"It is important that children be prepared well for their First Communion and that every child receive it, because it is the first step of this intense belonging to Jesus Christ, after Baptism and Confirmation." — Pope Francis
Although our society is no longer as religious as it once was, it is still important to many parents that their children make their First Communion (or Eucharist: “thanksgiving” in Greek), even if they might be unfamiliar with the deeper meaning of the sacrament. At times, it is the child who will make the request to receive this special sacrament.
The Eucharist is the remembrance (made real) of the Last Supper of Jesus with his Apostles, which took place on the Thursday evening prior to his arrest and death on the cross on Good Friday. It was at this last supper that Jesus revealed in a most extraordinary way, how his presence and the gift of his life, would remain eternally with his followers: through the breaking of the bread (the sharing of His body) and the sharing of the cup of wine (the sharing of his blood). As He did this, Jesus addressed his friends, inviting them to "Do this in memory of me." Since then, the breaking of bread and the blessing of wine have been enacted by the Apostles and the Catholic Church every single day. During Mass, it is through the words spoken by the priest that Jesus and his divinity become present in the bread and the wine. The Eucharist, therefore, is a meal of mysterious love between Jesus, who is God, and his disciples. It is an incredible miracle that He alone could perform, a miracle of love to which we are drawn in faith and adoration.
Ever since this first meal, the Eucharist has literally brought life to the Church and to the baptized. It is the Eucharist that enables them to love as Jesus loved and to bring about God’s Kingdom here on earth, through his light, his peace and his joy. The Eucharist is the God of Love who gives of Himself so that the world may have abundant life – abundant because it is rooted in the very life of God.
If your child were to make his/her First Communion, this sacrament of the Catholic Church would enable him/her to experience a most profound relationship with Jesus.
If you, as a parent, would like your child to experience this incredible spiritual relationship which will change his/her life forever (with his/her active participation), then this section is for you.
Each year in the Diocese of Montreal, more than 12,000 children register for catechetical programs to prepare for First Communion. If your heart feels called to offer this great gift to your child, the first step would be to get in touch with your parish, where a pastoral team is available to guide and support your child and your family on this new journey.
Once you have begun the process, the parish pastoral team will answer your questions and introduce a program designed to help prepare your child for First Communion. The program involves regular/weekly catechism classes for your child, conducted with other children of the same age. These are usually held on the church premises.
As a primary teacher of your child's faith, you will be invited to participate, in whatever way you are able and wish to do so, with the parish staff responsible for the catechetical preparation of your child. The process will also help prepare your child to receive two other very important sacraments for Christian life: the Sacrament of Reconciliation (or Confession), held before your child’s First Communion, followed by the sacrament of Confirmation, soon after. Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation are known in the Catholic Church as the Sacraments of Christian Initiation.
Some parents are surprised to learn that the catechetical journey usually extends over several years. Experience shows that a faith journey, by its very nature, is one that requires time to yield good fruit. All that is beautiful and significant takes time to create! Indeed, the aim is not to teach your child one or several physical or technical skills like tying a knot, diving or learning how to swim, etc. It is more to teach your child about a way to look at life, prayer, values – in other words, to impart to him/her a way of living. More precisely, this course will be an opportunity for your child to make new friends, to become familiar with biblical stories, to deepen his/her relationship with Jesus through prayer, and lastly, to get involved in community service.
This formation is so rich and beneficial in so many aspects (personal and spiritual development) that it is not uncommon for children to want to continue their involvement in Church activities out of sheer enjoyment after completing the program. As for parents, the majority of those who become involved in the catechetical process for their children take advantage of the opportunity to rediscover the deep sources of their faith and can come away from it feeling more enriched and transformed ... for their greater happiness. It is a winning proposition for all, children and adults alike.
Dear parent, choosing to accompany your child in a faith journey leading to First Communion, is for him/her, as well as for you, a path leading to fulfillment and happiness that you will not want to leave: this path leads all the way to heaven!
Are you ready to embark on this adventure? We are waiting for you with an open heart and open arms!
“Through the Eucharist, Christ wants to enter into our existence and permeate it with his grace…” (Pope Francis)
The Catholic Church makes every effort to ensure that formation in the Christian faith is available to anyone, at any age and at any stage of life. While many parents introduce their children to a faith formation program at an early age, it is not exclusively offered to children. Adolescents are also welcome to prepare for the sacraments, like First Communion (or Eucharist), even if they had not been enrolled previously in a catechetical program.
