First Reconciliation, First Communion, Confirmation
Many parishes offer First Reconciliation and First Communion in second grade. Because our parish follows the "Generation of Faith" model, we ask our families to commit to the life of our parish family for one full year by attending the Core Lesson together as a family and through regular attendance at Sunday Mass. Preparation for Sacraments are not attached to a grade. After families have attend Core Lesson for one year, they may present their children for the Sacraments of First Reconciliation, First Communion or Confirmation.
Bishop Morlino has asked that youth are confirmed by 9th grade. Preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation begins in the 6th grade and consists of three components:
- Encounter Class – A study of salvation history
- Chosen I
- Chosen II
After participation and completion of these components, the Sacrament of Confirmation is conferred through a regional celebration, most often hosted at either Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Monona or St. Dennis Parish, Madison. Parents are urged to attend all formation with their children. A calendar of days is given to each family in the month of June.
Upcoming Baptismal Prep Classes
All classes are held at the Parish Center (old school) in room 1 (to the left as you enter the front doors).
If you are in need of preparation, or need to attend a class to serve as a godparent, please call Geri in the parish office to schedule a class time.
About Our Program
The Sacrament of Baptism is the first of three Sacraments of Initiation. Children begin their faith journey with Baptism, as they are welcomed into God's family. Baptism encourages the child to "put on Christ", to participate in His risen life! The Christian identity goes deep into their soul, and they are configured to Christ by His grace. Baptism is a commitment on the part of the parents who will raise the child in accord with the practices of the faith, assisted by the godparents. The following requirements are set forth in order to bring a child forward for baptism:
- The parents must be registered in the parish, attending Mass regularly and actively supporting the parish.
- If parents are not members of the parish themselves, they must be related to an immediate family member who is registered and active in the parish.
- Parents who are bringing their first child for baptism are required to attend a baptismal preparation class.
- Godparents chosen by the parents are required to verify that they meet the requirements to be a godparent as set forth by the Code of Canon Law.
Choosing a Godparent
“You must always be an example of faith to inspire this child - to see that the divine life which God gives to them is kept safe from the poison of sin ... (Rite of Baptism)”. The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that, for everything, there is a season. In the same way, the Church reminds us that, for every role, there is a purpose. Things are not done in the Church “just because”... there is always an important reason behind our rituals and rubrics (the actions which accompany the words we speak). In this article, I would like to focus on the Sacrament of Baptism and the role of the godparent. Godparents fulfill an essential role - not only at the time of Baptism, but throughout a person’s life.
Oftentimes, godparents are overlooked in terms of their importance. Parents will defer to someone they know and trust to serve as a godparent. Perhaps the parents may have a good relationship with this person, but do they ask the tough questions that should be asked of a godparent? The Code of Canon Law sets forth the following requirements for godparents with regard to baptism:
- They must be at least 16 years of age.
- They must have received the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation).
- They must live an upright life.
- They cannot be under any canonical penalty.
All of these items seem pretty straightforward. However, we must pay particular attention to the third item in the list above. What does it mean to live an “upright” life? These questions may be appropriate to ask to help us answer that question. Do they attend Mass regularly? Do they strive to lead a good, holy life? Do they have a good prayer life? Do they make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation on a regular basis? In the Rite of Christian Initiation, a godparent is described as someone who is a member “of the Christian community who will ... help [the newly baptized] persevere in the faith and in [their] life as a Christian.” The Rite continues on the role of the godparent and their relationship to the parents and other family members. “...The godparent should be present to be added spiritually to the immediate family of the one to be baptized and to represent Mother Church. As occasion offers, [they] will be ready to help the parents bring up their child to profess the faith and to show this by living it” (RCIA General Introduction, ¶ 8-10).
As we can see here, friends, the responsibility of the godparent doesn’t end on the day of a child’s baptism; in fact, it is just beginning!! The role of godparent is not simply to answer a few questions and hold the baptismal candle during the Rite of Baptism. The Rite says, “Parents and godparents, this light has been entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly” (Rite of Baptism). The role of godparent is a special bond that is shared first and foremost with the child, but also with the parents, as the godparents take an active role in ensuring that a child is raised in the practices of the faith and assists the parents with this important responsibility.
