SACRAMENTSThe Seven Significant Dimensions of Human Life
The seven sacraments are more than symbols: they make God’s presence and love visible in seven significant dimensions of human life: birth, growth and death (Baptism and Confirmation), sin & reconciliation (Reconciliation/Penance), union with God and with others (Eucharist), suffering and healing (Anointing of the Sick), love and family (Marriage), and leading and serving the community (Ordination).
Our life as Catholic Christians is truly a life-long journey, but it is not a solitary journey. From beginning to end, the Catholic Christian journeys in Christ, both marking and celebrating this journey in sacramental encounters. Because our Sacraments are the heart of our life in Christ, sufficient preparation for them is necessary. We strive to celebrate the Sacraments in meaningful communal celebrations.
The Rite of Baptism for Children includes these words, “The Christian community welcomes you with great joy.” And it is also with great joy that St. Francis Parish helps parents prepare for the baptism of their baby. In bringing forward your child for baptism, you seek to make a permanent connection between your child and Christ with the Christian community. No matter how close or distant your own relationship with God, the new life of your child has stirred a desire in you to seek baptism for him or her. In this sacrament, the Christian community promises to walk beside you in nurturing the faith of your child.
Congratulations on the birth (or upcoming birth) of your child(ren). We are pleased to welcome you to the celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism. In order to help you prepare for the sacrament, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- In order to have your child(ren) baptized in the parish, you must have been a registered and active parishioner in the parish for a minimum of three months prior to setting up the date of your baptism.
- If this is your first time bringing a child forward for baptism, it is a requirement that you participate in our baptism preparation class. The preparation classes take place one Sunday afternoon each month at 1:30 p.m. Baptismal preparation class is also required of all parents who have not attended a class within the last three years prior to the celebration of baptism. Please contact Marcia Connolly to sign-up for the next class to be held.
- ‘Group’ Baptisms are celebrated on designated Saturday’s at 10:00 a.m. The Church does not perform baptisms during Lent.
- The selection of Godparents is an important component of the preparation process. At a minimum, at least one Godparent must be a practicing Catholic (16 years of age or older and Confirmed) and the other witness may be a non-Catholic Christian to serve as a Christian witness. Please keep in mind that the Godparents’ role is to ensure the Catholic upbringing of the child to be baptized in case the parents are unable to do so.
Please contact Marcia Connolly or call 703-221-4044 to schedule a baptism or with any questions you may have.
We welcome people of all ages into our community. The process for welcoming adults into the Roman Catholic faith is known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Please click the link above for more information.
What is Reconciliation?
Reconciliation is one of the seven sacraments (signs of the presence of Jesus in our world) of the Catholic Church. This sacrament is also called Confession and Penance. We use the term Reconciliation to emphasize the positive and joyful aspects of going to Confession. We celebrate the forgiveness which reunites us with God, the church, and the community. Reconciliation, also known as “confession,” is offered at St. Francis on Saturdays from 4:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. in the Church or by appointment. Please contact the church office at 703-221-4044 to set up an appointment.
Children Preparing to Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Children receive the sacrament of reconciliation during second grade, before they have received their First Eucharist. Parents should be involved in determining their child’s readiness to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time. For First Reconciliation, we have a communal rite with individual Confession and Absolution. It is then the parent’s responsibility to bring their children to the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is celebrated prior to the reception of First Eucharist. Instruction for this sacrament precedes instruction for First Eucharist This is done to teach children the specific identity of this sacrament and to help them feel comfortable with it before receiving First Eucharist.
Eucharist is the central act of the Church’s worship and the source of our community’s life and strength-it is our communion with the risen Jesus and with the entire community, local, around the world, and beyond death. Liturgy is the source and summit of our lives at St. Francis of Assisi Parish. As disciples, we hunger to be fed and nourished by the Word and Sacrament of Jesus Christ. Please click on the link to our mass schedule.
If you need Eucharist for the sick, please contact the parish office at 703-221-4044.
Children Preparing for the Sacrament of the Eucharist
Children in second grade prepare to receive their First Communion in the spring. For more information on the components of the First Communion program, please go here.
Adults or Older Children Needing to Receive First Eucharist
We welcome people of all ages into our community. The process for welcoming adults into the Roman Catholic faith is known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and Children (RCIC). Go here to learn more about RCIA for Adults and go here to learn more about RCIC for Children.
Anointing of the Sick
The Rite of Anointing tells us there is no need to wait until a person is at the point of death to receive the Sacrament. A careful judgment about the serious nature of the illness is sufficient. The Sacrament may be repeated if the sick person recovers after the anointing but becomes ill once again, or if, during the same illness, the person’s condition becomes more serious. A person should be anointed before surgery when a dangerous illness is the reason for the intervention (cf. Rite of Anointing, Introduction, nos. 8-10).
