CELEBRATING THE SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION

Christian initiation is accomplished by three sacraments together: Baptism which is the beginning of new life; Confirmation which is its strengthening; and the Eucharist which nourishes the disciple with Christ's Body and Blood for his transformation in Christ. (CCC, 1275)


Baptism

Adults and older children who seek Baptism will have instruction in the basics of the Catholic faith, either through private meetings with the priest or a lay catechist, or by enrolling in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) for group sessions.


Parents who seek Baptism for their infant children will meet with the priest for instruction; this may be done even before the birth of the child. Baptism of infants should not be delayed, but should be celebrated within the first few weeks of the child’s life. It is most important that the soul be filled with God’s grace from the child’s earliest days. (CIC, 867)

Regarding sponsors (godparents) for Baptism:
  • Only one is required, either male or female
  • If there are two sponsors, they must be a male and a female
  • They must be 16 years of age or older
  • Ideally, both sponsors should be practising Catholics who live a life of faith consistent with the responsibility of a godparent, however, a practising member of another Christian denomination may be admitted as a Christian witness
  • It is absolutely not permitted for non-believers to be sponsors.

A baptised Christian who wishes to join the Catholic Church will meet with the priest for instruction, as necessary, before celebrating the Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation or Confession), making a Profession of Catholic Faith and then being confirmed and receiving the Holy Eucharist for the first time as a Catholic.


First Communion and Confirmation

Parish children receive First Communion in Year 4, and Confirmation in Year 6, receiving there instruction either in the Catholic School or by attending the classes for State School children. Baptised adults who wish to be confirmed should contact the parish priest.


There need be only one sponsor for Confirmation, who may be either male or female, and 16 years of age or older. This sponsor must be a practising Catholic, and may not be the parent of the person being confirmed.





CELEBRATING THE SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE

Two other sacraments, Holy Orders and Matrimony, are directed towards the salvation of others; if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so. They confer a particular mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God.

Through these sacraments, those already consecrated by Baptism and Confirmation for the common priesthood of all the faithful can receive particular consecrations. Those who receive the sacrament of Holy Orders are consecrated in Christ's name to feed the Church by the word and grace of God. On their part, Christian spouses are fortified and consecrated for the duties and dignity of their state by a special sacrament. (CCC, 1534-5)


Matrimony

A Catholic may be married either at Good Shepherd, or in any other Catholic Church with the permission of the local priest. If a parishioner from Good Shepherd wishes to marry in a Catholic Church other than Good Shepherd they should inform the Parish Priest.


A Catholic who is marrying a non-Catholic Christian may celebrate the sacrament either:
  • By marrying in a Catholic church; in this case, the non-Catholic Christian pastor may be invited to attend and participate in the liturgy by offering prayers and/or saying a few words; the Catholic priest, however, must witness the exchange of consent.
  • By marrying in a non-Catholic Christian church; in this case, the Catholic priest may be invited to attend and participate in the liturgy as above; in this case, it is normally the non-Catholic Christian pastor who witnesses the exchange of consent.
In either situation, if the Catholic party has received the proper dispensation from the Archbishop, and the couple have received instructions from the Catholic priest and attended one of the required Archdiocesan marriage preparation programs, the marriage is sacramental.

A Catholic who is marrying a non-Christian (Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or unbeliever) may do so, and the couple is required to receive instructions from the Catholic priest and attend one of the Archdiocesan marriage programs; however, this marriage is not sacramental since it is not contracted between two baptised Christians.

Those preparing for marriage must present the following documents to the priest preparing them for the sacrament:
  • A copy of their baptismal certificate; Catholics should ask the parish where they were baptised for a new copy of the certificate that also notes the date and place of their Confirmation; non-Catholic Christians are likewise requested to acquire a copy of their baptismal certificate from their church; these certificates will be kept and included in the parish marriage file;
  • A notarised birth certificate or passport; these will be returned after the information required by the Government is recorded in the marriage papers.
The couple will normally meet with the priest for three sessions before they attend the Archdiocesan marriage program, and then for another one or two sessions afterward, when they will prepare the liturgy of marriage. Therefore, it is recommended that the engaged couple meet with the priest as soon as possible, even before they set a wedding date.

Catholic marriages are not celebrated outside sacred places (churches), unless there is a grave reason to do so. In this case, it is necessary to apply to the Archbishop for a dispensation to marry outside a sacred place.





CELEBRATING THE SACRAMENTS OF HEALING

The Lord Jesus Christ, Physician of our souls and bodies, Who forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health, has willed that His Church continue, in the power of the Holy Spirit, His work of healing and salvation, even among her own members. This is the purpose of the two sacraments of healing: the sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation) and the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. (CCC, 1421)


Reconciliation

Individuals may make an appointment with the priest to celebrate the sacrament; this may especially be appropriate when the person wishes to discuss a situation in some detail and receive appropriate advice, as well as absolution.


Parish children celebrate the sacrament for the first time in Year 3, and receive their instruction either in a Catholic school or by attending the classes for state school.


Anointing of the Sick and Last Rites

Parishioners who are seriously ill, or preparing for surgery, or debilitated by old age are encouraged to contact the parish priest to receive this sacrament, either at home or in hospital.


Parishioners who are gravely ill and approaching death should be fortified by the Last Rites of the Church, which include:
  • Confession (if the person is conscious and able to confess; otherwise the priest will give absolution without individual confession)
  • Anointing
  • Papal blessing (the special blessing and indulgence given by the Holy Father’s authority at the time of death)
  • Viaticum (‘food for the journey’ - the person’s last Holy Communion)

It is good for family members and friends to be with the sick person during the time before death, to support him/her with prayer. It is highly recommended to read Scripture and pray prayers that are familiar to the person so that they can join in, at least silently.