“This sacrament journey is not a one and done but a one and begun“
By Sara Francis
Hundreds of elementary students will be receiving their sacraments this spring.
A combined 237 Grade 2 students and older have been enrolled in the First Reconciliation/First Eucharist sacrament preparation program this year. And last month, about 102 Grade 6 students and adults have received the sacrament of Confirmation.
“My hope is that the families understand that the sacrament journey is only a beginning and not a check mark in a list of things to do in a school year,” said Maureen Ross, St. Michael’s Sacrament Preparation Coordinator.
“This sacrament journey is not a ‘one and done’ but a ‘one and begun’ with their family from this point, and wherever the Lord guides them and their children. It’s very gratifying to hear from parents that their own spiritual journeys had a boost from teaching and learning alongside their children. It gives me great hope for our faith and how it continues to make a difference in the world.”
Ross heads up a large volunteer team comprised of teachers, parents, high school students, religious and parishioners, who are spiritually preparing the children to receive the inward gift of grace through the outward sign of the sacrament.
“Most of our volunteers don’t have children in these programs anymore, but they recognize that we need enthusiastic parishioners who love children, and who love our Lord and want the two to have a lifelong relationship,” said Ross. “They are passionate about the sacrament journey for families. Sacraments are for the community.”
2018 will be the last year the parish uses its in-house program before switching to a diocesan-wide program at Bishop William McGrattan’s request. It will ensure every child receives consistent formation. For example, the Sacrament of Reconciliation will precede the Sacrament of Eucharist. It will also allow for flexibility with scheduling conflicts — families can attend a class at a different parish, offering the same lesson, but at a different time.
Michelle DeCicco has three children aged 15, 13 and 11. Once her youngest child completes Confirmation, all her children will have received their sacraments.
“My children are being brought up in the Catholic faith, so it’s vitality important they receive their sacraments as part of their continuing Catholic faith. I also believe it’s important they understand what they’re receiving, and they go through the prep.
“I’m a firm believer in helping your child, but I’m also a firm believer in them helping themselves because it’s their journey, not ours,” said DiCicco.
She tries to help her children in their faith journey by attending Mass each Sunday and encouraging them to get involved in the life of the church outside of Mass.
St. Michael’s has an active youth ministry program. All students in grades 4-6 are invited to attend Roots on Monday evenings, from 6:30-8 p.m., while those in grades 7-12 are invited to Calling Youth every first Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m.
The next intake for sacrament preparation begins in September.