Preparation for the Holy Eucharist
It is most often celebrated by children around the age of seven or eight, when they have reached the age of reason and are capable of participating in the sacramental life of the Catholic Church. First Holy Communion is to be preceded by the sacraments of Baptism and Confession. The preparation of children for these sacraments is a collaborative effort of home, school and parish. In the autumn of each year an invitation will be made to parents to apply for a place for their child on the forthcoming programme. Detailed arrangements are made within each of the three churches of the St Mary's Parish and will be provided to families who request such. At school the candidates will receive a general religious education that includes information about the sacraments in the life of the Church. School staff also participate in some aspects of the Preparation Programme and in the actual celebration of the sacraments.
For those not in Catholic schools the Preparation Course takes place in the Parish and runs over several months. Meetings are held during term time, out of school hours, and are led by parish catechists with appropriate parental involvement. There are also activities to be undertaken at home by each family. Regular participation at Sunday Mass is expected of all candidates with the active support of their parents. Preparation for the sacrament of Confession is included in the course and this sacrament is usually celebrated during the season of Lent. First Communion usually takes place in the period after Easter.