Sacraments

Baptism
Baptisms are ordinarily held on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month at 2:00PM.  A pre-baptismal class for parents is required.  A baptism interview must take place only after the birth of the child and when the parents have received the birth certificate.  Please call the rectory at (718) 738-1616 to schedule a short interview to start the process for the baptism of your child.

Confession
Confessions are heard weekdays at 8:45AM and on Saturdays from 12:30PM to 1:30PM.

First Communion

Catechesis for Children’s First Reception of the Eucharist
Children’s preparation for first reception of the Eucharist begins in the home. The family has the most important role in communicating the Christian and human values that form the foundation for a child’s understanding of the Eucharist.  Children who participate with their family in the Mass, experience the Eucharistic mystery in an initial way and gradually learn to join with the liturgical assembly in prayer. 

Aims of our First Communion Preparation Program

  • Teaches that the Eucharist is the living memorial of Christ’s sacrifice for the salvation of all and the commemoration of his last meal with his disciples
  • Teaches not only “the truths of faith regarding the Eucharist but also how from First Communion on . . . they can as full members of Christ’s Body take part actively with the People of God in the Eucharist, sharing in the Lord’s table and the community of their brothers and sisters”
  • Ensures that the baptized have been prepared, according to their capacity, for the Sacrament of Penance prior to their First Communion
  • Develops in children an understanding of the Father’s love, of their participation in the sacrifice of Christ, and of the gift of the Holy Spirit
  • Teaches that “the Holy Eucharist is the real body and blood of Christ” and that “what appear to be bread and wine are actually His living body”
  • Teaches the difference between the Eucharist and ordinary bread
  • Teaches the meaning of reception of the Holy Eucharist under both species of bread and wine
  • Helps them to participate actively and consciously in the Mass
  • Helps children to receive Christ’s Body and Blood in the informed and reverent manner

Text from NDC (National Directory for Catechesis) pages126 – 128 

First Communion Preparation Program
A child must be enrolled in our Religious Education Program or a Catholic School to participate in our First Communion Program. Contact our Religious Education Office for other requirements and/or information. 718-916-2319.

Confirmation
It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the Sacrament of Confirmation is the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost.

From this fact, Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace:

  • it roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry, “Abba! Father!”;
  • it unites us more firmly to Christ;
  • it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us;
  • it renders our bond with the Church more perfect;
  • it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross: 

Recall then that you have received the spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear in God’s presence. Guard what you have received. God the Father has marked you with his sign; Christ the Lord has confirmed you and has placed his pledge, the Spirit, in your hearts.

Like Baptism which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it too imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, the “character,” which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness.

This “character” perfects the common priesthood of the faithful, received in Baptism, and “the confirmed person receives the power to profess faith in Christ publicly and as it were officially (quasi ex officio).”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1302 – 1305
Confirmation Preparation Program For the Youth of our Parish
A young person interested in participating in our Confirmation Program must be enrolled in our Religious Education Program or a Catholic School.  Contact our Religious Education Office for other requirements and/or more information. 718-916-2319.

Matrimony
In the midst of our society’s great misunderstandings of the nature of marriage, St. Helen Parish takes very seriously its responsibility to adequately assist couples who wish to be married in our church to prepare not just for their wedding day but for their whole married life together.  For this reason, engaged couples should contact the Rectory at least ONE YEAR in advance of the desired date. Please call (718) 738-1616 for an appointment for the initial interview.  Although couples generally have a desired date in mind, they should delay booking a venue for the reception until they have met with a priest or deacon.

Baptized Catholics are obliged to observe the Church’s laws regarding marriage.  The priests of St. Helen are more than willing to discuss these obligations with those considering marriage or those who have been married civilly who wish to have their marriages recognized by the Church.

CHURCH DOCUMENTS REGARDING MARRIAGE

THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Description of the Sacrament of Matrimony

THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
On human sexuality and the love of husband and wife

HUMANAE VITAE – ENCYCLICAL of POPE PAUL VI
A presentation of the Church’s teaching on artifical birth control.  Published in 1968.

FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO – APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
On the role of the Christian family in the modern world

FAMILY, MARRIAGE AND “DE FACTO” UNIONS
From the Pontifical Council for the Family

Holy Orders
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.” (1536)  Ordinations always take place during a special Mass celebrated by a bishop.  Although each degree of Holy Orders has distinct ceremonies, the essential rite for every degree of Holy Orders is the imposition of the ordaining bishop’s hands on the head of the person being ordained and the prayer of ordination that follows.

