Just Curious: What's the norm for 1st Communion for your Diocese/Parish?


The document you just quoted does not exclude other days, even if Sunday is preferred. The Church often makes other provisions in the liturgy for pastoral reasons (for example the Chrism Mass being done on Tuesday rather than Holy Thursday, as is the case in my Archdiocese). In a similar way, you have to take into account the number of first communicants where there is a large number due to a school, + guests + regular faithful and you have a situation where it would detract from worship.

My parish has the children make their First Communion at one of four Masses spread out over a weekend. There is one Mass on Saturday morning for a certain number of the children. The rest make their First Communion at the Saturday anticipatory Mass or at one of the regular Sunday Masses.

While it’s not guaranteed that all families get their choice, they at least have some opportunity to pick between a dedicated First Communion Mass and a Sunday Mass.

I’d be curious to know how many of the families whose children receive at the Saturday morning Mass bother to return for the Sunday Mass.

Well, my parish makes it a pretty big deal, even when the group is small (as is the case w/ my twins coming up here very shortly).

First Communion is always celebrated at the 12:30pm Mass (one of the regular times) on the first Sunday in May. The group sits together as a group.

Monday after, the families are invited to come to the morning daily Mass, and this time the children sit with their families. There’s a breakfast put on by the parish after that Mass.

Then, the next Sunday (Mother’s Day), the children from the 1st Communion class are to wear their clothes from 1st Communion again and participate in the May crowning.

I think our parish traditions concerning the Monday after and the Sunday after are meant to help underscore that after the first time, you’re supposed to come back (often).

Our parish usually has the 1st Communion (and Confirmation) Mass on a special day. This year is I believe a Thursday. The reasons being that our parish has quite a few kids every year and our church building is far to small to fit all the kids and their parents and any guests. So instead of doing a Sunday Mass in a gymnasium, we do a weekday Mass at a neighboring parish with a much larger church.

Also, we teach that they MUST receive on the tongue for First Communion, they are taught how to properly receive in the hand if they should decide to receive in that manner after First Communion. But for first, they must receive on the tongue.

I don’t know that anyone is keeping track…

But I’d guess that a significant number of those who make their FC on *Sunday *don’t show up the following Sunday. It’s not just a two-days-in-a-row-is-too-many mindset. It’s a Mass-is-for-special-occasions-and-most-weeks-aren’t-special-enough-for-our-family mindset. At least those families have done better than the hatched/matched/dispatched only “Catholics”.

A related question: What do most parishes do about the first communicants’ uncatechized parents?

How many parishes require that parents attend a few sessions prior to their child receiving first Eucharist and first Reconciliation? What is done during these sessions? Any effective catechesis? Any expectations placed on the parents at all concerning their practicing the faith? Are the parents encouraged to take advantage of Reconciliation the same time the children are going to confession?

In our parish and in many in our diocese the process used for preparation for First Communion involves both the parents and the children at all sessions with an expectation of work at home in between sessions. For the well catechized parent it’s a refresher course, for the uncatechized or poorly catechized parents it’s an eye opening experience. We have seen a certain percentage return to the Church as a result. Not all, by a long shot, but enough to give us hope that we are headed in the right direction.

I know that when I received my 1st communion on that Saturday, later that day my family and I went to 5:30 Saturday evening Mass later in the day for Sunday Mass liturgy.

Sunday before Mass I’ll tell niece #2 (who just received on the 19th) that she may not be able to receive on the tongue this Sunday (because for some reason the tongue receiving is not generally done @ this parish in the other diocese.)

responding to OP there are norms in the diocese for preparation, which is 2 years, following at least one year of basic formation. First penance in the 2nd year, usually in Lent, First Communion in the Third year. 3 parent meetings, 6 hours total, for each sacrament celebrated, with topics covered as prescribed by the Diocese. How each parish implements this and actually celebrates sacraments has every variation you can think of, including the local cultural practice of padrinos for 1st communion. Controlling variables seem to be size of class and size of church. Our pastor has specific reasons, well thought out, for first communion, with the child’s family, in the context of regular Sunday Masses, since the whole point is brining the child into the faith community through full participation in Eucharist, in the parish celebration. There is also the point that not every child in a class of 30 or so is ready at the same time, and that the parents are the best judgest of the child’s readiness.

