Catechesis for elementary age children should take place during an eight year period, beginning when the child is about six years of age (first grade). The exact organization/administration of the catechetical program is determined by the local parish.
Many parishes provide religious education programs for Hispanic children centered around the celebration of the sacraments. For example, Year 1 – Pre-Communion classes; Year 2 – Communion classes; Years 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 – Pre- Confirmation classes; Year 8 – Confirmation classes.
Other parishes may decide to structure their programs more around the grade levels the children are in for secular subjects, (Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, etc.).
FIRST SACRAMENT GUIDELINES
As primary educators of their children, parents have the first and most important influence on the faith development of their children. Therefore, all catechesis for sacraments must involve parents. Parent meetings and catechetical materials that provide for parental involvement are essential for the success of sacrament programs.
At least one session with parents should be provided. It would include theological input for the parents as adult Catholics, suggestions for how they can enrich and support the catechesis their children receive in their religious education program, and the practicalities involved in the preparation for and reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
A social reception in the parish after the celebration of the sacrament is strongly encouraged. This is the community’s opportunity to rejoice with the families in the spiritual growth of the children.
At least one session with parents should be provided. It would include theological input for the parents as adult Catholics, and suggestions for how they can enrich and support the catechesis their children receive in their religious education program.
The practicalities involved in the preparation for and reception of First Eucharist should also be explained. This includes special Communion projects, dress on the day of First Eucharist, practice for the liturgy, and what is allowed to be carried. It also includes the role of the padrinos and parents.
At least one session for parents and one for sponsors, or one combined parent/sponsor meeting should be provided. It would include theological input for parents/sponsors as adult Catholics, and information about the requirements for reception of Confirmation.
If Confirmation is celebrated in the parish, a practice/rehearsal meeting with the candidate, sponsors (2), and parents may also be required.
If Confirmation is celebrated at the Cathedral, both sponsors may accompany the candidate and be seated with him/her. The parish may request through the Archdiocesan Office of Worship that the Mass be bi-lingual. The candidate also requests at the time of the actual conferring of the sacrament by the Bishop that the words of the sacrament be given in Spanish or English – whichever the candidate prefers.
Note: Parishes should require that Quinceanera candidates either already be confirmed, or be in or registered for Confirmation preparation before they are admitted to the parish’s celebration of their Quinceanera.
Programs printed for the celebration of First Sacraments should be in Spanish and in English for various parts of the liturgy. Those parts of the liturgy that are proclaimed by a lector/reader should be printed in the language that is not used by the lector. For example, if the Reading is proclaimed in English, it should be printed in Spanish, and vice-versa. Effort should be made to use bi-lingual hymns.
For additional information contact:
Reverend Monsignor John M. Unger
Catholic Education Office
20 Archbishop May Drive
St. Louis MO 63119