Share the Good News: National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland, outlines how, in preparing children baptised as infants for their first celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and their first participation in Holy Communion, there are three partners: the home, the parish and the school.
This document is primarily a resource for parishes. It is hoped that it will assist parishes to engage further with parents/guardians and schools. This material can be adapted by dioceses and parishes seeking to develop their own guidelines and resources in this area.
Schools may also find these guidelines helpful in understanding their role in assisting parents/guardians and working with parishes in the sacramental preparation of children for their first celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and their first participation in Holy Communion. The Catholic school contributes an indispensable amount of expertise and resources to sacramental preparation and celebration. It has been, and will remain, a vital partner in this area, as well as in the religious education of children more generally. The work done by parishes with Catholic children in other schools and with the parents/guardians of these children also needs to be acknowledged and supported.
The role of the Catholic school and its teachers is to support families and their parishes in the Christian initiation of children, not the other way around. There is broad agreement that greater balance is needed, one that encourages and empowers home and parish communities to take on a greater degree of responsibility. For many years, parishes across the country have made great efforts, through programmes like Do This in Memory, to ensure this greater balance is achieved. These guidelines are an attempt to encourage further collaboration between school, parish and parents/guardians and families in the area of sacramental preparation and celebration.
Finally, permeating these guidelines and discussion points is the hope that future generations will share the joy of knowing Jesus, and the joy of belonging to Christ and his Church. These guidelines reflect the vision of Share the Good News: National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland, which reminds us that the sacraments ‘are the gifts of Christ to regenerate the whole of life. Each sacrament has its own particular place, but the Eucharist is the high point of communion with God in Jesus Christ, and with one another in the Church.’ It is hoped that the need the person living in contemporary society has for connection with others and with the world, the desire we share to be lifted up by beauty and grace, and the hope we have for meaning beyond the humdrum activity of daily life, can and should find rich expression in faith in our homes and in our parish communities, especially in our celebration of the Eucharist.
Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference