Eucharist/First Communion

The Sacrament of Holy Eucharist

"At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us." (CCC 1323)

Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, proclaims the Eucharist as the "source and summit of Christian life." (LG 11) This sacrament of initiation that defines us as Catholics, nourishes us to live out our faith, and binds us together as one community is so essential that we are called to celebrate Mass and receive the Eucharist every week.

First Holy Communion for Children

We prepare to receive our First Holy Communion when we are about aged seven. Children are prepared for this sacrament as follows:

  • Living in a Catholic family where they observe their parents and siblings attending Mass and receiving Communion weekly
  • Hearing the Word of God in the family and school through Bible stories and other activities
  • Attending a Catholic faith formation program (CCD, Religious Education or similar) for two consecutive years (example: first and second grade)
  • Attending immediate preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession, Penance) and celebrating that sacrament before their First Communion
  • Attending immediate preparation for the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist
  • Assessment of readiness by the parents and pastor 

Saint Mary's offers and ongoing Faith Formation program for children and families. When it is time for immediate preparation for the sacraments, we work with families to assure that their children are ready for reception of the sacrament.

First Holy Communion for Adults and Older Children

If a child reaches the age of seven with no previous formal religious education or faith formation, we offer the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), adapted for children. Children in this situation prepare for the sacrament as follows:

  • Living in a Catholic family where they attend Mass weekly
  • Hearing the Word of God at Mass, in the family and at school through Bible stories and other activities
  • Attending a Catholic faith formation program (CCD, Religious Education or similar) for one full year 
  • Attending immediate preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession, Penance) and celebrating that sacrament before their First Communion through the RCIA process
  • Participating in the Rites of RCIA as appropriate for the children
  • Attending immediate preparation for the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist through the RCIA process
  • Assessment of readiness by the parents and pastor 

Holy Communion for non-Catholics or those unable to receive Communion

We welcome our fellow Christians to the Mass as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. However, Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. At Saint Mary's non-Catholics may approach the altar at communion time with their arms crossed across their chest to indicate that they will not receive communion.