“When people receive the sacraments, they encounter the Spirit of Jesus in a way that changes their spirit and their body.” Pope Benedict XVI
As Pope Benedict explains in the above quote, the seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church develop our inner selves and souls and they help us on our journey to heaven. It is in these special times that we share in Christ’s life, spirit, love, forgiveness and healing.
At Christ the King School, we passionately teach the children that the purpose of a sacrament is for us to be changed through these encounters with God and to bear fruit - they need to have a lasting impression on our lives. The children are constantly reminded of these sacraments in the ‘Journey of Faith’ display in school, featuring their artwork and prayers.
During their time at Christ the King School, Catholic children receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation, the Eucharist and Confirmation.
In addition to receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time in Year 3, the KS2 pupils of Christ the King are then given the opportunity to receive God’s merciful forgiveness during the seasons of Advent and Lent each year.
Many children also witness the Sacrament of Matrimony first-hand as our talented school choir are often asked to sing at the weddings of staff members and do so willingly (often in their school holidays).
Although children’s experiences during their whole time at Christ the King form part of their journey of faith, preparation to receive these Sacraments for the Year 3 and Year 6 children formally begins in the Autumn term.
We hold parent meetings, led by Fr. Eamonn, Mrs Breslin and Mrs Potter to explain the context of the Sacraments from the outset and make this information available for parents on the 'Year Group' pages of our website.
During the Season of Advent in the Autumn Term of Year 3, Catholic children receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
In preparation for this Sacrament, the children spend time in their R.E. lessons, prayer services and at home reflecting on how their good and bad choices have consequences and as such impact on other people as well as themselves and their relationship with God.
Through studying Bible stories such as Zacchaeus the tax collector and parables like the Prodigal Son, the children learn about Jesus’ teachings on repentance and forgiveness and strive to live these out in their daily lives. The children also learn the Act of Sorrow and pray this regularly throughout the year.
Once the children in Year 3 have made the Sacrament of Reconciliation, they look forward to receiving Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time in May.
Many of the units taught from the R.E. Scheme ‘Learning and Growing as People of God’ in Year 3 focus on developing children’s understanding of the elements and importance of Mass. In addition to all of the learning that takes place during class, the children’s lives are enriched by an annual Retreat Day led by Dan Callow and Emily Jordan of One Life Music, helping them to be fully prepared to receive Jesus into their hearts.
We encourage families to attend Sunday Mass each week and to pray at home as a family. Ahead of the First Holy Communion Mass, parents write a prayer for their child and these are offered up to God during the celebration of the Sacrament.
Towards the end of their time at Christ the King, the Year 6 children receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Again, the units from the R.E. strategy taught in Year 6 focus heavily on the links between Baptism and Confirmation as well as how we can be followers of Christ today and active members of the Church community.
To supplement these lessons, children voluntarily attend a weekly ‘Confirmation Club’ after school. Sessions are led by various members of staff from all year groups as well as staff and pupils from Cardinal Wiseman School, seminarians from Oscott College and religious people such as The Sisters of Charity.
Children also create a project or presentation about the saint’s name that they have chosen to adopt at Confirmation to share their thoughts as to why this person inspires them and how they used the gifts of the Holy Spirit to bear fruits.
The role of the Church and Parish
We constantly remind all families attending Christ the King that going to Mass should be at the heart of their Sunday. We actively encourage our children to visit Christ the King church regularly and assist in the Mass through serving, singing and praying.
Our school-parish Mass in January is a Mass of Commitment for all of the Year 3 and 6 pupils preparing to receive a Sacrament. Following the homily, the children, their parents, staff and the parish all make promises to help and support the children in the lead up to receiving these Sacraments and beyond.
The children create prayer cards and invite members of the parish to take one of these and pray for them. These children are present in the Church through the eye-catching displays that they have created.
The Confirmation Mass itself is always a great celebration with children, parents, clergy, staff, governors and members of the parish coming together in worship.
We also recognise the significance of these events in the lives of our Y3 and Y6 children in whole school Celebration Masses on the Friday following them receiving the sacrament for the first time, when children lead us in prayer and are presented with their certificates.