About Sacramental Preparation
The reception of a sacrament is a religious experience. The sacrament has both an educational and a religious component. Each sacrament requires a change of heart of conversion that is compatible with the ability and age of the person. Religious knowledge is important and cannot be neglected.
Prior to contacting the pastor to set a date for baptism for a child, parents are asked to register and participate in a Baptism Preparation Class. The class is held on the fourth Tuesday of the month. It is requested that both parents attend. Chosen godparents are also welcome to attend. We love to see and meet your children, too.
Parents are requested to be members of Saint Bernard Parish and participate at weekly Mass as well as life of the parish. Parents who are actively involved in the parish and have attended a previous Baptism Preparation Class are not required to attend class again; however, they are welcome if they wish. Please contact the Director of Religious Formation at 608/249-7288 x230 for more details or to register for the class.
The Order of First Reconciliation and First Communion
Code of Canon Law and the National Catechetical Directory states that children have the right to make their First Confession and receive their First Communion beginning at the age of reason, around seven years old.
In the late 60’s, the U.S. Catholic Church was permitted to experiment with the age of the Celebration of Reconciliation. The value gained from the experimentation was to bring more clearly into focus the theology and meaning of the Sacrament for adults as well as children. We learned that our understanding of this sacrament grows as we grow, and this enforces the need for continual catechesis and celebration of Reconciliation. Catechesis should be an integral part of each year’s program. You will find child-orientated and inter-generational communal celebrations as a part of our sacramental life at Saint Bernard.
While the norm of the church is that Confession should precede the reception of First Eucharist, there are some exceptions. After parents and children have participated in the preparation program and have consulted with the pastor and Director of Religious Formation, they may decide to delay reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation for a time. NOTE: The only time the church requires the Sacrament of Reconciliation is when a person is conscious of having committed a grave sin.
Second graders and their parents will receive information via parent meetings in order to prepare for both Sacraments in accordance to the Church’s teaching. Parents whose children are older and have not received preparation are invited to come to the meetings so they can prepare their child(ren) for these Sacraments.
Confirmation completes the initiation into the Christian community that began at Baptism. It is a celebration of Pentecost, truly a celebration of the active presence of the Holy Spirit within us.
The Confirmation Program, used as a preparation for this sacrament, prepares the candidates to live as full members of the adult faith community. This means that the candidates not only become more aware of their responsibilities as members of the faith community, but also develop a more meaningful participation in the Eucharist. In this year of preparation, parents and/or sponsors will join the candidates in several meetings and church rituals. The immediate preparation will include:
- A Personal Interview
- A Series of Classes
- Meetings with Sponsor
- Some Form of Service/Journaling
- A Group Retreat
Entering the Catholic Faith
The Rite of Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is a process of entering the Catholic tradition. Anyone who is interested in learning more about the Catholic tradition or are seeking Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation and/or Confirmation are encouraged to call the Director of Religious Formation at 608/249-7288 x230 for an appointment.
Many times people returning to the Church find this process helpful in their journey. It must be understood that the Church does not force anyone in the process but remains a companion, offering information and faith sharing.
After a period of formation, the Rite of Initiation usually takes place at the Easter Vigil service as participants are welcomed into full membership in the church.
Couples anticipating marriage should make arrangements with the Pastor at least six months in advance of the wedding. Call the Parish Office at 608/249-9256 x222 for more information.