I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. John 6:51
When we welcome our children to receive Holy Communion ........
Within this Parish we willingly embrace the Diocesan practice of welcoming our children to receive Holy Communion: prior to their Confirmation, when they and their parents believe they are ready and desirous to do so. In the Gospel of St Matthew, Jesus instructed his disciples to: (St Matthew 19.14) “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of Heaven.”
This would usually take place sometime after the child has started primary school, and so has gained some capabilities of learning, as there is a requirement for preparation prior to them being welcomed. This preparation is age related and we usually try to include the parents in this.
The only requirement of the Diocese for a child to be welcomed to receive Holy Communion is that they must have first been baptised. However if the child has been regularly attending services and asks to receive Holy Communion, but has not been baptised at that time: arrangements can be made between the Parish Priest and Parents for the baptism to happen prior to them being welcomed to Holy Communion.
Baptism is an important sacrament of the Church, and you will find more information about this on this same web-site. Baptism can happen at any age of course, but in our church we encourage parents to bring their children for baptism as soon after birth as possible, just as they were encouraged to do in the New Testament period of the church. On the day of Pentecost, when the people were asking Peter what they must do to be saved, he told them: (Acts 2.38,39) “Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For this promise is to you and to your children and to all who are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.” But baptism is only the first step in our Christian journey of faith: and because we are usually unable to answer for our self when baptised as a child, so our parents and Godparents speak on our behalf: there is a second step that we must also take. This is known as the sacrament of Confirmation: and again you will find more information about Confirmation on this web-site.
Confirmation usually happens when children start to become adults at the age of 12 or 13 years of age. In this sacrament, they are encouraged to speak for themselves and own (or confirm) the promises that were made on their behalf by their parents and Godparents at their baptism. At their Confirmation, the Bishop will lay his hands upon their head and they will receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit as St Peter promised in the passage above. When an adult is baptised, they are usually confirmed by the Bishop at the same service and are welcomed to receive their first Communion as well.
Because of this time delay between baptism and confirmation for children: The church in recent years has come to see that many of our children who regularly worship with their families, do not understand why they are not able to receive Communion (the sacrament of the bread and wine) when they come to the altar with their parents: and after a while this can have a negative effect upon their faith, because they feel excluded. Therefore the church has come to the decision, that when a child begins to seriously ask if they can receive the sacrament (the bread and wine, or the body and blood of Christ) then they can be prepared to be welcomed to receive Holy Communion after a short time of preparation. However, it is very important, that this welcoming to Communion is not seen to be replacing the need for Confirmation: and that our children are further encouraged when the time is right, to present themselves to the Bishop for Confirmation.
QUESTIONS OFTEN ASKED ABOUT BEING WELCOMED TO HOLY COMMUNION.
Can the child’s Godparents be involved? Yes we very much encourage this. Especially during the service where they are welcomed officially. This would be seen as one of the roles of a Godparent.
Is there a fee for this? Definitely not! The service to welcome the child to Communion and receive their first Communion will be held at our usual Sunday morning service.
Is there a cost for the preparation material? There might be. Different Parishes use different preparation material. Sometimes they compile their own, but usually they purchase a workbook for each child which they then keep afterwards. These are professionally prepared and specifically aged related so they are very good, but usually not expensive.
Can we invite members of the family to attend this special day? Yes we very much encourage you to invite other family members and even friends to attend and help your child to celebrate this special occasion.
Do they need to have any special clothing for the occasion? Not really, just dress them as you would normally for church on Sunday.
If you need more information, please contact the Church Office on 08 9535 6152 for details.