First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion


In a recent communication from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, we were given the required Diocesan policies for the sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. St. Gerard’s is in compliance with these general principles and policies that have been mandated. Participation in the sacraments is a shared responsibility of parents, catechists, and the church itself, which is the assembly of believers united in Christ. The following is a general overview of how this process occurs within our parish. In the event that your young person has not completed preparation and/or received a particular sacrament, and you are concerned, you should contact the Coordinator of Religious Education. 

FIRST RECONCILIATION and FIRST HOLY COMMUNION – Children preparing for these sacraments should be concurrently enrolled in the Christian Formation classes in the parish or at Roanoke Catholic School. Preparation for sacraments is offered in addition to the above-mentioned faith formation. Please see Christian Formation calendar for specific dates. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church “Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time.” (CCC 1457) Readiness for children to begin preparation for these sacraments is determined in part by:

(For Reconciliation)

  • Has been baptized
  • Has reached the age of reason (7 years old)
  • Can distinguish between right and wrong
  • Can distinguish between mistakes and accidents
  • Is able to express sorrow for sin
  • Has the ability to forgive others
  • Prays at home and at Mass
  • Is able to relate to Jesus as one who forgives

(For First Holy Communion)

  • Has been baptized
  • Has reached the age of reason (7 years old)
  • Is interested in receiving the sacrament
  • Feels like they belong to the Catholic community
  • Participates in Sunday Mass
  • Prays at home and at Mass
  • Has the ability to relate to Jesus as one who loves
  • Has prepared for and received the Sacrament of Reconciliation

How to Help Your Child Prepare for His First Communion:

1. Take Your Children to Mass each weekend. It’s the most elementary way to teach your child that this Sacrament means a lot and is important. Show your faith with examples.

  • There are 168 hours a week, and the Lord only asks for 1 hour of it for Mass. This leaves you with 167 hours to do other things.

2. Pray with your children every night to prepare your Hearts to receive Jesus. Practice the necessary prayers – Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory, Nicen Creed, Apostles’ Creed, Act of Contrition.

3. Encourage your child to prepare his or her gift for Jesus. An act of kindness, an act of obedience, and an act of love at home and at school.

4. Fast as a family 1 hour before receiving the Body of Christ. This gives us awareness of who we are going to receive.

5. Model reverence for the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. It’s becoming just as important as the first celebration. Arrive at the Church before Mass begins (before the priest enters) and do not leave Mass until it is completely finished (after the Priest of the Church leaves).

For more information, please contact the Coordinator of Religious Education.