Is there a list of things that kids doing First Holy Communion are expected to know?

I am coordinating classes for First Holy Communion this year, and I’m fairly new at this.

Last year, I was told that if the children are asking for this Sacrament, they are to be considered “ready,” so I didn’t worry too much about the content of our program. We taught the kids the order of the Mass, we prayed with them, we told them that Jesus loves them very much, and we talked about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

However, they misbehaved themselves at their First Holy Communion Mass and talked among themselves during the Mass, so this year, the priest wants to interview the children individually to see if they are properly prepared to receive this Sacrament.

I am wondering what he will be expecting the children to know - is there a standard list of things that kids are supposed to know, for this Sacrament? (And, yes, we are also working on deportment and self-discipline.)

I encourage you to teach them about the saints, like Imelda, Faustina, Don Bosco, and Padre Pio. Also tell them about the fruits of Holy Communion.

I also encourage you to teach them two simple things:

  1. Jesus is in the Eucharist
  2. The fulfillment of the Passover

Thank you. There is a time constraint. We have 15 minutes a week, for three weeks. There is also a four-hour Retreat, but the priest is going to be interviewing the children during the Retreat, so they need to know everything beforehand.

What would you consider the absolute essentials, other than the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist? ie: what is he likely to ask them, that they need to know the correct answer to?

The children are about seven years old.

Why would knowing about those saints be essential for preparation for First Communion?

What exactly are the fruits of Holy Communion that children need to know?


  1. Jesus in not IN the Eucharist. That is the heresy of consubstantiation
  2. I really don’t think second graders are going to understand this.

I’m not being critical of you in any way jmcrae, God bless you for being willing to do this for the children, but how can you possibly be expected to have the children prepared in 45 minutes time to be ready to receive first Holy Communion? One of my sons just did this 2 weeks ago, and we spent about 8 hours in classes over several weeks, plus we read from his books and talked about it outside of class time. And this for a group that was almost entirely Catholic school students, who have religion class as part of their regular school day. The four hour retreat is OK, but it may be hard to keep a tribe of seven year olds focused for that amount of time. As far as what they should know to pass the examination I guess it depends if he is trying to gauge maturity or knowledge. It seems it would be more productive to determine maturity before they go through the process and the retreat to be told “Sorry not yet, but try again next year.” If it is knowledge, I’m not sure what the expectation could be in 45 minutes. I would ask him what he wants.

You need to ask your priest what… exactly… does he expect the children to be formed to? It’s not only a pop-quiz type presentation that would do the children any good for preparation for receiving our Lord and Savior AS the Eucharist.

Second grade… um… they need to know the difference between right and wrong.

That’s why… at least in the year that I received my First Communion… everybody in class HAD to go to Confession… first.

yes… all of us kids were standing in line… maybe with a list of sins we had each committed in our hands (optional!!). I think I remember the sins that I confessed were the kinds that kids commit when we have brothers and sisters (of which, I have both).

Ultimately… 45 minutes preparation for THE sacrament that to this day many Catholics don’t even know IS the Lord, Himself…

well… as I said. It would be doing the children a HUGE disservice to limit their formation to 45 minutes total of CLASS time. Especially because it takes a few minutes to settle the group down… and a few minutes to close out the class.

Um… what does your Bishop say? I’m mentioning this NOT as a suggestion that you by-pass your priest. Simply that … your Bishop is the one whose role in his ordination is as “teacher.”

Okay. I remember exactly what I (and everyone in my class) had to learn… and pass tests on… before receiving our First Communion.

We were in the 3rd Grade… Eight years old.


What does the word mean?

What are the physical pieces of the sacrament of the Eucharist?

Does it count if you have grape juice instead of wine? Why not?

Can we just have crackers and not bread? Why not?

What does the word “tran-substantiation” mean?

A discussion lead by you on ***what does the phrase “Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity” mean? *** Can’t it be just that the host be called the “bread?” Why not? Can’t the wine just be called the wine? Why… or why not? It has to do with the timing… before consecration by the priest… or after the priest consecrates it.

The difference between “matter” and “accident.”

**CREED **

Apostles Creed – what EACH of the tenets in the Apostles Creed mean

Nicene Creed – why have a Nicene Creed when we already HAD the Apostles Creed? (be prepared to ask that question in front of the class… take their “guesses” … and then tell them WHY the Nicene Council was called)

The part in the Bible where some of Jesus’ followers ditched him… because they just could not accept that they had to EAT His Body.


