Sacramental Preparation Overview
At St. Matthew the Evangelist Parish, we encourage two years of Faith Formation prior to receiving these Sacraments, in order to have a good foundation of faith. Receiving the Body of Christ for the first time is a major milestone in our Catholic faith. When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist (Communion), we are becoming one with God because it is the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and not only a symbol. To prepare ourselves to receive Eucharist, we also prepare for and receive the sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession, Penance) prior to receiving one’s first Eucharist.
COVID Pandemic Protocol:
We intend to follow all COVID / pandemic safety protocols in place set forth by the Archdiocese of Boston, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and Billerica Board of Health. We will update registered families prior to the event beginning with further specifics.
If you have any concerns, please contact Karyn Moody and speak with her.
Preparation for First Reconciliation:
Our process for preparing children for First Reconciliation consists of:
- Seekers Faith Formation – online digital platform or use paper materials
- Community Faith Formation – the Come and See Gatherings or Family Small Groups
- First Reconciliation Workshop
- Additional information on this web page
Note: in the past, we used additional materials (titled Go, Seek, Find) to prepare children for First Reconciliation and First Eucharist. Recent feedback and our own investigations have shown that these materials are redundant to the Seekers Faith Formation materials. In 2022, we are evaluating this and our entire preparation process. Your feedback is welcomed.
First Reconciliation Logistics
What do we do once we arrive at Church?
- Please come in the main doors (facing Boston Road) of St. Theresa Church, where you will be greeted by a Faith Formation Minister.
- Quietly wait in a pew inside the Church for your turn.
- The child will receive the sacrament of Reconciliation with a priest.
- The child will return to the pew to complete their penance (prayers).
- The child and everyone they came with may quietly leave the Church.
Who can attend my child’s Sacrament of First Reconciliation?
Family members are welcome to come into the Church to be with a child having their First Reconciliation, however the sacramental experience will be between the priest and child only.
Grandparents, Godparents, and other family are often a source of support and encouragement.
Younger siblings may be a distraction to parents focusing on the child receiving First Reconciliation, however, they are welcome as well.
How long do we need to stay?
After your child completes his or her First Reconciliation with the priest, they will return to the pew to complete their prayers for penance. Once your child has completed their penance, you and your family are free to leave.
We ask that you please leave quietly as other children will still be waiting their turn and we want to be respectful of all children.
Sometimes there is a gathering prayer at the beginning or end, however we will not be offering those at this time.
We offer these resources that may be helpful in preparing your child for his/her upcoming Sacrament of Reconciliation.
- My First Confession Printable
- Please be sure to bring this printable with you to your child’s Sacrament of First Reconciliation.
- This is the script children will read from during their Reconciliation.
- Your child does not need to have this script nor the Act of Contrition memorized.
- Use this printable to practice at home by having a grownup pretend to be the priest as your child reads the script. Your child may omit telling the grownup his/her sins and instead reflect upon them in their mind, and save that part for the actual Sacrament of First Reconciliation.
- Examination of Conscience for Kids Printable
- This will help your child think of his/her sins to share with the priest.
- Your child may bring this printable to his/her scheduled Sacrament of First Reconciliation to recall his/her sins. (And/or your child may write on the back of their “My First Confession Printable” his/her sins to be forgiven.)
- Catholic Prayer Booklet
- Please have your child review these four prayers (Our Father, Hail May, Glory Be, and Guardian Angel Prayer) in preparation for a penance following receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
- Your child does not need to have these prayers memorized.
- Your child may bring this booklet or a prayer book to his/her scheduled Sacrament of First Reconciliation and read the prayers that the priest assigns your child as penance.
Below are some short video clips from Brother Francis related to the Sacrament of First Reconciliation:
- The Sacrament of Confession
- God’s Guidelines
- I’m Loved by a Loving Father
- Doctor Visit Object Lesson
Frequently Asked Questions about (First) Reconciliation
Questions about First Reconciliation and Reconciliation in general.
For some Christians, it is not that we “have to”, but we “get to” – in fact, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the ability of the Church to forgive sins has brought many Christians into full communion with the Catholic Church!
Every time we sin, we hurt ourselves, other people and God. The Sacrament of Reconciliation was given to us by Christ to help us reconcile with Christ and His Church. Through the Sacrament, we acknowledge our sins, express our sorrow in a meaningful way, receive the forgiveness of Christ and his Church, make reparation for what we have done and resolve to do better in the future.
The rite for the Sacrament of Reconciliation involves four parts: contrition, confession, penance and absolution.
- Contrition: a sincere sorrow for having offended God and the most important act of the penitent. There can be no forgiveness of sin if we do not have sorrow and a firm resolve not to repeat our sin.