if the pastor changes his mind, we build a bigger church, more parents complain or we get a new pastor, that could change overnight.

every DRE I know well enough, and I know about half of them well enough, makes sure children are instructed how to properly receive either way, and that they have the right to choose. that is not to say all pastors are as open minded.

the more parents are part of the process, through basic formation, sacramental preparation, celebration of the sacraments, and ongoing catechesis, the greater the likelihood they and other family members will respond to the graces poured out not only on the candidates, but their families, at this time. This extends to healing marriages, return to sacraments, completion of Christian initiation and other powerful effects. ooooh I love my job.

I recieved my first communion in the living room of my childhood home. The year was 1976 a bunch of feminists from my parish had just gotten back from a convention in detriot named call to action. They took over our parish and intituted the FADs of change. Their got into the head of the priest and DRE and before we knew it children were told that they wer going to have a special little home Masses where we could celebrate togetherness with our own families. This “fad” lasted a few years but those same 5 women are still alive and kicking. The parish has been utterly destroyed and just a shell of its glory days. Those 5 women are all grey haired old ladies now…But they are still bitter they cannot be the pope. Moral of the story? count your blessings your kids could have ended up getting their first communion the way I did…I still harbor some empty feelings about the whole experience myself. Such a shame.

In the group with which our daughter prepared (in 1986), she was the only one that I’m aware of who received First Communion that way and It was strictly at the pastor’s instigation. Today I’d say ‘no’ to the offer but back then, as a simple PIP, I didn’t know any better and was honoured that he’d make the offer.

I still think the kids should be sitting with their families and receiving as individuals rather than as a class. I also think that they should receive when they are ready as determined in an interview with the pastor.

How many First Communion Masses have you attended?/ I have attended enough to know that the focus most of the time is on the kids. Oh how cute the little girl is who did the first reading (never mind what that reading was or if the kids even understand what they just read). Some parishes have kids come in the sanctuary for the EP (oh it is so cute and the children really feel they are participating…like they are not participating from the pews?) Professional photographers snap pictures of the kids at the moment they receive (oh how cute!). Moms fussing with the girls veils. Guests chatting away until the moment their darling goes up to receive. The noise level in the church the second the priest walks off the altar (hey it’s over now, why not begin the party). No one genuflecting as they pass the tabernacle. Kids running all around the sanctuary or standing in it for pictures (isn’t it cute, lets let little Tommy sit in the presiders chair for a photo op) Then there is always the fact that few return the very next day, Sunday, to fulfill their obligation to attend Mass.

At least at a Sunday Mass, without the focus on the kids, there is a sense that something sacred is happening.

Wow, where does this happen? The Mass I attended last Sunday afternoon was very Reverent. In fact, I thought it was quite appropriate that Communion time started at the Hour of Mercy (around 3:00 PM or so). The special class photo didn’t take place until Mass was over. There was a beautiful meditation prayer/song sung by the 61 children following Communion.

Unfortunately, there are still a few parishes out there that do not have the Tabernacle right behind the altar where it belongs, so some children are not used to genuflecting (like my eldest niece who I had to tell to Genuflect.) Tomorrow I have another 1st communion, and unfortunately, at this parish, the Tabernacle is in a separate room. I always genuflect towards the Altar out of habit, even though the Tabernacle is not in the Front as it should be.

The parallel with weddings is easy to see, whether or not First Holy Communion happens on at a regular Sunday Mass or not. It is too easy for the “event” to get out of hand as to externals or, conversely, for the importance of this event on the rest of one’s life to be treated with an inappropriate nonchalance. As with weddings, it is the preparation and the later lifelong commitment outside the “event” that makes all the difference. (Witnessing FHCs, I see another weird parallel with weddings: the number of families that dress the child to the nines, while nearly everyone not rating a corsage shows up in clothes more suitable for sports, manual labor, or shopping for a date who isn’t interested in a chaste evening. What gives with that?)