You have to know what each phrase in each of these prayers mean.

Our Father
Hail Mary
Glory Be


And… why pray… at all?

I wouldn’t go into the stories of the saints.

I would, however, tell them about a couple of the approved Eucharistic Miracles.

Especially, include at least the reality of the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano.

Here’s just the first part of the article. You can find other sources for Eucharistic Miracles by Googling the words “eucharistic miracles.”

Physician Tells of Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano

Edoardo Linoli Verified Authenticity of the Phenomenon

ROME, MAY 5, 2005 ( Dr. Edoardo Linoli says he held real cardiac tissue in his hands, when some years ago he analyzed the relics of the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano, Italy.

The phenomenon dates back to the eighth century. A Basilian monk, who had doubts about the real presence of Christ in the sacred species, was offering Mass, in a church dedicated to St. Legontian in the town of Lanciano.

When he pronounced the words of the consecration, the host was miraculously changed into physical flesh and the wine into physical blood.

Later the blood coagulated and the flesh remained the same. These relics were kept in the cathedral.

Here’s the page at Google that I got when I googled the phrase – “eucharistic miracles.” On it is the link from which I took that page about the miracle of Lanciano.

Of course, there are MANY Eucharistic miracles.

It’s just that the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano seems to be the most frequently referenced.

When they see it… read the story… the children would really “get” the reality of Jesus – HIMSELF – being present in the Holy Eucharist.*:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7DKUS

It’s a complicated and delicate situation, with the Bishop’s office. The priest thinks like I do - that the kids need more preparation time. One purpose of the interview might be to collect hard data that justifies expanding our Sacramental Preparation process. However, I don’t want the kids to just be guinea pigs for this purpose - I am also determined to ensure that they get the formation they need, at least as far as is humanly possible.

So, thank you very much for your list - I will put it to good use! :thumbsup:

In our diocese kids are required to go through a two year preparation for FHC which includes weekly classes (1 hour each) from October thorugh the beginning of May.

That seems very sensible. :slight_smile:

your diocese should have a guideline for what is taught at each grade level, vocabulary, concepts, prayers etc., and your textbook should have a pre-test and post-test for each grade level, and a test for each unit. that is the best place to start. your diocese should also have a guideline for what is covered at sacramental classes for parents and candidates. The interview is actually supposed to be part of discerning readiness for sacraments, esp. communion and confirmation, by the pastor or person he delegates.

I will bet you a crate of bibles and 100 boxes of crayons that the children acting up at Mass were those who had not been attending Mass regularly with their famililes.

if your pastor or bishop or parents think you can prepare children for sacraments in 15 minute time slots for 3 weeks plus a retreat, they don’t know many kids.

It’s tempting to make a list of complaints with regard to that situation; suffice that there is an obstacle that we are working to overcome.

I will bet you a crate of bibles and 100 boxes of crayons that the children acting up at Mass were those who had not been attending Mass regularly with their famililes.

You would win that bet - unfortunately, I need to hang on to both my Bibles and my crayons. :wink:

If your pastor or bishop or parents think you can prepare children for sacraments in 15 minute time slots for 3 weeks plus a retreat, they don’t know many kids.

I’ve been working with kids for 30 years, and my personal experience is that if they don’t have things repeated to them over and over and over again, in a variety of formats (posters on the wall about it, diagrams on the white board, story-telling, poetry, skits, learning/composing a song about it, colouring/drawing a picture of it, hands-on experimentation, memorable short statements, and having it explained out to them in excruciating detail) they don’t remember a single thing.

Essential material always needs to be presented in no fewer that five out of the nine learning styles, in order for most kids to retain the information in long-term memory.

You get the occasional keener who just reads the book the night before the first class, understands it, and remembers it all without having to break it open, analyze it, and experience it as an art form, or make pictures, music, drama, and poetry out of it, but that’s extremely rare.

I am going to guess (I won’t bet, you need your supplies and I need mine) that your parish and/or diocese is one who has embarked on the happy plan of “we will prepare the parents, they will prepare the children” for sacraments.

I will assume “we will prepare the parents” means they are handed a workbook with perhaps 10 minutes of introduction, and are then expected to take it home and do the (very frivolous) “lessons” with their child over a period of time. I will bet the farm on this: those books sit on a kitchen table, get kicked around, maybe stowed safely in the child’s room if the parent is conscientious, but almost never get used in the ways intended.

