Sacrament Preparation

A vital part of our Catholic Christian experience is sharing in the Sacraments, and for good reason. The sacraments are the most important things in the world! How so? The sacraments are the privileged ways that Christ continues to be present to us and to give us his life. What could possibly be more important than that?

Accordingly, receiving any of the sacraments requires intentional preparation. Consider the level of intentional preparation that precedes Holy Matrimony and you have an idea of what ought to be the general approach to preparing for all sacraments.

For example, adults who are seeking to enter the Church (e.g., people who have not been baptized, people who have been baptized in other faith traditions, and baptized Catholics who never completed the other sacraments of initiation: Eucharist and/or Confirmation) typically spend a year or more of preparation in accordance with the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).

How are children to be prepared?

According to the Church, parents have the awesome responsibility to educate and train their child in the Catholic faith, ideally beginning in the earliest years. In addition, they are also expected to prepare him/her to receive the sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation. For some this may come as a shock. 

To fulfill this obligation, you don't need to be an experienced catechist or have a deep knowledge of the faith. But here's what you must do (and do consistently):

  • Attend Mass as a family every Sunday and other Holy Days of Obligation. Discuss the readings and lessons from the Homily, explain and model reverence and participation in the Mass (age appropriate of course!), and express your eagerness to attend Mass.
  • Pray together as a family at home in a variety of ways, incorporating some of our uniquely Catholic practices and devotions (e.g., Holy Rosary).
  • Teach your child about Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith. Books, videos, religious instruction, and religious art (visual and music) are all helpful. is a treasure and it's free to all tri-parish families through St. Henry parish—be sure to use it!
  • Model a Catholic faith that is a priority for you, that is lively and growing, and demonstrate your own love for frequent reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist.

As far as preparing your child to receive individual sacraments, our tri-parish Faith Formation Team is here to assist you!


According to Church Law, infants are to be baptized during the first few weeks of life (Canon 867) and parents are to be instructed properly on the meaning of this sacrament and the obligations attached to it (Canon 851). Therefore, all parents in our tri-parish family are expected to participate in a pre-baptism class before their first child's baptism, preferably during pregnancy. For an older child under the age of 7 who was not baptized as an infant, this same one-time parent class is required. Check our tri-parish bulletin to see when the next class will be offered. 

Unbaptized children who have reached 7 years of age (known as catechetical age or the age of reason) need to be prepared to receive all three Sacraments of Initiation at the same time — Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist — at our Easter Vigil Mass. In conjunction with a grade-level faith formation program, a schedule of Special Sacrament Preparation classes offered by the Faith Formation Team can be set up for each child.

First Reconciliation & First Holy Communion

When a baptized child reaches 2nd grade, or 7 years of age, it is time for him/her to get ready to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist for the first time. This includes education on the sacraments at Bishop Leibold (or other Catholic grade school), or through one of our tri-parish faith formation programs for children (PSR or GIFT), or sometimes through home schooling. For children in 3rd grade and above who have missed these "first" sacraments, Special Sacrament Preparation classes are offered by the Faith Formation Team in conjunction with a grade-level faith formation program.

First sacrament preparation is separate from the general education on the sacraments that a child receives either at a Catholic school or in religious education or in a homeschool setting. Children work through a preparation book for each sacrament (e.g., Signs of Grace from the Augustine Institute). As well, parents work through material as adult learners to update/deepen their own understanding of the sacraments and to give them tools to support their child’s preparation.

Pastors have the directive (and by extension his Faith Formation Team) to ensure children are "correctly prepared" and "sufficiently disposed" to receive these first sacraments (Canon 914). This obligation is nearly impossible to fulfill in the case of a child who has not had a foundational year of general religious education (e.g., 1st grade) preceding the year of sacrament preparation. This foundational year is where children are introduced to the Mass, the sacraments, and prayer upon which sacrament preparation is based. While not currently mandated in our diocese, the Faith Formation Team views sacrament preparation as a two-year process no matter what age a child begins.

The readiness required for the Sacrament of Reconciliation consists in the capacity to discern between right and wrong, together with an understanding, appropriate to the child’s age, of what sin is. The readiness required for First Communion is similar: the ability to understand the difference between the Eucharist and ordinary bread (and wine).

Children who are well prepared for Reconciliation generally welcome the opportunity to experience God’s mercy. This occurs when the family is intimately involved with the formation of a child’s moral conscience, and when parents affirm and reinforce frequent participation in the sacrament by their own example.

Children’s preparation for their First Holy Communion also begins in the home. The family has the most important role in communicating the Christian and human values that form the foundation of a child’s understanding of the Eucharist. Children who participate with their family in the Mass experience the Eucharistic mystery in an initial way and gradually learn to join with the liturgical assembly in prayer.

Click the icon below to register for First Sacrament Preparation.



The purpose of the Sacrament of Confirmation is to perfect in us that which was begun in Baptism. We are born spiritually in the waters of Baptism and become sharers in the divine life of the most Blessed Trinity. But at this stage our spiritual life, like the life of a child, is largely self-centered. We tend to be preoccupied with the needs of our own soul, with the effort to "be good." We cannot remain wholly self-centered, however, if we understand what it means to be a member of Christ's Mystical Body, the Church.

In Confirmation, we receive a special strength (grace) of the Holy Spirit by which our faith is deepened, so that it will be strong enough not only for our own needs but for the needs of others with whom we are to share it — strong enough to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses to Christ, to confress the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross (CCC 1303).

The readiness required for the Sacrament of Confirmation consists in (1) greatly desiring to receive the sacrament, and (2) being open to the Holy Spirit directing one's life. Specifically, a candidate for Confirmation who has attained the age of reason must profess the faith, be in the state of grace, have the intention of receiving the sacrament, and be prepared to assume the role of disciple and witness to Christ (CCC 1319).

In our tri-parish family the Sacrament of Confirmation is open to youth in 7th through 12th grade. In Confirmation preparation, the Faith Formation Team walks with teens to help them grow deeply rooted in Christ to the point where they feel impelled to become his modern day apostles. For us to accompany them on their faith journey, teens must necessarily be participating in our Junior High or High School Youth Ministry.

Click the icon below to register for Confirmation Preparation.




Associate Director of Sacrament Preparation

[email protected]