Moreover, “old people may be anointed if they are in weak condition even though no dangerous illness is present. Sick children may be anointed if they have sufficient use of reason to be comforted by this sacrament. . . . [The faithful] should be encouraged to ask for the anointing, and, as soon as the time for the anointing comes, to receive it with faith and devotion, not misusing the sacrament by putting it off” (Rite of Anointing, nos. 11, 12, 13).
Only bishops and priests may be ministers of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. A penitential rite followed by the Liturgy of the Word opens the celebration. Scripture awakens the faith of the sick and family members and friends to pray to Christ for the strength of his Holy Spirit. The priest lays his hands on the head of the sick person. He then proceeds to anoint, with the blessed Oil of the Sick, the forehead and hands of the sick person (in the Roman Rite). He accompanies these acts with the words, “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up” (CCC, no. 1513).
For those who are about to depart from this life, the Church offers the person Penance, Anointing of the Sick, and the Eucharist as Viaticum (food for the journey) given at the end of life. These are “the sacraments that prepare for our heavenly homeland” (cf. CCC, no. 1525). These rites are highly valued by Catholics as powerful aids to a good death. Since Holy Communion is the effective sign of Christ’s Paschal Mystery, it becomes for the recipient the opportunity to unite one’s own suffering and dying to that of Christ with the hope of life eternal with him. The special words proper to Viaticum are added: “May the Lord Jesus protect you and lead you to everlasting life. Amen.”
To request a Friar to administer Anointing of the Sick, please contact the parish office by phone (703) 221-4044. After business hours, please call the Sacramental Emergency line (703) 468-1180. Please note the local parish, that which is closest to the hospital, is responsible for Anointings in emergency situations.
The parishes responsible for emergency anointing are:
• INOVA—Lorton—Our Lady of Angels, Woodbridge
• INOVA—Mt. Vernon—Good Shepherd, Alexandria
• INOVA—Fairfax (Hospital’s Chaplain’s office 24/7)
• INOVA—Fair Oaks—St. Veronica’s, Chantilly
• INOVA—Alexandria—Blessed Sacrament, Alexandria
• Mary Washington Hospital—St. Mary’s, Fredericksburg
• Prince William Hospital—All Saints, Manassas
• Sentara Hospital—Our Lady of Angels, Woodbridge
• Spotsylvania Hospital—St. Jude, Fredericksburg
• Stafford Hospital—St. William of York, Stafford
• Virginia Hospital—St. Ann’s, Arlington
Visiting the Sick and Homebound
There are times when we are limited physically by illness, surgery or other reasons. A visit by a friendly parishioner can add to our quality of life. There are several ways for our church to respond, depending upon the need.
- Stephen Ministry is the one-to-one lay caring ministry. Caregivers, called Stephen Ministers, provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting. Please follow this link for more information about Stephen Ministry or contact Kathy Walker (703-221-4044, ext 233 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Eucharistic Ministers make visits to parishioners in the hospital or in personal homes to provide the sick or homebound with the opportunity to participate in Eucharist, when they are not able to participate in the Mass. To schedule a minister to make a visit or multiple visits, please contact Br. Henry Fulmer (703-221-4044, ext. 227 or email@example.com)
- Sometimes Stephen Ministry is not appropriate for a particular circumstance, and there is still a need for a volunteer to visit, even when Eucharist is not desired. Please contact Br. Henry Fulmer (703-221-4044, ext. 227 or firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule a friendly visit by a parishioner.
Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, Christ gives to His Church ordained ministers who build up the priesthood of the faithful, through preaching, administering sacraments and guiding the faithful to holiness and faith.
The three degrees or “orders” are bishop, priest and deacon. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers more detailed info. Check out their Holy Orders Handout (PDF) and their FAQs on the Priesthood (PDF).
Religious order exist as communities of individuals who live their lives according to certain vows. These vows reflect a particular set of values and principles. Religious orders have their own hierarchy. Our Franciscan Friars are part of the Holy Name Province of the Order of Friars Minor (O.F.M.). Holy Name Province is shepherded by a Provincial Minister who interfaces with the local bishops and reports to the Minister General in Rome.
St. Francis of Assisi left behind not only a legend but a religious order. Popularly known today as the Franciscan order, its real name is the ordo fratrum minorum (O.F.M.), Order of Friars Minor. Friars Minor are “first order,” the Poor Clares, who are religious sisters, are “second order” and professed laity are “third order” called Secular Franciscans. They all answering the same call to live the Gospel in the example of St. Francis.