Sacramental Preparation Programme for
First Holy Communion and Reconciliation
Jesus spoke to them... 'and know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.' (Matthew 28:20)
Family Catechesis is a method of catechesis that supports the 'domestic church' by assisting parents in leading their own children in the lifelong call to holiness within the community of the church.
The With You Always resource is for parents and their children in school year 4, aged 8–9 who are preparing for Reconciliation and First Communion. The resource encourages parents/carers and children to meet together with parish catechists, supported by the school, to learn about the Sacraments using the Family Catechesis method.
In the Archdiocese of Liverpool, Family Catechesis has brought enormous blessings to families, catechists, clergy, parishes and schools. Family Catechesis is simply parents talking to their children about the Faith, in the context of the welcoming and supportive parish. One way to envision Family Catechesis is to picture a father, or mother, or grandparent sitting next to a child in a parish or school hall, chatting together and working through colourful booklets designed to deepen their understanding of Christ and the Church’s Sacramental life. The outcome of Family Catechesis is the domestic church passing on the faith – parents passing on the faith to their children.
For many parents Family Catechesis is a handy reminder of what they themselves learned about the Sacraments in their own youth. For others, it is a gentle introduction to key information about how Baptism leads us to Eucharist, and about the grace given in Reconciliation for our Christian journey through life. Most importantly Family Catechesis puts parents in their rightful role and their child’s ‘first and best teachers’.
Overview of the resource
The With You Always resource aims to:
engage parents and children in sessions that are welcoming and active
offer time for parents and children to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ within the parish community
help parents and children learn about the Faith and respond to God’s Word in their daily lives
prepare parents and children for the reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist in the primary school years.
The With You Always resource:
is faithful to the liturgical year
provides seven sessions once a month from September to May
includes two additional celebrations in Advent and Lent
at every session families are always together
includes separate parent, child and catechist pages
is enriched by, but is not dependant on, the school RE curriculum
offers special challenges for large groups
provides a range of suggestions to engage children, recognising the variety of learning styles
provides integrated sessions of preparation for Communion and Reconciliation
has an emphasis on activity, song, and continuing the learning at home
offers a celebration of Family Reconciliation in Advent
includes a rehearsal for the Communion Mass
leads to the Communion Mass.
Each Session has the same structure:
Introduction: catechists deliver a brief welcome to the session and its themes.
Gathering: parent/carer and child link the session theme with life experience.
Sharing Scripture and Tradition: parent/carer and child read about Scripture (Old and New Testaments) and Catholic Tradition.
Responding: parent/carer and child share an activity.
Celebrating: the Catechist leads prayer in the large group.
Taking out: sessions end with a task to complete at home during the month.
September: Come to the water (Sign of the Cross & Family/Baptism).
October: Called by name (Names/Saints).
November: Come back to me (Sign of Peace & Choices/Reconciliation).
Advent: Family Reconciliation (First Reconciliation).
December: Advent/Christmas (celebration to be decided by the parish or Pastoral Area).
January: A new way of living (Following Jesus & The Beatitudes).
February: Teach us to pray (Prayer & Growth/Lord’s Prayer).
March: Jesus brings us together (Jesus Feeds Us & The Triduum & Community/Eucharist).
Lent/Holy Week/Easter: (celebration to be decided by the parish or Pastoral Area).
April/May: Jesus calls us to follow Him (Receiving Holy Communion & Jesus/Eucharist).
May/June: Rehearsal for the First Communion Mass for parents and children & Communion Mass with families).
The Christmas and Easter sessions (December and April) are an opportunity to bring families together with the parish community outside the Mass and Family Catechesis sessions. In Advent there may be a nativity or party, for example. During Lent parishes might choose to make an Easter garden or pray the Stations of the Cross together.
The With You Always resource has 7 sessions, parent and child booklets; folders and catechist books can be ordered as required.
Preparing for First Confession and Holy Communion
In the summer over 50 catechists came together to consider the impact of the pandemic on our sacramental preparation programmes. It was a great opportunity to share questions, worries, frustrations and ideas. You can see a summary of the many issues that were raised.
In coming out of lockdown and looking to the New Year we are still going to be working within the limits of what a safe response to the pandemic will allow. So what can we do? Many have raised the question of how to go about doing something online. If you are thinking that you might like to try this route, have a look at this guide that may help.
Others have raised questions about resources. The With You Always printed resource is available to order as previous years.
We now also have the With You Always Sessions available digitally.
You may also like to consider some of the video resources that the Diocese of Salford have produced and made freely available.