Reconciliation and the Eucharist
Preparing the Year 3 children to receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion is the joint responsibility of all members of staff, Fr. Alessandro Locatelli (our parish priest), Br. Andrew, the Year 3 teaching team and the RE leader.
We have very strong links with our parish community and this is vital to the successful running of the First Holy Communion programme. Photographs of the children are displayed in church so that members of the parish know who they are praying for.
Although the children are prepared in Year 3, we build on the knowledge and understanding gained in the earlier years as well as the child’s faith from home.
The programme begins in Spring 1 when the children participate in an Enrolment Mass at Holy Name Church, Great Barr. This enables the children and their families to make a clear symbol of commitment and dedication to the programme.
The children take part in RE lessons focusing on both sacraments and also preparation Masses leading up to receiving the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. As well as RE lessons and preparation Masses, the children (along with a family member) attend a whole day Spiritual Retreat day at Alton Castle. This retreat day forms part of St. Mark’s ‘Journey of Faith’ Programme which prepares the children and their family in receiving the Sacraments. The ‘Journey of Faith’ Programme is run on a number of evenings after school and it is always followed by a fish and chip supper which is enjoyed by all.
The children also take part in many Sunday Celebration Masses leading up to the Sacrament of the Eucharist at Holy Name RC Church, Great Barr. The children receive the sacrament of Reconciliation in May and the sacrament of the Eucharist in June.
Reconciliation is a special occasion whereby children are supported by both staff and parents. Those accompanying the children at this Sacrament also take part in the celebration and are given the opportunity to receive reconciliation themselves.
On the day of Holy Communion, a great emphasis is placed on the child and their family receiving the sacrament together. The rest of the school and parish community support them by preparing and taking part in the special mass.
Following the receiving of the Eucharist, the children are ready to present themselves to the parish and prepare and lead the Going Forth Mass. They partake in all parts of the liturgy. Afterwards they are given the opportunity to celebrate with their families and friends with a party and photographs.
During their final years at St. Mark’s, the children are prepared for and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Year 6 children and Year 5 children join together to prepare for and receive this special sacrament.
This begins with a meeting for parents with the head teacher, Year 6 teacher, Year 5 teacher and the RE leader from school where they are given the opportunity to find out more about the sacrament itself and then to discuss the programme which their children will follow.
This is followed by a mass of light which is prepared and led by the children along with the parish community. This shows that both parents and confirmandi are committed to take on the responsibilities placed before them. Photographs of the children are displayed in church so that members of the parish know who they are praying for.
The children are prepared following a school based programme and have a weekly lesson with work to continue at home. The programme is based on the Curriculum Strategy used in the Archdiocese of Birmingham. As part of their work, children prepare a project on the saint of their choice. They are encouraged to select the name of a saint who has inspired them in some way. A sponsor is also chosen and has the role of supporting the child in their spiritual life.
During this time the children have the opportunity of a spiritual retreat which enriches and deepens the understanding of their faith.
At the end of January, the children spend time with Fr. Alessandro Locatelli and the Bishop ensuring that they are fully prepared and ready to receive the sacrament. The evening itself is a great celebration with children, parents, clergy, staff and members of the parish.