Criteria for the Sacraments: The Initiation of Children

First Communion

My Dear Friends in Christ,

The Criteria for the Sacraments of Initiation of Children in the Diocese of St. Catharines is the result of a great deal of preparation and consultation. I sincerely thank all of those who  have been involved in creating this fine document. In particular I thank the Ad Hoc Committee on Sacramental Criteria, the members of the Council of Priests, and the Religious Education Office of our diocese. I also wish to acknowledge the invaluable input of priests, deacons and those involved in catechesis and Catholic education in our diocese.
These criteria are provided to assist pastors and all of those involved in helping our youth and their families prepare for the Sacraments of Initiation. It will also help to bring a more unified approach to sacramental preparation across the diocese.
Preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation is indeed a graced period for the students  involved, their parish, school and family. It should be a time of joyful anticipation as we prepare to celebrate these unique encounters with God who is love. Sacramental preparation provides a wonderful opportunity to reach out and welcome those who come to encounter Christ. Even though their reasons may vary, they are coming to Christ who says,
“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” (Matthew 7:7)
Asking for a sacrament is the first step in a process that should deepen and strengthen  faith. This is why preparation is so important. It is a journey that should, like the sacraments themselves, help to draw us into the mystery of God and the Church. Fundamental to this process is coming to know and love Our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the heart of discipleship and should be the focus of all sacramental preparation.
It is my hope and prayer that the Criteria for the Sacraments of Initiation of Children will assist all of us who are privileged to be involved with sacramental preparation. May it help many come to know, love, and serve our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. Let us continue to fan the flames of faith so that we will set the Diocese of St. Catharines on fire with God’s love!
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Gerard Bergie, D.D.
Bishop of St. Catharines

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