Sacraments

Sacraments are religious ceremonies that are seen as ways of receiving God’s grace. In the Roman Catholic Church, there are seven sacraments: baptism, confession, Eucharist (the Lord's Supper), confirmation, marriage, holy orders and extreme unction (last rites). One receives grace from God by participating in the sacraments.

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Baptism

Baptism is the sacrament through which we become part of the family of God. Our parish welcomes those who wish to be baptised. Baptisms are arranged by contacting the Parish Priest who will help parents prepare for this special event.

Reconciliation

The Sacrament of Penance is the first of two sacraments of healing. Reconciliation involves four elements: (1) Contrition (the Penitent's sincere remorse for wrongdoing or sin, repentance, without which the rite has no effect); (2) Confession to a Priest with the faculty to hear confessions while it may be spiritually helpful to confess to another, only a Priest has the power to administer the sacrament; (3) Absolution by the Priest; and, (4) Satisfaction or Penance.

Children of the Parish, who have been baptised, are prepared for their First Forgiveness either at school or by the catechists at Church, during the preparation for their First Holy Communion.

Confessions are available each week during the year. Please see the Mass Times page for details.

Communion

The Eucharist is the sacrament in which we take the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and participate in his one sacrifice. When we receive Holy Communion, we receive the body and blood of Christ.

Children in Year 3 at Catholic Primary Schools are prepared for their First Holy Communion during religious education lessons. Those attending non-catholic schools are prepared by our catechists, at meetings in the lower sacristy. First Holy Communion of children in our parish will take place in June 2009. For more information or if you would like your child to receive instruction please see the catechists' information on the Parish Groups page.

Communion is available daily at Mass or the Eucharistic Service each day. Please refer to the Mass Times page. Mass times for other parishes in this area can also be found there.

Confirmation

Confirmation is the sacrament which confirms and strengthens baptismal grace. It is conferred by the anointing with Sacred Chrism (oil mixed with balsam and consecrated by the bishop), which is done by the laying on of the hand of the Bishop, who pronounces the sacramental words proper to the rite. In Confirmation, a person declares their faith openly in the middle of the community and commits, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to live out that faith every day.

Those wishing to be confirmed (usually teenagers) are prepared by our catechists. The teenagers meet weekly in the Lower Sacristy for instruction before being presented to the Bishop for their confirmation. Confirmations will be held annually in our area shared between the parishes of Our Lady & St John, Heswall; Holy Family, Pensby and St Winefride’s, Neston. For more information or if you would like your child to receive instruction please see the catechists' information on the Parish Groups page.

Marriage

Holy matrimony is considered an intimate union in which the spouses give themselves, as equal persons, completely and lovingly to one another. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that marriage is both a natural institution and a sacred union because it is rooted in the divine plan for creation. The family is known as the 'domestic Church' because it is here that children will first experience the faith. In a community of love and prayer, they can thus grow in their own faith, and in love of God and neighbour.

Couples who wish to be married in the eyes of the church are invited to contact the Parish Priest at the presbytery to arrange for their preparation in the sacrament of marriage and arrange the date of the marriage service.

If you would like information about wedding music or flowers please see the Flower Arrangements and Choir/Organ section on the Parish Groups page

Sacrament of the Sick

Anointing of the Sick is the second sacrament of healing. In this sacrament a priest anoints the sick with oil blessed specifically for that purpose. In this sacrament the healing power of God's love is experienced by those who are seriously ill. They receive peace and strength to bear the burden of their illness, and courage to unite themselves with the sufferings of Christ for the good of the whole Church. Together with this healing of soul, God sometimes grants healing of body if this be his will. As part of the healing, the sick person also receives forgiveness of their sins.

This sacrament is celebrated by anyone who suffers a serious illness, not only by those who are near to death. It may be repeated each time a person falls ill, or if their illness worsens. Near to death, it may be accompanied by the giving of Holy Communion as food for the final journey towards God. [When this sacrament was conferred only on those in immediate danger of death, it came to be known as "Extreme Unction, i.e. "Final Anointing", administered as one of the "Last Rites".] For the Anointing of the Sick and administration of the last rites - telephone the Parish Priest.

Holy Orders

Holy Orders is the sacrament by which a man is made a bishop, a priest, or a deacon, and thus dedicated to be an image of Christ. Ordination as a deacon places one at the service of the bishop, especially in the Church's exercising of Christian charity towards the poor and preaching of the word of God. Ordination as a priest confers on one the power, as the bishops' assistant, to celebrate the sacraments and other liturgical acts, especially the Eucharist. Ordination as a bishop (as successor of the Apostles), gives one the mission to teach, sanctify, and guide, along with the care of all the Churches. Those in Holy Orders serve the Body of Christ by teaching, leading worship, and pastoral care.

If you are considering the Priesthood or another Religious Life as a Vocation then contact the Diocese of Shrewsbury for further information and advice

Becoming a Catholic

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process through which interested adults are gradually introduced to the Roman Catholic faith and way of life. The RCIA programme builds an understanding of the Catholic Faith.For further information please contact the Parish Priest