Preparation for the Sacraments


Baptism of Babies

It is very much best if children are brought for baptism as soon after birth as possible: within a couple of months, that is. Baptising toddlers is fun for nobody, least of all for the toddler!

You can find an application form at the back of each church which has helpful information about what you need to do.

Take a form, fill it in, and then ring Fr Seán or Deacon Richard to arrange a meeting. At the meeting, there will be a little chat about bringing your child up in the faith, and then a date for the baptism can be arranged.


Baptism of Children

If your child is of school age, he or she will also need to prepare for the sacrament over some weeks, to make sure that your child truly wants baptism, and also is able to understand (to a degree suitable to the child’s age) what is happening. There will be a few sessions with a catechist at a mutually convenient time.

You will need to help your child learn his or her prayers—the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be.

If your child is 8 years or older, he or she can be prepared for the sacrament of First Communion also, and perhaps even Confirmation.

Baptism of Adults

Preparation for adult baptism takes place in an Enquiry Group over several months usually beginning in September or October, leading up to the reception of the sacrament at either Easter or Pentecost.

Meetings take place at the Presbytery once a week on a mutually convenient evening, where the teachings of the Church are carefully explained and candidates have the opportunity to discuss and ask all the questions that they need to.

This is the same course as that undertaken by those who are already baptized, but who wish to come into full communion with the Church.

In the Adur Valley, children may be prepared for First Holy Communion when they are 8 years old or above; which is to say, in Year Four or above. This is the usual age in the Worthing Deanery, though some other parishes prepare the children a year earlier. Experience has shown that a child derives much more benefit from the course by having that one additional year of maturity.

Preparation sessions take place in St Peter’s Hall on several Saturday mornings between September and June. The sessions are not weekly, but are spaced out to make it possible for your child not to lose contact with other Saturday morning activities (football, and so forth). There are also three or four parents’ sessions on a weekday evening over the course of the year.

There are two course books which you will need to buy for your child (help is available if necessary). These will be made available at the first parents’ meeting. After each session there will be some homework, with which you will need to help your child. If you need help with this, it is always available.

Sessions in the Autumn will prepare your child to make his or her first Confession shortly before Christmas. The spring sessions are concerned with the Eucharist.

First Communion is usually celebrated together as a group on or around Corpus Christi Sunday, in late May or early June at an 11.00 Mass in St Peter’s church. First Communion may be received at Christ the King or The Towers if parents would like this. The following week (usually), there is a celebration of the Eucharist at The Towers, with Mass, followed by a great Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, presentation of certificates, and a picnic with games.

First Holy Communion

Confirmation of under-18s

In the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, the sacrament of Confirmation may be received by those in Year 10 or above, which is to say that they must have passed their fourteenth birthday on the 1st September in order to begin preparation.

Preparation for this sacrament is made on a Friday evening beginning with Mass at 7pm. The sessions are roughly monthly, beginning in the autumn.

The course begins usually with a trip by train to Ryde on the Isle of Wight in early September together with the group who have just been confirmed. We visit the nuns at St Cecilia’s Abbey for a short service, a talk from the sisters, and Mass, and also spend time relaxing on the beach.

In the course of the preparation, usually early on, there is a retreat or live-in, normally at a monastery, over one weekend. This is a very important part of the course, both for the sake of the material covered, and also because it helps the group to bond.

By the end of the course, the young people will be expected to have an appropriate understanding of the Apostles’ Creed, the Seven Sacraments and the Ten Commandments.

Confirmation is usually received at Arundel Cathedral in the late spring or early summer with the other candidates from the Worthing Deanery.


Confirmation of adults

There can be two or more reasons that an adult might seek the Sacrament of Confirmation. One is because when they were fourteen, either they were not ready, or not willing, or missed out for some other cause. If they have had reasonable Catholic schooling, and are familiar with the basic doctrines of the faith, there will need to be a sort of brush-up over a few sessions. Usually the confirmation itself takes place in the parish, permission being sought from the Bishop for Fr Seán or Fr Tony to administer it (unless other arrangements are made).

The other reason someone might seek Confirmation as an adult is so that they might be received into full Communion with the Church. In this case, candidates will join with the adult candidates for Baptism in the Enquiry group, and will thoroughly cover the Church’s teachings and practices in weekly evening meetings over the course of several months, culminating in reception into full Communion and the reception of Confirmation either at Easter or Pentecost.

If a candidate for the sacraments has been married for a second time it is very important to make this clear to the priest from the beginning, as this needs to be addressed before sacraments can be received. Often something can be done about it, but it invariably takes time.

Sadly, we don’t get many weddings in our parish. Partly this is because there is a greater tendency for couples to set up home here after their marriage; the large new developments at Emerald Quay and Ropetackle are of a size and type to suit a young couple with a baby or two.

Another reason is the perceived necessity to make a wedding little short of a royal wedding. One gets the impression that, as soon as the ‘W’ word is mentioned, all tradespeople, cars, photographers, caterers, quadruple their prices. From our perspective, all this is utterly unnecessary.

What you need for a wedding is a priest or deacon, a man and a woman who have not been married before and two witnesses. Everything else is a dispensable bolt-on.

If economic reasons have prevented you from getting married, please have a word with one of the clergy. Big parties can happen at any time, but don’t let money put you off from doing the right thing.

Because we don’t have many marriages, we don’t run a marriage course as such in the Adur Valley, but those preparing for marriage must attend one; there are courses in Brighton and Crawley, and if these don’t work out, we can arrange for something to be done.