FIRST COMMUNION PROGRAM OUTLINE – 2023/24 YEAR
- Receiving the Sacrament of First Holy Communion, is part of a three-step process, starting with Baptism, whereby we are fully initiated into the Church and our Catholic Faith. Children in the Archdiocese of Toronto ordinarily receive the Sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion in their grade two year.
- “The Eucharist is the ‘source and summit of the Christian life’. The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324)
- If from the beginning Christians have celebrated the Eucharist despite the great diversity of times and liturgies, it is because we know ourselves to be bound by the command the Lord, which he gave to his friends and followers right before he died: “Do this in remembrance of me.”
- We carry out this command of the Lord by celebrating the memorial of his sacrifice. In so doing, we offer to the Father what he has himself given us: the gifts of his creation, bread and wine which, by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the words of Christ, become the Body and Blood of Christ. Jesus is thus really and mysteriously made present. We must therefore consider the Eucharist as:
- thanksgiving and praise to the Father, the sacrificial memorial of Christ and his Body;
- the presence of Christ by the power of his word and of his Spirit. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1356, 1357, 1358).
B. WHAT IF MY CHILD IS IN GRADES 3 – 6?
- Normally, the Sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Communion are celebrated in the grade two year. However, it is never too late to celebrate these two important Sacraments.
- If your child is in grades 3 to 6, he/she can still be registered for the First Communion Preparation Program.
C. WHERE THE SACRAMENT IS TO BE RECEIVED
- Please note that sacraments are to be celebrated in the family’s home parish where the family attends church each Sunday or the parish within whose boundaries they live.
- If you live outside the Parish Boundaries, then you must have been registered and attending the Church for at least one year to register for receiving the sacrament at St. Gertrudes; otherwise, your child will have to receive this sacrament at the parish within whose boundaries you live.
- Please note that the sacraments are not school celebrations like graduation or prom, but they are parish celebrations. So please do not think that all the children of your child’s school will receive their sacraments from one particular church. Rather, as stated, each child will receive the sacrament at their family home parish. The sacraments have been celebrated by the local church communities from the very beginning of the Church.
- Click on the link see the Map of St. Gertrude’s Parish Boundaries on our website: https://stgertrudesos.archtoronto.org/en/contact-us/parish-information/
D. CAPACITY LIMITS FOR THIS YEAR’S PROGRAM
- We are limited in the number of children we can accommodate into our preparation program because of the fact that we only have the resources to hold two classes each Saturday. This there fore limits the number of candidates whom we can prepare to receive the Sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion.
- In order to secure a place in the program, you will need to fill out the online registration form AND attend the Parent Information Meeting (details below).
E. PARENT VOLUNTEERS ESSENTIAL
- The preparation sessions will be held in-person, which will only be possible if parents step up to volunteer as leader table facilitators, with the help of professional teacher leaders who will do the actual teaching. The volunteer leaders do not have to teach anything, they just ensure that the children are participating.
F. EXPECTATION AND COMMITMENT REQUIREMENTS
- Please also note that except in genuine cases of sickness, illness or hospitalization, attendance at the Sunday Mass (or Sunday vigil Mass on Saturday evenings) will be a real requirement and expectation in order for your son/daughter to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
- Activities such as sports, or dance or other such commitments will not constitute a valid reason for failing to come and worship God each Sunday at the Holy Mass. This is one of the Ten Commandments.
- Please keep this in mind as you come to your decision to commit to our parish preparation program and Mass expectation. Do not take it on if you are not ready to do so, otherwise it is going to cause a lot of stress and tension for all of us.
G. FIRST COMMUNION MASS DATES
- There will be four choices of dates for First Communion Masses. The link to register for one of those Masses will be sent out at a later date. There will be limited space and so when the time comes to register for the Mass, only the Masses that still have room will be available.
1. Weekend of April 20 – 21: Saturday 5pm, Sunday 9 & 11 am
- Rehearsal for above Masses will be on the prior Saturday morning, April 13 at 10 am
2. Weekend of May 4 – 5: Saturday 5pm, Sunday 9 & 11 am
- Rehearsal for above Masses will be on the prior Saturday morning, April 27 at 10 am
3. Weekend of June 8 – 9: Saturday 5pm, Sunday 9 & 11 am
- Rehearsal for above Masses will be on the prior Saturday morning, June 1 at 10 am
4. Weekend of June 22 – 23: Saturday 5pm, Sunday 9 & 11 am
- Rehearsal for above Masses will be on the prior Saturday morning, June 15 at 10 am
H. FIRST COMMUNION MASS -- ATTIRE
- The boys should dress in dark pants with a white shirt. I would encourage them to wear a dark solid color tie if possible. A jacket is not required but certainly allowed.
- The girls may wear a white first communion dress. A very light-colored spring dress is also acceptable. We ask that the girls do not wear tiaras. If they are wearing gloves they must be removed before coming forward for communion.
- Tiaras are jeweled head ornaments that are crown-like and meant for formal occasions and are greatly associated with the idea of a princess. The Church is referred to as the “Bride of Christ,” which is a different concept from that of a “princess.” Head ornaments like tiaras are beautiful and can be worn afterwards at the reception or party marking the day’s celebrations.
- What would be appropriate and ties into the ultimate sacramental goal of our spousal union with Christ and the meaning thereof, would be a white veil or the tradition of a white mantilla which has a beautiful long tradition behind it in the church. Even a simple white coloured headband, a symbol of purity could be worn as long as it is not jeweled; nor should it be of a precious metal color such as gold or silver.