I will go even further to assume that often or always 1st communion comes before 1st confession, because “children this age are not capable of sin”.

this course of action indicates of course that not only to the leaders involved know very little about “children that age” but they don’t know much about what parents are able and willing to do at home, and they know little or nothing about the real pedagogy in the faith. Look at all the support homeschoolers look for and they do it by choice, and spend at least as much time preparing for teaching as in teaching itself.

I will go even further and assume that

Nailed it - yes, this is precisely what we are dealing with, at the Diocescan level. :slight_smile:

Added to that, the influential people in our parish who have bought into this line of thinking, and it’s a very up-hill battle that Father and I are attempting to wage, here.

I have to say, though, that the schools are very good. The religion teachers are on board with our way of thinking - they just need the right tools to work with. :slight_smile:

in reply to the actual question, get hold of the 2nd year book from any good religion series, which is usually the one that emphasizes first confession and first communion (NOT a specific sacramental prep book, which each publisher also has). that book will have unit and final assessments in the book, or in the catechist guide, or as blackline masters. those will give you an idea of what the children should know. because the actual textbooks (not the prep books, which are usually pretty fluffy) are also used in Catholic schools they are formatted as lessons with concepts to be learned, understood and retained, not as “experiences” or “celebrations” or whatever. your diocesan library may actually have some of these as antiques, but your Catholic school is your best bet. we use Christ Our Life, Loyola Press Chicago, others approved in this diocese are We Believe (Sadlier), and Blessed are We (Silver Burdett, now part of RCL Benziger). Either of these will get you started, try to get hold of a used catechist’s manual, probably from a Catholic school teacher. These publishers all have tests, assessments, lesson plans and other resources on line as well.

Good advice, puzzleannie.

As for what NOT to do –

I also recommend that you **in no way **to a pseudo Eucharistic prayer service with the children.

None of this “agape meal” stuff. Where the kids are all sitting around in a circle… you as one of them… breaking sourdough bread into pieces and passing it around… pouring grape juice into little styrofoam cups and passing those around.

They’ll get EXACTLY the wrong idea of Who the Eucharist even is. It will make the Eucharist appear to be nothing much different than s’mores around a campfire.

I’m sure, too, that they’ll probably get a little “grossed out” if you are able to show them a video… or even just a magazine article… on any of the Miracles of the Eucharist. The good news about their getting grossed out is that they will remember that the consecrated Host and consecrated Wine are no longer what they appear to be.

Talk to them about things that they know that look like something that, in fact, they are not.

Then blend that with the fact that it is Jesus, Himself… who had hung and died on the cross… and raised Himself from the dead… whose flesh we are eating… whose blood we are actually drinking.

Pretty “gross,” huh? Again… have them read… out loud… the part in the Bible where most of Jesus’ followers took off because they would not agree that He spoke the truth about our having to actually eat – MUNCH – his Body. About our having to actually DRINK… SLURP… His Blood. All in order to follow His commandment to do so.

This kind of apparent extremity in describing what … no… Who… the Eucharist truly is will definitely register in their “brain housing group.” They’ll remember it.

There’ll probably be a bit of embarrassed laughter… or giggling. I’d allow that, too. To a point, of course. Just use that response as a launchpoint for active discussion… by them.

Go over the part of the Mass where Father states “This IS My Blood. This IS My Body.”

Why does the priest say that. Who… actually… is the priest? it’s Jesus, Himself.

The priest we see saying those words is our parish priest… acting in “persona Christi.” Acting in the “person of Christ.” It’s Jesus saying those words THROUGH the priest… at every Mass.

If you can get them in touch with THAT fact… you’re getting somewhere.

You might want to cover the story of the disciples on their way to Emmaus.

A priest who gave part of a retreat I was on many years ago wrote a poem about Emmaus. He was not going to publish it… so he gave us a copy of it.

He said that anybody who’d like to use it is most welcome to it. Here it is. I used it in my90-minute sessions on the Eucharist when I was teaching as a lay catechist for teenagers in a program preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation.

I made a copy of it. Cut it into pieces… each piece with just one of the phrases in the poem.

Had the teenagers sit whereever they wanted. Other years, I had them all stand in a circle… each one with only the part of the poem that I had handed to them.

