Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation
The three sacraments are the foundation of every Christian life. This page examines each in turn.
Baptism Preparation Course.
We ask all parents who are requesting Baptism for their child at Sacred Heart or St Charles parishes to attend this course before booking the Baptism date. It is an opportunity for parents to learn more about the Sacrament and Rite of Baptism. The course is delivered as a single session in a group setting, on the second Tuesday of alternate months at 7.00pm, in one of our Parish Halls (Sacred Heart or St Charles). The venue and dates are regularly updated in the weekly Newsletter.
During the session the parents will be given information about booking the baptism date.
For more information: Contact Fr Michael Weymes or Deacon John Hawthorne, or email the Parish Office at St Charles, (contact information is in the Bulletin and on the home page). Booking forms can also be collected from Fr Michael or Deacon John after Sunday Mass following attendance on the course.
Baptism Preparation – Frequently asked questions:
Is my child eligible to be baptised at this Church?
Anyone can request that their child be baptised in our Church. If you are a member of the congregation and attend Sunday Mass you must attend a Baptism Preparation course, fill out an application form and agree a date with the Parish Priest or Deacon. If you live outside of the Parish, you will also need the permission of the Parish Priest in your Parish of residence. There is a section in the Baptism application form for this, if required.
How do I book the date?
Once you have attended a Baptism Preparation course run by the parish you may make an application for Baptism. There is a form to be completed and you can request a date by contacting the clergy or the Parish Secretary (all contact details are on the website or on the weekly Parish bulletin).
What time is the baptism?
Baptisms are usually celebrated on a Sunday, either during Mass or in a separate ceremony at 12 noon. Occasionally you will find there is a child from another family being baptised at the same ceremony.
Who can be a Godparent?
A Godparent should be at least 16 years old and be a practising Catholic who has made their First Holy Communion and been Confirmed.
How many godparents can we have?
Usually you would have two Godparents, but you can have just one, or up to four if you wish.
Do all godparents need to be Catholic?
All Godparents must be baptised Christians, and at least one must be a practising and confirmed Catholic.
Do I need to give my child a Saint’s name?
Traditionally children would be given at least one name that reflected the Christian faith (i.e. a Saint’s name or an appropriate biblical character) but there is no obligation to do so.
How much does it cost to have my child baptised?
There is no set fee for a baptism for parents who are members of the congregation and attend Sunday Mass regularly. However, it is customary to make a donation to the Church, according to your means, at the celebration of a Baptism.
You may bring a cash donation which you can hand to the priest or deacon on the day in an envelope, or you may do a bank transfer to 40-34-18 acc. 91164147 please add ‘Baptism’ in the reference.
First Holy Communion
First Holy Communions and First Sacrament of Penance at Sacred Heart Church
The Sacramental Preparation is for children from Year 4 upwards from the parish. It is led by the Parish Priest, Deacon and parish catechists. St Oswald’s School also encourages the children to be involved if they are pupils in the school.
The programme starts in September each year and the First Holy Communion Mass is usually in June.
Over this preparation period the children meet on seven Saturday morning sessions in the Parish Hall, with a specially themed Mass on the following Sunday specifically for the First Communion children. The children and parents are asked to attend their usual Sunday Mass on other Sundays, but to attend these special Masses at the Sacred Heart after the Saturday sessions, when the children are given opportunities to read and participate in other ways in the Mass.
Parents are invited to three evening meetings during the programme: one before the programme starts, one before the First Penance/Confession Service in February, and one before the First Holy Communion Mass in June.
The sessions are adapted from the ‘I Belong’ book and the Diocesan Sacramental Programme. The book is provided at the start of the programme and parents are asked to pay for it. The book is filled in during the sessions and as part of the ‘homework’ which is given after each session. Parents can help the children with this to reinforce the work done with the catechists. As well as working through the book, the children watch videos, join in discussions, act out stories from the Bible, have tastes of different types of bread and juice and write and share group prayers. We aim to make the sessions fun times for everyone.
At the beginning of the programme we ask parents for information about any special needs they wish to share about their children, including any food allergies. We try hard to meet the needs of, and to include children with learning difficulties.
We recognise that some of the children have sports and other clubs on Saturday mornings, but hope that the First Communion programme will be given priority.
All of the catechists are DBS checked and follow diocesan safeguarding guidelines. This includes all children being registered each week and only collected by a parent or adult nominated by the parents.
Application forms for First Holy Communions are distributed at the first parents’ meeting, or available from Deacon John Hawthorne email@example.com or by contacting the parish office firstname.lastname@example.org
Confirmation is normally celebrated as the third sacrament of initiation. Originally it was the second. Candidates were baptised and then confirmed. Indeed, baptism and confirmation were often celebrated at the same service. A priest anointed the candidate in baptism and then the bishop anointed the newly baptised with the oil of confirmation. Only when you had been confirmed could you make you First Holy Communion.
As infant baptism became more common and the availability of bishops more difficult, the two sacraments were separated. When Pius X moved First Communion to the age of seven, Confirmation began to be celebrated regularly after First Communion. Thus it has become a sacrament for adolescents or adults. It is seen as an opportunity for a person to confirm the choice made on their behalf at baptism. While there is much to be said for this, in reality it is a sacrament that confirms the choice God made at baptism. In the sacrament of Confirmation God bestows his Spirit on the baptised Christian. They are given the gift of the Holy Spirit to strengthen them for their role as a mature member of the Christian Church. This gift is bestowed via the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit – wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. These ancient gifts are mentioned as early as in Isaiah, “A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots: on him the spirit of the Lord rests, a spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of counsel and power, a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Lord.” (Isaiah 11:1-2)
The importance of Confirmation was summed up by Monsignor Lawrence McReavy in a talk on the lay priesthood, given in Wallsend in April 1939. His words still seem apt today:
“Confirmation is so much in need of emphasis today. It is, as it were, the layman’s ordination. In Confirmation, as in Holy Orders, there is a laying on of hands, there is an infusion of the Holy Spirit, there is an anointing with chrism, and there is the conferment of a special character. Don’t mistake me. Confirmation is not a lesser form of Holy Orders: it does not make sacrificing priests in the unique Christian sense of that word. But, by completing the work of baptism, it consecrates you as Saint Peter says, “to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)
You are not anointed as disciples, but as apostle, and it is your mission to preach your faith, to bear witness to it, to “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 5:16) Listen to the words of the heroic Cardinal champion* of the persecuted Church in Germany, “through baptism we become Children of God, through Confirmation we become apostles of Christ, through Baptism we become stones in the city of God, through Confirmation we receive the summons to be workers and builders of that city. It is not enough for us to be fishes in the net of the apostles, we must be fishers and apostles ourselves. You have had your Pentecost. You have been strengthened from on high by the gift of the Holy Ghost in Confirmation and equipped with the graces and gifts needed for your work. You are ready to start.”
* Mgr McReavy does not name this Cardinal
Taken from “Vatican II As I Saw It”, Cuthbert Peter Johnson OSB, p 26-27
- Candidates must be baptised.
- In the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle you must be in Year 9 or above to be confirmed.
- While candidates are normally confirmed by their bishop, the bishop can give power to priests to confirm.
- All candidates are expected to attend a number of preparation sessions.
- Candidates are encouraged be confirmed using their baptismal name but may choose a new name. It should be the name of a saint.
- Each candidate needs at least one sponsor to support them. They are encouraged to choose their baptismal godparents. However, most candidates like to choose one person who means a great deal to them. The sponsor should be a baptised Catholic.
- There is no dress code for Confirmation.
- There is no fee for Confirmation.