- In this way we keep the focus on Christ, particularly on this special occasion as the children receive the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ for the very first time.
- We want the boys and girls to look their best that day but not because it is just another formal occasion; rather, it is because as mentioned, they will be receiving the Lord Jesus in the most unique way possible this side of Heaven. It is a most momentous and holy occasion, and we believe that their attire should reflect this reality. Hopefully, the above guidelines will be of help to you, as you prepare for this most blessed day.
I. REQUIREMENTS FOR PROGRAM REGISTRATION
1. Completed Registration Form
- Opening on the parish website Saturday morning at 8 am on September 9, 2023.
- Registration for Confirmation will remain open until Friday evening at 8 pm on September 30.
2. Parishioner of St. Gertrude’s Parish and Proof of Residency
- Sacraments are celebrated in the family’s home parish where the family attends church each Sunday or the parish within whose boundaries they live.
- Therefore, in order to participate in the sacramental preparation program for First Communion, the candidate must be living in the parish boundaries or the family must have been registered and attending Sunday Mass at the parish for at least a year.
- Click on the link to see the Map of St. Gertrude’s Parish Boundaries on our website: https://stgertrudesos.archtoronto.org/en/contact-us/parish-information/
- During the process of filling out the online registration form, you will be required to provide a copy of your proof of residency by uploading a copy of your Driver’s License or Ontario Identity Photo Card.
- You can also bring a copy of your proof of residency in an envelope with the your child's name written on the envelope, along with a note indicating that it is for the Sacrament of Confirmation, to the Parent Information Meeting.
- We will not be able to photocopy your proof of residency on that day, so please make sure to photocopy it before attending the Parent Information Meeting.
3. Baptism Certificate for the one seeking to receive First Communion.
- A scanned copy or picture of the Baptism Certificate can be uploaded at the time you register your son/daughter for the program through the website.
- You can also bring a copy of the Baptismal Certificate to the Parent Information Meeting. Please do not bring the original document as we will not be able to make photocopies for you at that time.
4. Payment of $110 fee.
- Payment is to be made at the Parent Information Meeting and can be made in cash or by cheque, payable to “St. Gertrude Catholic Church”. Place the payment in an envelope with your child’s name written on it, along with a note indicating that it is for First Communion.
- Due to limited space, payment on the day of the Parent Information Meeting will be required, in order to secure a place for your son/daughter in the program.
- Please let us know if you have more than one child registering for the program. Also, please let us know in advance of the Parent Information Meeting, if you are unable to pay the full fee, so that we can work something out that is manageable for you.
- PLEASE NOTE: Should any family be experiencing financial hardships in these very challenging times, please do not let this prevent your child from proceeding to prepare for and receive the Sacrament of First Holy Communion. The Church will do whatever needs to be done to make this happen. Let the family do what it can do withing it’s means at this time..
5. Attendance at one of the Parent Information Meetings
- Attendance at the Parent Information Meeting will be required in order to secure a spot for your son/daughter in the program.
- There will be two choices for the one-hour Parent Information Meeting.
- Wednesday September 20 at 7 pm
- Saturday September 23 at 10:00 am
- Only one parent or guardian is required to attend one of the meetings listed above. Although they are welcome to, the children receiving the Sacrament of First Holy Communion do not have to attend the meeting.
6. Attendance at all 10 in-person sessions and completion of assigned work
- Sessions will run on Saturday mornings and attendance is mandatory. Parents are welcomed but not required to attend the sessions.
- There will be two options for the preparation sessions. On the on-line registration form, you will be asked to choose which one of the two sessions you would like your son or daughter to attend on the on-line registration form.
- Once you have selected a session, that will be the session that your son or daughter will attend. If at any point you will need to switch to a different session for one weekend or on a more permanent basis, you must contact Lisette Romero at LiRomero@archtoronto.org to request the change.
- Below are the two options of times for the preparation sessions:
- Saturday mornings at 9:00 am
- Saturday mornings at 10:45 am
- There will also be work for the parents to do with the children at home, in between each session.
- Preparation Sessions will take place on the following dates:
This first group of dates is to prepare your son/daughter to make his/her First Reconciliation.
- October 14, 2023
- October 28, 2023
- November 4, 2023
- November 11, 2023
- November 25, 2023
This second group of dates is to prepare your son/daughter to receive his/her First Holy Communion.
- January 13, 2024
- January 27, 2024
- February 10, 2024
- February 24, 2024
- March 23, 2024
- First Reconciliation Service Dates:
(Your son/daughter will make his/her First Confession on one of the two dates below, before moving on to prepare for First Communion.)
- Wednesday November 29, from 7 pm – 8:30 pm.
- Wednesday December 6, from 7 pm – 8:30 pm.
7. Weekly attendance at Sunday Mass or at the Sunday Vigil Mass on Saturday evenings at 5 pm except for serious reasons, such as illness.
- Sports and other similar activities do not qualify as reasons to miss the Sunday or Saturday evening Mass).
- St. Gertrude Sunday Masses are at the following times: Saturdays at 5 pm, Sundays at 9 am, 11 am, and 6:15 pm.
- Green Passports will be given to the children, which must be stamped after each weekend that they attend Mass.
If you have any questions please email our Lay Pastoral Associate, Lisette Romero at: LiRomero@archtoronto.org.
Click here to register for the First Communion Program