’s invitation to this relationship of love and communion;
- Placing one’s life, as a whole person, before God, aware of one’s own needs and those of others and the world;
- Providing a diversity of experiences, which might include vocal, meditative, contemplative.
1. Gratia Series for Sacramental Preparation
upskilling parents as first educators
To help families prepare at home, PowerPoints with voice-overs are available to guide parents & children through the pages of the Children’s Activity Books, e.g.
- Designed to have a set of four preparation sessions for each sacrament within a broader time of parish-based preparation
- Sessions should see parent and child praying and learning together
- The material covered in each session may have been taught to the children in a school situation
- Importantly these sessions are designed as a second teaching where parents are also involved
Email CCD to receive access information for PowerPoints to accompany your parish’s Children’s Activity Book order: email@example.com
FIRST RECONCILIATION PREPARATION
Reconciliation is about discerning/celebrating the fact that your child is now able to recognise the need to ask for forgiveness (it is not about being able to merely recite a list of sins).
Session 1: Choices, Choices – what is sin – breaking of a relationship. Children and parents look at choices – good choices that show love and build friendship and poor choices that harm friendships.
Session 2: Friends – Jesus wants us to be his friend. You will be Jesus’ friend if you love one another.
Session 3: Forgiving and being forgiven. Steps to forgiveness: own up, be sorry, want forgiveness, try to do better. If your child can do this it is something worth celebrating.
Session 4: Preparing for the liturgy – Reconciliation – a new start, examination of conscience
FIRST EUCHARIST PREPARATION
Covers the four parts of the Mass and the four ways Jesus is present during Mass and the rituals for each part of the Mass.
Session 1: Introductory rites – Jesus is present in the people who gather to worship
Session 2: Liturgy of the Word – Jesus is present in the Scriptures proclaimed
Session 3: Liturgy of the Eucharist – Jesus in present in person of the priest leading the celebration
Session 4: Receive and sent – Jesus is present in the bread and wine when these become the Body and Blood of Christ.
Session 1: Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit
Parents and children look at baptismal promises and the Creed we proclaim each Sunday. Discuss their baptismal saint and their Confirmation saint names.
Session 2: Pentecost – What does it mean to be a witness?
Discuss their choice of Confirmation sponsor. How does their sponsor give witness to being a follower of Christ?
Session 3: Fruits and Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Parent and child look at people (their Saint and their sponsor) who show the fruits of the Spirit and discuss which Gifts of the Spirit helps them do this.
Session 4: Preparing for the Liturgy of Confirmation