The first degree of Holy Orders is the diaconate.  Future priests spend a brief period of time as deacons just before their ordination to the priesthood.  These are called transitional deacons.  Since the Second Vatican Council, men are also ordained to remain deacons.  These are called permanent deacons.  A married man may be ordained a permanent deacon.  Every deacon is committed particularly to works of charity and service.  During Mass, the deacon is the immediate assistant to the priest celebrant.  As such, he instructs the assembly, proclaims the Gospel, prepares the altar, and helps the celebrant in whatever way possible.  He is an Ordinary Minister of Holy Communion and is particularly entrusted with the care and distribution of the Precious Blood.  Deacons may also baptize solemnly, officiate at weddings and funerals outside of Mass, preside at communal celebrations of the Divine Office, give Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and lead devotions and prayers.

The second degree of Holy Orders is the priesthood.  Every diocese has a group of priests that are dedicated to the service of the people of that territory.  Some members of religious orders are also ordained priests.  They will be discussed below.  Diocesan priests promise to be obedient to the bishop and to remain celibate (unmarried).  However, they do not take a vow of poverty; they receive a modest salary and are able to own property.  Most diocesan priests are assigned to serve a particular parish.  They reside in a rectory near the church so that they can be totally available to the people that they serve.  At the heart of every priest’s life is the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which he offers in the person of Christ.  Every other aspect of his ministry flows from and leads back to the Eucharist.  After the Mass, the most important work of a parish priest is the celebration of the sacraments.  He baptizes children and sometimes adults; he officiates at the Sacrament of Marriage; he anoints the seriously ill and the elderly; he hears confessions and imparts the Lord’s mercy.  He officiates at funeral rites.  He leads devotions and prayer services.  He coordinates the teaching of the Catholic faith in his parish through the religious education program, RCIA, and possibly a parish school or affiliated academy.  He prepares homilies and other talks to teach the faithful and to urge them to live their faith more deeply.  He counsels individuals that seek his advice.  He assists couples preparing for marriage and parents preparing for the Baptism of their children.  Pastors especially oversee the administration of the parish, which consists of fundraising, maintenance of buildings and grounds, human resource management, coordination with diocesan officials, and other responsibilities.  In short, every day in the life of a parish priest is different.  Every day brings different joys and different challenges.

Some priests are given the title “Monsignor” by the Holy Father.  This is only an honorary title.  It does not correspond with being the pastor of a parish or holding a special diocesan position.

The highest degree of Holy Orders is the episcopate.  Roman Catholic bishops in the United States are chosen directly by the Holy Father from among priests.  They are then ordained by at least three bishops.  Some bishops are auxiliary bishops, meaning they assist a diocesan bishop in his duties.  The diocesan bishop is the shepherd and source of unity of all the Catholic faithful within the boundaries of the diocese.  His three principal functions are teaching, sanctifying, and governing.  Sometimes bishops are transferred from one diocese to another.  All bishops must submit a letter of resignation to the pope when they turn 75.  Even when they retire, however, bishops remain bishops, and many continue to assist the diocesan bishop in his duties.  Some bishops are called archbishops because they lead an archdiocese or a special office in the Church.  This is only a title; it does not require another ordination.  Likewise, some bishops are made cardinals by the pope.  Again, this is a title; it does not require another ordination.

Aside from diocesan bishops, priests, and deacons, there are members of religious orders.  Some of the better-known religious orders are the Franciscans, the Dominicans, and the Jesuits.  Members of these orders commit themselves to growing in holiness through the particular way of life of their community.  They typically make vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  Some members of religious orders are priests and (transitional) deacons.  Non-ordained members of male communities are often called “brothers.”  Similarly, members of female communities are usually called “sisters.”  Every religious community is unique.  Some are contemplative, meaning their members are primarily devoted to prayer.  Some are active, meaning their members undertake certain work outside of the community, such as teaching and healthcare.

The privilege of serving God’s people as a priest, deacon, religious sister or brother is personally fulfilling and spiritually exciting.  Anyone who feels they might be interested in the priesthood, diaconate, or religious life should speak to a parish priest.

Good Shepherd Statue
Each week a family generously agrees to take home the Good Shepherd Statue to pray in a special way for vocations.  Prayers and suggestions are sent home with the statue. If your family is interested in participating as a “Good Shepherd” family, please call the rectory at 718-738-1616, ext. 213.

PrayerForVocations

Anointing of the Sick
Those who are seriously ill, or advanced in age, should receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  Please call the Rectory at (718) 738-1616 to arrange for this.  If the sick person is unable to come to the church, a priest will visit the parishioner at home.

This sacrament need not and should not be delayed until death is imminent.  It is meant to give someone the spiritual healing and strength needed to bear a serious illness with courage and trust in God.  In some cases, the Lord uses this sacrament to bring about physical healing as well.