There is much on offer for those aged 0-26; this page begins with new-borns and finishes with young adult leaders! It includes information on Holy Communion and Confirmation as part of a pathway – a journey for children and teenagers, full of opportunities, and full of discoveries. These years can be a time of many questions – we hope that the opportunities here give space for young people as they both deepen and question faith. There are also magnificent opportunities for service – in the scouts and guides, and through the Brentwood Catholic Youth Service, as well as through Altar Serving, and in young leaders developed through the parish. We are blessed with young adult and adult leaders who will walk with young people each step of the way.
“Chatty Mondays” – especially for new parents
Every Monday at 10am there is a simple Mass, where the very youngest parishioners are especially welcome. After Mass (approx 10.30 – 11.30am)new parents share the joys and challenges of being a parent, as well as local tips, hints and ideas, over a relaxed cup of coffee with wonderful cake. It is a warm space – and very warm-hearted! Come and see.
Beavers (age 6-8) Cubs (age 8-10) Scouts (age 10-14)
The Beavers, Cubs and Scouts are accredited by the Scouting Association of Great Britain. These groups have received many quality unit awards and is very active in council-wide and parish-wide activities. For more information, contact John Hartie via the Parish Office. For national information look at the Scouts website.
Rainbows (age 5-7) Brownies (age 7-10 years) and Guides (age 10-14 years)
The Rainbows, Brownies and Guides are accredited group within the national charity, Girlguiding. They enjoy many and varied activities including arts and crafts, and have the opportunity to learn many new skills in the friendly and chatty meetings, which are held weekly. For more information on Guides, contact Annette Bacon or on Rainbows & Brownies, Helen Francis, both via the Parish Office. For national information, have a look at the Girlguiding website
First Holy Communion and First Reconciliation (School Year 3 and above)
When a child is in Year 3 or above, they are welcome to celebrate their First Holy Communion. There is a programme of preparation, usually from September to May, and the First Holy Communion Masses take place in May/June. During the programme the children learn more about the life and teaching of Jesus, and how they can know him as a Brother, Saviour and Friend.
The programme also includes First Reconciliation (“First Confession”) usually celebrated in Advent. This is explained to the children in a way which emphasises God’s forgiveness and love.
The adult catechists – supported by teenage catechists in leading the programme – are very experienced, and the programme is suitable for children of different abilities. There is much more information available via the Parish Office at the time when you enrol for the programme – please keep an eye on the newsletter.
Altar Serving (from age 8+)
Altar Servers assist the priest during Mass, and it is wonderful that there are over 25 servers in the parish. The youngest are 8 years old; a child can begin serving as soon as they have made their First Holy Communion. There are many teenage servers, and young adult servers with experience to help train and guide new servers.
Once they have served for a year, our servers are enrolled as members of the Guild of St Stephen. This national Guild offers further support for servers, including events such as the annual Mass at Westminster Cathedral, where 3,000 servers from across the country gather. There are also opportunities to serve the Bishop at Brentwood Cathedral. We arrange a social trip for our servers, to thank them for their dedication and help throughout the year. We thank parents, too, for encouraging their children to serve, and for bringing them to Mass early.
Confirmation (School Year 11, age 15/16)
Pope Francis speaks of young people as “creative” and “bold” and speaks about how your energy, questions and ideas are vital for the Church. He reminds us that young people are “at every moment, infinitely loved.”
We hope that this is the spirit in which we run the Confirmation programme, which you are welcome to join if you are in school Year 11 and above, up to about age 20 (if you are 20+ then have a look at the page, Becoming a Catholic, and please come and have a chat with Fr Dominic).
The programme usually begins in January. In the life of a teenager, and at a time of GCESs, this can be a year of stress and most certainly a time when there are many questions about faith. To join the Confirmation programme you do not have to be perfect, holy, or have your faith sorted out. What we do ask is that you commit to the sessions – 9 in all, including a weekend at Walsingham House at Abbotswick, a sleepout for the homeless, and 7 sessions where we discuss what it means for Jesus to love you, give his life for you, and walk with you each day to enlighten and strengthen you.
For example, a starter question in a session might be, “Do you have more faith in Google or in God?” As we talk about it, we’ll highlight some Bible passages for you, and give you space to share your thoughts, doubts and questions. We’ll look at how our faith can help when we consider issues of racism, climate change, and what it means to protect life from conception to natural death. Above all we will invite you to think about who the person of Jesus Christ is for you, and what it means for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to be confirmed in you.
If you begin the programme and find it is not right for you, there is no pressure to continue. Instead this is an invitation – come and see. It could be a year which transforms the rest of your life.
Young Adult leadership (age 16-26)
Young adults are a precious part of the parish – we try to create many opportunities for you, including opportunities where your gifts are used in leadership. This could be in assisting with parish social media, or with music in the parish. It could be that you help the small children preparing for First Holy Communion, or the teenagers preparing for Confirmation. You might want to read at Mass – it’s a good way to improve confidence and public speaking, as well as getting more familiar with the word of God.
You also need time for yourselves, and we listen to the opportunities you want to create, and do our best to help you with them What charitable work are you passionate about? What changes do you ant to see in the parish? How can we serve you? How can you help us? Contact Fr Dominic and have a chat.
These are also the years when being part of the Brentwood Catholic Youth Service offers lots of opportunities. In recent years young adult parishioners have been part of the Walsingham House Team, and spent time abroad with Cafod. Many young people from the parish have travelled to Lourdes. The BCYS can offer something different from the parish – it is a place where hundreds of young people gather for events. We will do anything we can to help you fundraise, as well as giving you direct financial support, to make sure you can be part of these opportunities. In 2023 there will be a group going to Lisbon, Portugal, to join over a million young people at World Youth Day. Could you be part of that? Have a look at the BCYS website to discover more.