First Holy Communion & Reconciliation
"This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me."
The Sacrament of Holy Communion, also known as Eucharist, is a sacred occasion for all Catholics. During the Sacrament of Holy Communion, Christians receive and eat the body and blood of Christ Jesus, and they enter into unity with Christ and the Church. The Church encourages all its members, in a state of grace, to partake of Holy Communion weekly at the Sunday Mass.
For children, their First Holy Communion is celebrated annually in late spring. In order to participate in the celebration of First Holy Communion, children attend weekly Parish Religious Education (PRE) classes from September through May. PRE helps children attain the Church requirement of “sufficient knowledge and careful preparation so as to understand the mystery of Christ according to their capacity, and receive the Body of the Lord with faith and devotion.”
For adults, who are becoming Catholic, their First Communion is normally celebrated at the Easter Vigil Mass, after a process of prayerful discernment and catechesis, known as the Rite of Christian Initiation. See Becoming Catholic (RCIA).
Are PRE classes required for my child to receive First Holy Communion?
Yes. If you want your child to receive First Holy Communion they must enroll and regularly attend Parish Religious Education classes. These classes are needed in order to adequately prepare for the Sacrament.
My child is in kindergarten or first-grade.
Your child needs to wait until second-grade to make First Holy Communion. In the Diocese of Grand Rapids, school age children (who have been baptized as infants) normally prepare to receive the sacraments of First Penance and First Holy Communion during the second grade. Enrolling your child in kindergarten and first-grade religious education classes will help prepare him or her for making First Holy Communion in second-grade.
My child is in second-grade.
In the Diocese of Grand Rapids, school age children (who have been baptized as infants) normally prepare to receive the sacraments of First Penance and First Holy Communion during the second grade. Their regular Sunday morning PRE class prepares them to receive these sacraments during late spring.
My child is in third, fourth, fifth or sixth-grade.
School age children who are baptized and currently enrolled in third through sixth-grade (and who have not yet made their First Penance and First Holy Communion) fall into a special category. They register and attend their regular grade level Sunday morning PRE classes. However, they also must attend special First Penance and First Holy Communion preparation classes, held at a separate and additional time to the regular PRE class time. Parents must sign up for special sacrament preparation classes when they fill out their child’s registration form for parish religious education.
My child is in seventh-grade or above.
School age children who are baptized, who have not received First Holy Communion, and who are currently enrolled in seventh through ninth grade will attend Thursday evening Youth Group for their PRE classes. During the course of the year, they will receive special First Penance and First Holy Communion preparation instruction, held during their normal youth group instructional periods. Parents must sign up for special sacrament preparation classes when they fill out their child’s registration form for parish religious education.
School age children who are baptized, who have not received First Holy Communion, and who are currently enrolled in tenth through twelfth grade are highly encouraged to attend adult RCIA classes. However, a religious education needs assessment is conducted on a case by case basis.
My school-age child has not been baptized. Can they make First Communion?
A religious education “needs assessment” for non-baptized school age children is made in consultation with the pastor on case by case basis. Contact the Director of Religious Education to discuss your situation.