Parents are the first and best teachers of their children in the ways of the faith, and we depend on their life of faith as the primary motivator of the children.
In accord with the policies of the Diocese of Phoenix:
Children who are 7 or older and not yet Baptized are to be Baptized, Confirmed and celebrate their First Communion in the same ceremony. Those who were Baptized in another Christian Denomination will be Confirmed and celebrate their First Communion in the same ceremony. (Contact Cathy Rogers for information on the RCIA program adapted for children.)
Children who are Baptized are to prepare for and celebrate their First Reconciliation in the 2nd grade.
Children who are Baptized and have celebrated Reconciliation are to prepare for and celebrate Confirmation and First Communion in the same ceremony in 3rd grade.
Children who are Baptized and have had prior faith formation, but are older than the grade levels stated above, should prepare for and celebrate First Reconciliation in one year, and then prepare for and celebrate Confirmation and First Communion the subsequent year.
Children who are Baptized, and who celebrate Reconciliation and Eucharist, but who have not yet been Confirmed, attend the Sunday Sacrament Preparation sessions for those to be Confirmed. This is a multi-age group that may be divided by age-levels.
Diocesan policy requires one year of faith formation prior to beginning preparation for First Reconciliation, and two years prior to First Communion or Confirmation. Therefore, children should be enrolled in one of the formation options (GIFT, Junior High Alive, or Life Teen) in addition to participating in Sacramental preparation. The schedule of Sacramental Preparation sessions is included on the Children’s Formation Calendar.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Reception of all the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion) does not mean the child has completed religious formation. These sacraments are referred to as “Initiation” because they are the beginning of the formation in the Catholic faith. It is important to continue their faith formation through their years of elementary, jr. high, and high school, and well into adulthood.
The Church views parents as having both the privilege and the obligation of forming their children in faith. This is made clear when the child was presented to the Church for Baptism. At that time you were reminded that you have the responsibility of "raising them in the practice of the faith" (from the Rite of Baptism). Part of that privilege and obligation is assuring the child is prepared for the reception of sacraments.
At St. Gabriel the Archangel we provide preparation sessions that begin with an opening ritual, then dismiss to sessions based on the sacrament(s) they are preparing to celebrate. Preparation also relies upon the parents to participate by assisting their child at home—reading a story, helping with worksheets, praying with their children, and attending Mass.