1 September 2014
Dear Colleagues in the Ministry of Sacramental Preparation,
A piece of well-worn conventional wisdom reminds us that it takes a whole village to raise a child. It takes a whole community, parish and diocese, to prepare our people, especially youngsters, to receive the sacraments that assure us of Jesus Christ’s abiding presence and action in our lives. This is not the labour of a select few; it draws on the efforts, encouragement and prayer of many.
It is with that in mind that this collection of policies and guideliness was put together. These pages are taken directly from the Policy Manual of the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan. Our Office of Evangelization and Catechesis sought to put in one easy booklet the various practices in the diocese by which we prepare our young people to receive sacraments of Baptism, First Reconcilation, First Communion and Confirmation.
As you use this valuable resource, I want you to be aware that you exercise a vital ministry in the life of the local Church. I know that you come to this in various roles: as pastor, parent, parish administrator, educator or catechist. We all play our part; we are members of a team. So our efforts must be done in unity with one another. While there will always be individual circumstances that we must attend to, my goal is to have a unity of approach across our diocese. We are members of one sheepfold, with one shepherd to guide us.
Please keep in mind that the policies found in this handbook call for the sacraments to be celebrated at specified times in the Archdiocese. The Baptism of a young person beyond about the age of seven is treated very differently in the Church from the baptism of infants. As we have established in this Archdiocese, First Reconcilation takes place in grade 2 (or about age 7), First Communion is in grade 3 (or about age 8), and Confirmation is in grade 6 (or about age 11). In particular circumstances, a candidate may receive their sacraments at an age other than those prescribed, but this must always be the exception and not become the norm.
The staff in our Office of Evangelization and Catechesis has carefully researched relevant programs and practical resources to assist the child’s family, parish and Catholic school community in preparing our youth to receive their sacraments. I call on all of you to familiarize yourself with these resources. Please, resist the temptation to devise your own program or to select another. You may find other resources with suitable additions to the program, but it should not replace what is recommended.
Again, I am grateful to you all for your collaboration in this vital ministry. May God bless our children through your care and good example.
Sincerely in Christ the Redeemer,
+ Gerard Pettipas, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Grouard-McLennan