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What Happens During the First Holy Communion?

Updated April 17, 2017

The First Holy Communion is a ritual that introduces children as full members of the faith, or newly converted adults as full members of the Roman Catholic Church. Children should be 7 or older to take the First Holy Communion.

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Preparing for the First Holy Communion

Children are prepared beforehand for the ritual. They should be baptised by water by the Catholic church using the phrase "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." They are encouraged to have at least a year of a religion class to learn about the teachings of the church. Before the First Holy Communion, children or new adult converts should attend Mass and First Holy Communion workshops. Parents can help their children prepare by studying the ritual at home in the weeks before their First Holy Communion.

First Communion Gift Ideas

The First Holy Communion is a special time for a Catholic child and should be commemorated by meaningful gifts. Gifts can be sentimental and long-lasting. This could be a photo of the child in his white Communion outfit, or a keepsake box engraved with his name and the date of his First Communion. A gold or silver cross necklace is an appropriate gift. A Bible with the child's name on it can make the religious aspect more personal. Gifts can also include chocolate or jewellery.


The First Holy Communion is the first time a child receives the sacrament in the Catholic Church, a special point in her membership. Each child wears a special white outfit and walks to the priest to receive the sacrament, a cracker for the body of Christ and a sip of grape juice or wine for the blood of Christ. The lessons of the First Communion that the child has learnt have prepared her for the meaning and spiritual nature of the practice. Catholic churches and Catholic-leaning Christian faiths vary on whether the sacrament is based on symbols or transubstantiation, which is why religion classes are important for children to comprehend the First Holy Communion.

Celebrating the First Holy Communion

What separates the First Holy Communion from the regular taking of the Catholic sacrament is the celebration of the initiation into the faith. At the First Holy Communion, boys and girls wear special white Communion suits or dresses, as opposed to normal Mass sermons, when regular clothing is worn. Girls often wear white veils. After the First Holy Communion, families and friends celebrate with large parties.

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About the Author

Emily Meehan began freelance writing in 2007. She wrote for her graduate school newspaper "The Public Servant," covering subjects ranging from politics to arts education. Meehan has a Master of Public Service and Administration from Texas A&M University and a Bachelor of Science in sociology from Brigham Young University.

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