If you would like your teenager to consider First Communion, your first step would be to speak to him or her about it. Your teenager, at this stage in his or her life, is learning to think more independently and is making more personal decisions. If your teenager is interested in joining a catechetical program, then the journey begins. If, on the other hand, he or she wants “nothing to do with it”, it would be wiser to respect their freedom, just as God does with each one of us.
God is patient, He waits for us, ready to welcome us at any time. Your teenager may one day, perhaps as an adult, feel the need to pursue his or her own faith journey. The Church will welcome them and accompany them in encountering God through the sacraments.
If, however, your teenager wants to receive First Communion or shows an interest in this sacrament, or if you yourself are a teenager and are interested, please contact your parish (Find your parish here), where a pastoral team is ready to guide and support you and your family on this new journey.
Preparing for an event as important as First Communion requires sufficient time to prepare oneself emotionally and spiritually. This formation will include receiving two other sacraments: Reconciliation (Confession) and Confirmation. As such, this preparation is usually spread over several years. This journey is designed to be life-giving; it’s a time to come to know yourself, others and God! These years can help transform you into a new person, happier and more mindful of God’s love for you.
Why is that? Because the Catholic sacraments are an extraordinarily powerful means by which we grow closer to God and receive his help. These sacraments help you to be more joyful, happy, loving, and stronger when facing life’s difficulties, whether you are young or old. That is God’s promise!
This learning experience can be so engaging that many teens, once they’ve reached this part of their journey, want to become more involved in Church activities, such as joining youth groups and participating in various social, recreational and spiritual activities.
Committing to journeying toward First Communion allows a young person to live all of this, and more!
Are you ready to dive in and join this terrific adventure?
"We will never thank the Lord enough for the gift He has given us in the Eucharist! It is such a great gift, and it is for this reason that it is so important to go to Mass on Sunday. Go to Mass, not only to pray, but to receive Communion, this bread that is the Body of Jesus Christ who saves, forgives, and unites us to the Father. It is a beautiful thing to experience!" (Pope Francis)
Are you an adult who has been baptized but has not yet received catechetical instruction in preparation for First Communion? You are not alone in this situation, and it is never too late to begin the process!
If you wish to make your First Communion (also called the Eucharist), you must first contact your parish church, the one closest to your home (Find a parish). The parish pastoral team will welcome your request, answer your questions and suggest a process adapted to your needs.
First Communion preparation may also include preparation for first Reconciliation and for Confirmation. The parish team will probably recommend that you receive these three sacraments in close succession.
The catechetical preparation that you are considering usually requires attendance at meetings facilitated by one or more catechists. Together, you will reflect upon the key elements of Christian doctrine, moral values, life in the Church, personal and communal prayer, and the lives of significant figures in Church history, etc. These meetings may be spread over a one-year period, sometimes a little longer.
Do you think this is so too long?
This time of preparation is truly needed. In fact, the aim is not only to prepare you to receive one of the Sacraments of Christian Initiation but rather to prepare you to live the Christian life in its totality. The preparation will, therefore, speak to your mind, your heart, your soul, your will, your values. Your whole being will be transformed through this journey. It will also give you valuable tools to deepen your faith for the rest of your life!
The catechesis you will receive in your preparation for First Communion (and other sacraments) will give you a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon the larger existential questions that all human beings ask themselves at one time or another. The questions and ensuing reflection will help to enlighten and strengthen your faith in Jesus, who is the answer to all these questions.
To take steps toward First Communion is to receive so much more than basic training in doctrine: it will help you to discover, or discover anew, the ultimate meaning of life. This meaning has a name: Jesus, a friend who will never leave you, and who desires to be with you in an intimate way through the Eucharist – the greatest of all the sacraments because it allows Christians to be nourished by God’s very own life.
To receive God’s very own life… it sounds almost too good to be true, to be real. Yet, it is real. Indeed, it is so real that we will never cease to uncover the beauty that is the infinite love of God for each one of us… yes, God truly loves you! Open your heart to Him by receiving Him in the Eucharist!