I think it is edifying for both parishioners and first communicants for FHC to take place at a regular Sunday Mass, except when plain logistics (the number of children and the physical size of the church) make it clear that edification is going to be lost due to overcrowding. Why? Because Holy Communion is all about the Body of Christ. After all, every Mass is not only sacrifice, but also the wedding feast of the Lamb, with His Bride, the Church. There are informal weddings and formal ones, but every wedding calls for a solemnity in both interior attitude and externals used that shows reverence to what is taking place.

As for having the celebration outside of regular Sunday Masses, it must be kept in mind, too, that except when there is true necessity, a priest may only celebrate Mass so many times in a single day. There are some very big parishes with only one priest, and sometimes a priest advanced in years. There are some very big parishes that have also essentially outgrown their church. Accomodations have to be made, one way or the other. Adding another Sunday Mass isn’t always a suitable alternative.

The homilies over the years at our parish have been very good, though: the children, parents, and all present have been reminded every year about a) the awesome reality of the True Presence and b) the lifelong and total commitment that faith requires, a thing that both parents and children are encouraged to hold each other to as a family. Again…a good thing for the whole parish to get to share in, when it is possible.

dressing the child to the nines…I saw a girl with what I thought was an overly elaborate Floral wreath on her head before I went into the Church for my nephew’s 1st Communion Mass yesterday morning.

They only had two priests to give communion (usually they don’t have a second Priest – I know this from being there before for Mass that wasn’t for 1st Communion) and the Celebrant only wanted the children & their parents receiving from the Priests. Everyone else was asked to receive from the EMHCs…

Please dont insult me. My wife has 17 nieces/nephews + 2 children of my own so I have attended quite a few. And by the way my pastor does not allow professional photographers except for ONE that is provided by the Church.

As for not returning on Sunday, please, what do you want us to do, drag people out of their homes??? It is like communion, more than half the people there shouldnt receive it, but what’s an EMHC supposed to do, ask every person if they are in a state of grace before giving the host??? If they miss the next day chances are they will miss the NEXT SUNDAY, so in the end it’s the same thing for someone who doesn’t regularly attend Mass.

Our pastor goes so far as to tell the first communicants that they have his personal permission and encouragement to roust their parents out of bed on Sunday mornings, if necessary, so they can receive the Eucharist every Sunday for the rest of their lives.

We teach our kids preparing for Eucharist that they may receive on the tongue any time they want to. We do warn them that some EMsHC are not used to it, and might take a second to collect themselves, but that if it is necessary to stand there with their mouths open, they shouldn’t be embarrassed or worry about it, just give the person a minute and make sure their mouths are far enough open for the Blessed Sacrament to be given safely. We tell them how to receive in the hand, too. We also tell them that there are times and places when the Eucharist is not given in the hand, so they should know how to receive on the tongue even if that isn’t their preferred method.

Still, it is not a bad idea to teach a child to be charitable when the matter in question does not violate morals, and to give them a heads-up about how to handle a problem, when that problem is likely to arise.

You just made my point. Big deal is made of First Communion and they don’t come back. So why go through all that hoop-la? It becomes a rite of passage instead of a celebration of a sacrament.

It is a rite of passage, whether or not hoopla is involved. Ingratitude does not make First Holy Communion into a non-event.

Again, like weddings: whether it is just two people with a priest and witnesses or everybody from here to Hollywood in attendance, it is the start of a marriage, and that is a big deal. It isn’t the white dresses and the limos that have put appreciation and commitment to either marriage or the Eucharist in the state they are in today, though. These are grave problems that the white dresses and fancy cakes neither address nor aggravate, one way or another. Excepting where overindulgence in externals venture into pride, self-indulgence, and extravagance of scandalous proportion, the externals chosen or not chosen to mark such a momentous occasion are entirely besides the point. At least I don’t think so.

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