Of course, I had numbered each page sequentially so that the kid who had the #2 paper stood on my left. The kid who had the #3 paper stood on the left of the kid who had the #2 paper. Etc. around the circle.

Each kid had no idea what was any paper other than their own… and the kid’s on their left and their right.

That made it kind of fun. Every year the kids said this was their favorite exercise.

The last line in the poem sits slow… and heavy. I try to make it so that I was the one who had the last 3 lines of the poem. I said them very slowly… with a 5 second pause after the 3rd to the last line… and after the 2nd to the last line. At the end of the very last line… I just stood there, holding the paper… looking down at the floor. And… waited. And … waited.

I don’t know if 2nd graders can wait that long after the last line, though. So… be sure to tell them the instructions… that you have the last lines. And that after you said the last line that you’d be looking down at the floor… silent. And that they are to stand silently… just letting it sink in… maybe praying silently to themselves… until you, yourself, speak again.

I’m drawing lines to show where I’d cut the paper into the separate pieces to hand out.

NOTE: You might want to wait before reading them the Scripture about Emmaus until after you’ve done this exercise.

Or… you may choose to read the Scripture beforehand. You call…


By Fr. Ed Beutner, OFM

(TEACHER says the first 3 lines)

Two disciples, nameless (for now).
Their faces not revealed.
Call them meanwhile, “You” and “I.”

Two disciples, you and I are.
Walking for a while.

Smiles behind us since Friday –

When he died.

Neither you nor I cried …
for years … really cried.

And now
The tears come freely and unwilled.

The news that never ought
To happen has been brought:

“Jesus killed.”

You and I are discussing what it meant.

How we’d manage.

Why we’d trusted in the first place.

How in being lifted up …
He had let us down.

Wondering how somebody strong as he could have this weakness.

He always gave himself away.

We agree, you and I … one to one.

He’d have managed better if he’d had it planned!

Two disciples, you and I.
Still traveling home to Emmaus.

Our hearts and feelings still unraveling.

Find a stranger.

Never mind his name, his face is kind.

Take him in our stride and pour out to him all the soreness of our story.

All the dryness of our wrung out souls

and eyes. He consoles.

He understands our eyes still burning, blinded by our woe.

He starts to go


You and I together say, “Stay with us!”

“At least … sit down and eat!”

Two disciples, you and I

Trying to be polite,

Give him bread.

He breaks.

And gives it back.

He gives himself away.

And sight he gives to burning eyes. And then leaves us.

So it seems.

Not alone,

But leaves us.

(TEACHER says the last 3 lines)

With a hundred …
Thousand …


I dug up my lesson plan for Eucharist that I gave to the 15 through 17 year olds for Confirmation class. If you can use it, you’re more than welcome to it.

Private message me and I’ll e-mail it to you.

Here, I’m just trying to see if it’ll copy-paste accurately.

Fr. Ed Beutner, OFM

Script for Instructions

Have you ever noticed that different people tell the same story in a different way from each other? And sometimes, one person knows part of a story. And another person knows another part of a story. And sometimes different people each have a different experience with the same thing that happened.

Here’s the Emmaus story as told by a Franciscan priest, Fr. Ed Beutner. It’s a poem called “Two Disciples.” And now, you’ll be telling this story too.

I’m going to go around the circle and hand each of you a part of the poem. There are numbers on each piece of it (just so that it gets handed out and read in the right order).

Each of you will read what’s on your paper. And you’ll do it at just the right time and in the right sequence, because you’ll follow the person on your right. It’s like being at a ball game and doing “the wave.”


When the person on your right finishes reading their sheet, you read your sheet, and then stop, turn and look at the person on your left.

They will have the part of the poem that follows the piece that you will have just read.

That will be their signal their signal to read their sheet, and then stop, turn and look to the person on their left.

Depending on how many of us there are – and how many sheets there are – some people may get to read more than one sheet.

IMPORTANT: If you have more than one sheet, read JUST THE SHEET WITH THE LOWEST NUMBER ON IT. Then stop. You’ll read the next sheet when it gets to be your turn again.

We’ll continue, each reading one piece at a time, until the last sheet is read. I’m going to save the last one for me, so that nobody gets lost. Any questions?

Duration (minutes) Materials Action Method
5 Opening Welcome and introductory comments.
Definition of sacrament.