The history of godparents goes back to the time of the ancient Church. When infants were brought for solemn baptism, there was always a person to assist at the liturgy to make a profession of faith in the child’s name. These practices are witnessed in the writings of Tertullian, and the Church fathers (St. Basil and St. Augustine in particular). During the time of the persecutions, godparents played an important role to care for the child should the lives of their parents be taken.
There are many of us who serve the role as godparent to our nieces, nephews, grandchildren, cousins, friends, etc. How often do you communicate with your godchild? Do you encourage them to remain active in the Church? Are you present to your godchildren to encourage them and to give them counsel when they have questions? Godparents should be near to the child during their formative years (as opposed to living across the country or on another continent). In order to fulfill the role of godparent, godparents must be near their godchildren and able to share actively in their lives. When considering a sponsor for confirmation, parents and children should look first to the godparents. What better person to fulfill the role of sponsor than one who has been close to the child throughout their life and has helped them grow in their faith? A wonderful choice!
To those who serve as godparents: rejoice in what God has called you to be!! To parents preparing for baptism and thinking about godparents: spend some time in prayer, and make a good choice - one that will bring many spiritual benefits to you and to your child for all their years.
Marriage Preparation Guidelines
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Wedding Reading Selections
Wedding Mass / Liturgy Worksheet for Couples
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What is the FOCCUS Inventory?
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Helpful Hints for Your Wedding Program
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Wedding Checklist for Brides and Grooms
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The Sacrament of Marriage at St. Bernard
Congratulations on your upcoming marriage! Marriage is a special Sacrament in which God's grace is bestowed upon husband and wife to assume the essential duties of marriage and to live in word and deed the command of the gospel - "the two shall become one flesh." Marriage is more than a way of life - it is a vocation by which the lives of husband and wife are united to Christ Himself. It is a serious commitment and takes ample preparation to fully understand the life a husband and wife will embrace as they proclaim God's love through the Sacramental love they share with each other.
Are Catholics required to marry in the Catholic Church?
Yes. All Catholics are bound to observe canonical form when they are married. Canonical form requires that a couple be married in a church, before a priest with two witnesses who meet the requirements of Canon Law and Wisconsin Statues. A Catholic may marry outside the Church (in a Lutheran church, for example) with the proper permission. Permission can be sought through the pastor. If permission is not received, the marriage would be considered invalid in the eyes of the Church because the proper permission was not sought.
Am I allowed to marry at St. Bernard?
The parish receives many requests for weddings here. In order to remain faithful to the members of our parish and their immediate family members, we have set forth the following policies for those eligible to marry:
- The couple intending to marry must be registered, participating and contributing members of the parish for at least three months.
- The couple must have members of their immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparents) who are registered, participating and contributing members of the parish.
Our primary concern is for the members of our parish, and we adhere to this policy strictly.
When should I talk to the pastor about getting married?
Couples who are planning to marry, and it is the first bond of marriage (neither the bride or the groom have been married before: in a church, civilly or by common law) should approach the pastor at least six months before the wedding is to take place.
Couples intending to marry who have been previously married must see the pastor in order to determine the circumstances regarding the previous bond or bonds of marriage. In order to marry in the Catholic Church, couples must be free to enter into marriage. In most cases, previous bonds of marriage will need to be investigated by our diocesan marriage tribunal. The time needed to review these bonds of marriage can take upwards of one year. It is extremely important that couples seek counsel from the pastor before making any plans for marriage.
Is it ok to book my reception venues and make other arrangements before meeting with the pastor?
This practice is highly discouraged. The pastor will not place the wedding on the parish's calendar until there is established certainty that the couple are free to enter into marriage. In all cases, couples should speak with the pastor before making any other plans.
Are there requirements to marry in the Catholic Church?
Yes. There are requirements at both the diocesan level and at the parish level. Please see the link at the top of this section to review our marriage policies.
Once a couple has been cleared to marry here at the parish, it is important to sign up for the marriage courses required by the Diocese of Madison. Spots in these classes fill up quickly, so the earlier a couple registers, the easier it will be to find a date that accommodates your schedule. The two courses look at marriage from a theological perspective and a more practical perspective. Couples who have taken the courses have had very positive comments about their content.
To register for the marriage courses, please click here. Course registration is done online.