- Confession: confronting our sins in a profound way to God by speaking about them —aloud— to the priest.
- Penance: an important part of our healing is the “penance” the priest imposes in reparation for our sins.
- Absolution: the priest speaks the words by which “God, the Father of Mercies” reconciles a sinner to Himself through the merits of the Cross.
Remember, first, that in the sacrament you are fundamentally talking to God through the priest. God loves you, wishes to forgive you, and desires to embrace you with the joy with which the prodigal son was embraced in Jesus’ parable (Luke 15:11-32).
Moreover, know that you will not say anything that the priest has not heard before. Do not be afraid.
If you are nervous, please just tell the priest that you are nervous and he will help you. The priest has done this before!
Click here to watch a Youtube on the Prodigal Son (for kids).
No. A priest can never reveal the sins a person has confessed. This is known as the “Seal of confession,” which admits of no exceptions (CCC 1467). If a priest were to violate the seal of confession he would be automatically excommunicated (CIC 1388). Over the centuries several priests have died and many have been imprisoned because they refused, even under threat of torture and execution, to break the inviolable seal of confession. This is one of the most beautiful aspects of the sacrament and of the priesthood: the priest who hears our confession, in order to protect the secrets we have whispered to God through him, will allow himself to be imprisoned, tortured or even killed. That’s how seriously he and the Church take the seal and the sacrament.
The priest’s purpose is not to keep a check-list on people, but to be an instrument of Christ in receiving someone’s sorrow, bringing forgiveness and helping the people move forward. A priest hears a large number of confessions. He is not there to judge the person, but rather to listen, and to offer counsel and encouragement to overcome the sin and to grow spiritually. He too goes to confession, so he knows how it feels to confront one’s own sins and ask for forgiveness.
If you have sincerely confessed your sins and the priest speaks the words of absolution, you have been forgiven! You hear the words of absolution and know/see the priest extend his hand to pray over you. You are free to start fresh!
After we complete the conversation with the priest we go and complete our penance, to help in saying sorry to God and others and to make room in our heart for God’s grace to work in our lives.
- Plan a family party or special dinner to celebrate your child’s first reconciliation. By acknowledging the importance of this event, you convey its value into the future.
- During this time of preparation, you are talking with your child about what constitutes a sin. Continue these conversations as your child grows older.
- As a family, plan to participate in parish celebrations of reconciliation during Lent and Advent each year.
- What is your attitude toward this sacrament? As a parent, if you participate in the sacrament of reconciliation, your child will most likely want to do so as well.
Typically, everyone will be able to choose how they receive the sacrament of Reconciliation, as well as the priest to whom they go. They can receive face-to-face or they can go to confession anonymously, which means that the person behind an opaque screen (the person is heard but not seen).
It is often recommended that someone who is experiencing the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time should go face-to-face, so the priest may best assist the child/person in experiencing the sacrament – this enables the priest to read facial expressions, body language, etc.
It is quite natural to be excited as well as nervous to experience this next step in their journey of faith. Some children become more nervous than others. If you feel your child is a bit more anxious, consider having your child write on the back of their “My First Confessions Printable” (or any paper) what they plan to say to the priest. They can take this paper with them when they receive their sacrament to help them feel more confident.
As a reminder, adults are welcome to wait with them in the pew and to help calm their nerves as you feel they need that extra support until it is actually their turn, however, they will then need to complete the sacrament on their own.
When the sacrament of Reconciliation is offered to minors, parents and other adults should be able to see their child (through glass or distance) without overhearing the conversation. This follows basic safe environment protocol.
Yes. Children receiving Reconciliation for the first time are encouraged to bring in papers with prayers and other materials that we recommend at: https://billericacatholic.org/firstreconciliation#resources
Several Catholic apps offer examination of consciences, prayer aids, and other resources for adults and teens, which you are welcome to use.
Typically, clothing worn for Reconciliation is either what you might wear for Church, or may be anything respectable.
When a child receives the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time, having the child dress up in “Sunday best” helps punctuate the importance of receiving the sacrament. This is a special event in the faith journey of your child, so children should dress up for this special moment. We wish to put our best foot forward for Jesus!
A child must be baptized, has reached the age of reason (normally considered to be seven years of age), and has been properly formed in faith (participating in faith formation and preparation for this sacrament).
A child needs to know and understand:
- The difference between right and wrong.
- That accidents or mistakes are not sins.
- When we deliberately choose to do what is wrong and turn away from God, we sin.
- God is loving and merciful. God will always forgive us if we ask.
- Jesus has given us the sacrament of Reconciliation through which our sins are forgiven and we receive the grace to live as God’s children.
- We must be willing to forgive others, just as God forgives us.