1st Communion Celebrations at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Parents of our Grade 3 students,Greetings to you and your families. I hope you have been well during this difficult time. I’m sure it has been a time of much upheaval for you in many ways. We have certainly experienced this at the parish as well.

As you know, last year’s Grade 2s did not get to celebrate their First Reconciliation or First Communion (with the exception of those students from Our Lady of Peace school who did get to make their First Reconciliation).
Our Diocese has now provided guidelines for the celebration of these Sacraments in the upcoming school year, so I would like to share with you our plan for moving forward.

DATES
After speaking with our principals, we have agreed on the following dates for the rescheduling of these Sacramental celebrations:

Our Lady of Peace
First Communion: Sunday, September 13 at 4:00pm

St. Clare of Assisi
First Reconciliation: Thursday, September 17 at 6:30pm
First Communion: Sunday, September 20 at 4:00pm

St. Francis Xavier – will be divided into 2 groups due to having more students than the church can accommodate in one sitting
Group 1 First Reconciliation: Thursday, September 24 at 6:30pm
Group 1 First Communion: Sunday, September 27 at 4:00pm
Group 2 First Reconciliation: Thursday, October 1 at 6:30pm (with St. Martin of Tours)
Group 2 First Communion: Sunday, October 4 (with St. Martin of Tours)

St. Martin of Tours
First Reconciliation: Thursday, October 1 at 6:30pm (with St. Francis Xavier Group 2)
First Communion: Sunday, October 4 at 4:00pm (with St. Francis Xavier Group 2)

St. Agnes
First Reconciliation: Thursday, October 15 at 6:30pm
First Communion: Sunday, October 18 at 4:00pm

HOW ARE THINGS WORKING AT THE CHURCH RIGHT NOW?
Currently, for each gathering in the church, we can accommodate 30% of the full seating capacity. What this translates to for the celebration of each of the Sacraments is that each student will get a pew for themselves and their family, and may bring a maximum of 4 family members with them, for a total of 5 people/family. This must be strictly adhered to so that we stay within the 30% capacity requirement.
Hand sanitizer has been provided at the entrances and must be used before entering the church.
Masks must also be worn upon entrance to the church and must be kept on for the entire celebration until you have returned to your vehicle.
Seating in the church has been arranged so that the 2m of social distance is maintained between those from difference households.

SPECIFICS FOR FIRST RECONCILIATION
– Two stations will be set up in the sanctuary, with chairs for our priests.
– Parents can bring their child forward to introduce them to one of the priests, and then stand to the side of the sanctuary while the child makes their First Reconciliation.
– The children will stand (a spot will be marked on the floor) 2m from the priest hearing their confession and have their conversation with him from there.
– After receiving absolution, each child can meet up with their parents again and return to their pew to say the prayers of penance given to them by the priest. After finishing their penance, that family is free to head home.
– The evening will start with a brief liturgy. In normal circumstances the students would sing a couple of songs and lead the petition prayers, but to enhance safety, the singing will be eliminated and readings will be done by one adult.

SPECIFICS FOR FIRST COMMUNION
“Children’s Participation in the Mass:
Many of the elements of first Communion celebrations such as multiple children reading, multiple children presenting the gifts, and children singing a prepared hymn will not be possible. The congregation will need to wear masks, there will be only one Lector (an adult) who will proclaim all the readings including the petitions, and music ministry will be led by an instrumentalist and Cantor.

Booklets/Certificates:
No booklets or worship aids can be used. If certificates are printed, they may be distributed by mail.

Marking the Occasion:
A first Communion photo is often a treasured memento. Family photos may be taken outside the church (weather permitting) or at home. These may be shared digitally with the school and/or parish so that they may be displayed, with parents’ permission, on websites or in a special PowerPoint, for example.”

PREPARATION
The parish will make several resources available to you to use at home in preparation for both Sacraments. These will most likely consist of a couple of short online videos to watch for each Sacrament, to help your child and your family to prepare. These will be sent to you by email in the next week or so.

I understand that these modified celebrations will likely result in some disappointment as there are many things that typically are part of them that are just not possible to include under the current circumstances. However, I encourage you to take comfort and joy in the fact that we can now celebrate these beautiful Sacraments with our children. Our parish and school teams are here to support you as we move forward, and will continue to communicate with you by email with future updates, reminders, and resources.
If you require any assistance or have questions, please contact our parish youth minister, Wes Moga, at:
905-662-8593 ext. 6
soundofmusic1986@gmail.com

You can also contact me at:
fr.mariuszdurbajlo@gmail.com or call 905 662 8593 ext. 4 
Be assured of my prayers for you and your family as we journey together towards these most joyful celebrations.

God bless you!
Fr. Mariusz

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