Sacraments

Baptism

Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.” (Catholic Catechism)

If you want to have a child baptised, please speak to the Parish Priest who will explain what has to take place in terms of preparation for the sacrament, choosing the Godparent(s) – see note on Sponsors below, arranging a date, choosing readings and prayers etc.

If you are an adult who has not been baptised and are thinking about becoming a Catholic, then there is a programme called the Rite of the Christian initiation for adults or RCIA which is run in the parish usually starting each autumn. In the first instance, please come along and join us for Mass and meet us and, if you like what you see, speak to the Parish Priest to discuss your interest further.

The requirements in the Church’s Canon Law for Godparents/Sponsors are:

  • Insofar as possible, a person to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who assists an adult in Christian initiation or together with the parents presents an infant for baptism. A sponsor also helps the baptized person to lead a Christian life in keeping with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations inherent in it.
  • There is to be only one male sponsor or one female sponsor or one of each.
  • To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:
    • Be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;
    • Have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;
    • Be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on;
    • Not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;
    • Not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.
  • A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community is not to participate except together with a Catholic sponsor and then only as a witness of the baptism

Penance and reconciliation or Confession

Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion. (Catholic Catechism)

A programme is run in the parish each year to prepare young people for the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion. For more information, please look at the information below about First Holy Communion, ‘The Eucharist’.

Baptised adults who have not received the sacrament and wish to do so should speak to the Parish Priest.

Normal times for Penance/Reconciliation/Confession in the parish are 9:30am to 10:00am and 6pm to 6:20pm on Saturday but check the Newsletter or website first.

The Eucharist or Holy Communion

The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord’s own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist. “At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'” (Catholic Catechism)

First Holy Communion for children

Pope Francis calls Holy Communion – also known as the Eucharist – the “Sacrament of Love”. It is the greatest gift that Jesus gave to us: the gift of Himself. As he said in 2014, “in this Eucharist, we feel this belonging to the Church, to the People of God, to the Body of God, to Jesus Christ.”

The Eucharist is a gift that takes a whole lifetime to open; it is a gift that requires a response from us. That is why it is so special and why we must take such care that our children are well-prepared to receive Holy Communion for the first time.

At your child’s Baptism you, their parents, were told that you “would be the first and best teachers of your children in the way of faith”. Your involvement in the preparation of your child for First Holy Communion is paramount. The parish ‘helps’, but does not replace your part in the process of leading your child in the development of their faith, through the development and example of your own.

The best preparation for your child to make their First Holy Communion is taking them to Mass regularly – whether in-person, or participating in our live-stream Mass – and helping your child understand that the Mass, and the Eucharist, is all about how “in this sacrament, the Lord becomes food for the soul under the appearance of bread and wine.” (Pope Saint John Paul II, Letter to children, 1994)

As a parish community, we work to support you in preparing your child to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion for the first time, through classes, prayer sponsorship, and the weekly Family Room activities that we share on our parish website.

For families already participating in the 2019-20 First Holy Communion programme:
As communicated in September 2020, we are taking the following approach for all children who commenced the First Holy Communion programme in December 2019:

    • Parents are working with their children to complete the “I Belong” book
    • On completion, parents are returning the book to the parish presbytery
    • The First Holy Communion team is collecting books and organising Zoom conversations with each child and their parent(s)

Individual celebrations of First Holy Communion are being organised for each child when parents and catechists reach a mutual agreement that the child is ready to receive the Sacrament. Children will make their First Holy Communion as part of Mass – either at the Sunday Masses or a dedicated Mass – subject to their readiness and the latest guidelines from the government and the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.

If your child is already enrolled in the 2019-20 programme, and you have questions, please contact the First Holy Communion team by email or phone (Lizzie, 0787 286 7203) .

For families interested in their children making First Holy Communion in 2021:
Due to restrictions associated with COVID-19, St. Peter-in-Chains is not running a formal program for First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion in 2021. Instead, we are inviting children and their parents to complete a series of activities together as a family, and to join a number of Zoom calls to discuss and reflect on their family journey in preparation for children receiving both Sacraments.

When a mutual decision is reached by parents and catechists that a child is ready to receive each of the Sacraments, the catechist team will make arrangements with each family, in accordance with the current guidelines from the UK Government and the England & Wales Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

Please complete this form to register your child who should be in Year 3 (aged 7/8) at school or above. The closing date for applications is Sunday the 14th of March with the introductory meeting on Tuesday 16th of March at 7:00pm via Zoom. If you have any questions, please send an email to the First Holy Communion team.

First Holy Communion for Adults:
Baptised adults who have not received the sacrament and wish to do so should speak to the Parish Priest.

Confirmation

Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the “sacraments of Christian initiation,” whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace.88 For “by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.” (Catholic Catechism)

A programme is run in the parish each year to prepare young people for the sacrament of Confirmation. The programme is open to young people who worship regularly at St. Peter’s. Details of the programme, when and how to apply are published in the Newsletter during the autumn term.

Baptised adults who have not received the sacrament and wish to do so should speak to the Parish Priest.

Marriage

The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament. (Catholic Catechism)

Whether you wish to be married here at St Peter’s or elsewhere, it is necessary to give 6 months notice to allow the necessary preparation and administration to be completed.

If you want to be married here or would like the Parish Priest to celebrate your marriage elsewhere then contact him to find out what has to take place in terms of the paperwork required, sacramental preparation, choosing readings and prayers, booking an organist, payments etc.

If you are being married in another parish or even another country, you will have to provide the priest who is to marry you with certain documents so, again, contact the priest here for further information.

Annointing of the sick

By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. and indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.

The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is given to those who are seriously ill by anointing them on the forehead and hands with duly blessed oil – pressed from olives or from other plants – saying, only once: “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.” (Catholic Catechism)

Please contact the Parish Office or the Parish Priest if you or someone you know is in need of this sacrament.

Rite of the Christian Initiation of Adults or RCIA

There was a time when a person wishing to become a Catholic was instructed by a priest. When the candidate was well prepared, he or she was eventually received into the Church. It was a rather low-key event. The Vatican Council changed this rather private practice by revising the ancient Rite of the Christian Initiation of Adults.

The striking difference is that this is now very much a community-based programme, designed to meet the needs of candidates’ own personal journey in faith. It is marked by stages and a number of rites and liturgies which mark these steps. Conversion through faith-sharing is the primary goal rather than transmission of information and doctrine.

A group of inquirers meets on a weekly basis. They meet with catechists and sponsors to pray and reflect on the teaching of the Church and on the Scripture. The inquirers may be from other religious traditions or they may not yet be baptised. Their aim is to respond to a call to seek full communion with the Church.

At St Peter’s the programme starts each Autumn, runs until the candidates are received at the Easter Vigil and then continues for a few weeks after.

If you fall into one of the categories below and are interested in learning more or taking your interest further, in the first instance, speak to the Parish Priest.

  • Un-baptised and thinking about becoming a Catholic.
  • A baptised Catholic who has not received the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion.
  • A member of another Christian Church wishing to join the Catholic Church.