An ecumenical definition of “CATHOLIC” AND “SACRAMENT”

One of my favorite definitions of the word “sacrament” I learned from Richard McBrian, author of books describing the Catholic faith. He explains that the Greek Orthodox, the Episcopal, and the Roman Catholic all have our identify as “catholic” because of how we see and experience sacrament as an:

“Encounter of the infinite through the finite.”

Catholic awareness of our identity is expressed as the Emmaus experience

“Emmaus is the clue to the deepest level of Catholic identity. The world becomes the Sacrament of the presence of God. Broken, the world is charged with God’s presence. His Spirit is in international relief, parties in parks, and around the water cooler in the workplace.”

– Fr. Joyce, Diocesan Council in Portland, OR (1994).

We pass on our traditions by metaphors, stories, and celebrations. (The parable of the Forgiving Father has all three of these.)

Here’s the first of the 2-page Catechist notes. I already just now posted the second of the 2-page Catechist notes.

Note that I first did this lesson in 1985… something like 24 years ago. Eeek!! :eek: And I still have it! :o

I know that this is WAY more than you would need to do with 2nd graders. Even if you had the time, I wouldn’t do this much material with them. If any of it, I’d recommend that you do the Emmaus exercise that I posted just before this post of mine.

This… the first page of the 2 Catechist notes… is in the form of a table on a Microsoft Word document. If you like, I’ll be more than happy to e-mail them both to you for your convenience. I’m the person who with the grace of the Holy Spirit created this lesson plan. So… I can freely give to everybody complete right to use it.

On the road to Emmaus

Format of Microsoft Word table --

# of minutes	Materials	Purpose	Method

TOPIC – Sacrament

5 minutes

Materials – Written definition of Sacrament

Purpose – Introduction

Method – Present (read) definition of “sacrament.”
varies -

TOPIC – experiential exercise - personal journal writing on the meaning of the word “sacrament”

10 to 20 minutes

Materials – Paper, pens

Purpose – Personal response to the sacrament

Method – Write in journal about one of these:

• Scripture (in general)

• My own story

• Sacramental symbols experience (save a spot in your journal for writing about this experience… which we will be doing later in this lesson today)

**• Option: If it’s not read out as a group during this session: “Two Disciples,” by Ed Buetner, OFM. **

TOPIC – experiential exercise on “sacramental symbols”

15 minutes – this one is from one of the instructors I had when I was taking extra formation to become a Master Catechist. I have all this stuff about the Symbols section of this lesson in detail around here somewhere. If you like, just PM me from this discussion site and let me know your physical address so that I can mail them to you via U.S. mail. I mean which physical symbols I used… how to lay it out in tables around the room for the kids to visit silently while music is playing… what’s on the Meditation Scripts – the cards at each table that tell about that symbol… and what that symbol is used for other than when it’s used during the related Sacrament… etc.

Materials – actual physical symbols (water, oil, etc.)

(see list of materials to gather)

• Meditation scripts
• Buffet table
• Soft instrumental music
• Music player

Purpose – Individual encounters with sacramental symbols

Method –

BEFORE: set up symbol table.

DURING: Except for soft music playing, this is done all in silence for meditative effect. Walk in a line past a long table on which are sacramental symbols. As they walk slowly past each symbol, each person does a brief activity with the symbol and reads a short meditation. When each person reaches the end of the line, they return to their seat and sit until a few minutes after the last person has returned to their seat.

TOPIC – experiential exercise on the Scripture… the story of Emmaus


10 minutes

Materials – printed copy of “Two Disciples,” by Fr. Ed Beutner, OFM

(see script for instructions)

Purpose – Group proclamation of the good news

Method –

BEFORE: Make 2 copies of the poem. Cut one copy into several sections so that a one or a few lines can be read from each piece. Number each piece in the sequence in which it appears in the poem. Stack them in numerical sequence so that #1 is on top and the last piece is on the bottom.

DURING: Gather everyone into a circle, facing inside. Tell them the instructions. While you are standing in the middle of the circle, pass out each piece of the poem in sequence. Start with handing piece #1 to one person. Then hand #2 to the person on their left (your right). Give #3 to the person on #2’s left, etc. Continue until you have one piece remaining (the final piece). Keep the final piece for yourself to read at the end.

The person with #1 starts reading, #2 reads the section that they have, #3 the same, etc. until the end of the poem is reached. You read the last piece.**

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