Pope John Paul II was once asked what he regarded as the most important day of his life: The day of his ordination as a priest? The day he became Pope? No. He always said that the most important day of his life was the day of his baptism because without that moment nothing else could have fallen into place.
Baptism is the point of entry into eternal life. We often think of that as the moment of death and eternal life as something that happens after death. The Eternal Life that Jesus speaks of begins in this world and finds fulfilment at the end of our journey through this world. For us, Catholic Christians, the moment that marks the beginning of our spiritual journey to God is the moment of our baptism. Ideally, that would be as adults but in reality, the majority of people begin that journey as infants.
And this is why, in Holy Redeemer parish, we place great emphasis on ensuring that parents who make this life decision for their children are well prepared and aware of all the facts, rights, duties and responsibilities that will befall their children. Until such time as they are able to accept those rights and responsibilities for themselves, the parents accept the necessary conditions for them in the same way as they do when it comes to crossing the road, making decisions about diet or educational opportunities etc. In truth, the moment of a child’s baptism can also be a moment of renewal for parents too.
Parents, at least one of whom must be a Catholic, are warmly invited to petition the parish priest for baptism for their child. They will be asked to undertake a period of preparation to help them make a final decision as to whether this is the right time, or indeed if this is what they want for their child. The final decision to baptise remains with the Parish Priest as Custodian of the Sacraments in this area. No child is ever refused baptism but the Parish Priest reserves the right to defer until a suitable time. In the first instance, please contact one of the priests or the parish office to arrange an initial meeting.
For adults seeking Baptism, please see below.
First Confession and First Holy Communion
Each year in both school and parish we prepare our younger parishioner for reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion. As the parish and the Sunday Eucharist is at the heart of our life as Catholics, it is appropriate that the parish takes some responsibility for the ongoing formation of our young people. The responsibility supports the fundamental responsibility taken on by the parents of the children during the Sacrament of Baptism when they promise to bring the children up in the practice of the Faith. This means attendance at Sunday Mass and participation in the life of Faith.
As with Baptism, this is a moment of God-given grace for both child and parent which is why, if a period of lapsation has occurred, parents are reminded of their responsibility to bring their children to Mass every week. Every effort is made to help parents fulfil this promise and responsibility both by priests, teachers and catechists (those who teach the course to the children on behalf of the parish) and parents are encouraged to speak with the Parish Priest if they need help. Once again, the Parish Priest reserves the right, as Custodian of the Sacraments, to defer (not deny) reception of the Sacraments if he feels, after consultation with the Catechists, that a child is insufficiently prepared or supported. Reception of a Sacrament is a moment in the long view of history; no person receives a Sacrament in their own right, in their own moment. We are the Body of Christ and that Body has found expression across time; members of the Body have died for the sake of their devotion to this great mystery of Christ’s Presence. With this in mind, it would be disrespectful to their ultimate witness to allow this Sacrament to be reduced to a ‘nice day out’ for people who have no intention of learning to respect the integrity of this gift from God. Likewise, it would be a dereliction of duty on the part of parents and catechists to allow children to think that this day was simply about ‘them’. We rejoice in seeing the children smartly turned out in their finery and we celebrate and honour them in style some weeks after their ‘big day’ but only ever as part of the whole Body of Christ.
Information about the reception of these Sacraments can be found in the parish bulletin during the autumn or after enquiry with the Parish Priest and relevant Catechists.
For adults seeking to make their First Confession or Communion, please see below.
In this parish, young people who are in Year 6 or above are invited, usually once a year, to petition the Parish Priest for the Sacrament of Confirmation. In doing so, they (not their parents) must explain clearly why they wish to receive this Sacrament which will complete their full initiation into the life of the Church. With this in mind, namely ‘full initiation’ candidates must be able to demonstrate to the Parish Priest that they are willing to assume the responsibilities of being an active member of the Parish, the very bottom line of which is weekly attendance at Mass. Once again, deferral rather than refusal is at the Parish Priest’s discretion as Custodian of the Sacrament and as a co-worker with the Bishop.
The ordinary minister of Confirmation is the Bishop of the Diocese. He will decide, with the Parish Priest’s recommendation, whomsoever he will Confirm, where this will happen and when. Programmes usually begin during Winter and details will be advertised in the parish bulletin or through this website.
For adults seeking Confirmation, please see below.
The great unsung heroes of the modern age are couples who, defying 21st century secular convention, are prepared to make an absolute life-long commitment based on ‘love’ as interpreted by Jesus, expressed in the Gospels and believed on by the Catholic Church for 2000 years. For such people, marriage is the way to live this out. Forsaking all others, they create a Sacramental life themselves (witnessed to by a minister of the Catholic Church) by which the love that God has for the world takes on solid form.
Such is the magnitude of this vocation that this parish expects couples to undertake at least six months (with very extreme exceptions) of supervised preparation with the Parish Priest and a marriage-course coordinator. In order to marry in the Catholic church at least one of the couple must be a Catholic and, ideally, should have been Confirmed. In the first instance, couples are invited to contact the priest to make necessary individual arrangements. Details for the marriage course will be advertised in the parish bulletin or via this website.
Adults seeking Initiation to the Catholic Faith
There is no proscribed path to Faith; each of us finds our own way in God’s time and for some that is later in life.
Adults who have never received Baptism are invited to speak with the Parish Priest and undertake a supervised period of formation after which they will be baptised and receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion. Adults who have been baptised in other Christian denominations (subject to common recognition) cannot be re-baptised but, after a programme of formation, may be formally accepted into the Church and receive First Communion and Confirmation.
Adults who were baptised as children into the Catholic Church but never received the Sacraments of Holy Communion or Confirmation are invited to speak with the Parish Priest in order to be suitably instructed for the reception of these Sacraments.
The ‘Journey of Faith’ is always tailored to the needs of the individual. Details may be printed in the bulletin, but individuals are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with the Parish Priest to discuss their situation in the strictest confidence.