Preparing the Year 3 children to receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion is the joint responsibility of all members of staff, Father Jonathon (our parish priest), Father Tomas, the Year 3 teaching team and the RE Leader.
We have very strong links with our parish community and this is vital to the successful running of the First Holy Communion programme. Photographs of the children are displayed in church so that members of the parish know who they are praying for.
Although the children are prepared in Year 3, we build on the knowledge and understanding gained in the earlier years as well as the child's faith from home.
The programme begins in Autumn 1 when the children participate in an Enrolment Mass at Sacred Heart and Holy Souls Church, Acocks Green. This enables the children and their families to make a clear symbol of commitment and dedication to the programme.
The children take part in RE lessons focusing on both sacraments and also preparation Masses leading up to receiving the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.
The children also take part in many Sunday Celebration Masses leading up to the Sacrament of the Eucharist at Sacred Heart and Holy Souls Church, Acocks Green. The children receive the sacrament of Reconciliation in November and the sacrament of the Eucharist in May.
Reconciliation is a special occasion whereby children are supported by both staff and parents.
On the day of Holy Communion, a great emphasis is placed on the child and their family receiving the sacrament together. The rest of the school and parish community support them by preparing and taking part in the special mass.
Following the receiving of the Eucharist, the children are ready to present themselves to the parish in a special Sunday mass.
During their final year at Holy Souls, the children in Year 6 prepare for and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. The year begins with a residential to Alton Castle where the children learn lots about their faith and discipleship. The preparation fully starts with an Enrolment mass in January which is prepared and led by the children along with the parish community. This shows that both parents and Confirmandi are committed to take on the responsibilities placed before them.
This is followed by an RE inspire workshop. During this, the children find out more about the programme of preparation and the significance of the sacrament in their own lives. The children are prepared following a school based programme with weekly lessons recommended to us by the Archdiocese. This programme looks at all different aspects of the Sacrament, the symbols of Confirmation and what they mean, its links with other Sacraments and what it now means to become grown up members of the church. A visit to the Cathedral and Mother Church, St. Chad's, is also arranged for the spring term. The children of the parish work with a catechist at Church to be ready for Confirmation.
As part of their work, children prepare a project on the saint of their choice. They are encouraged to select the name of a saint who has inspired them in some way. A sponsor is also chosen and has the role of supporting the child in their spiritual life.
The summer term sees an after school Confirmation meeting for all parents. We meet in Church with Father Jonathan or Father Tomas . In this meeting the importance of the sacrament is reiterated and the logistics of the Confirmation masses are reviewed. Just before their Confirmation, the children receive a visit from the Bishop in school, when he will meet them and ask questions of them making sure that they are ready and prepared. The children often have an opportunity to ask the Bishop questions too!
Our Confirmation masses happen over two different evenings. The masses themselves are great celebrations with the whole school family coming together to mark the Confirmation of our Year 6 children. The children of the parish make their Confirmation on either of these two evenings. The children all receive their certificates at an end of year celebration mass.
After Confirmation, the children also have the opportunity of a spiritual retreat to Harvington Hall which enriches and deepens the understanding of their faith now that they are filled with the gifts of the Spirit.