We recognize that the Sacraments have a visible and invisible reality, a reality open to all the human senses but grasped in its God-given depths with the eyes of faith. When parents hug their children, for example, the visible reality we see is the hug. The invisible reality the hug conveys is love. We cannot “see” the love the hug expresses, though sometimes we can see its nurturing effect in the child.
The visible reality we see in the Sacraments is their outward expression, the form they take, and the way in which they are administered and received. The invisible reality we cannot “see” is God’s grace, his gracious initiative in redeeming us through the death and Resurrection of his Son. His initiative is called grace because it is the free and loving gift by which he offers people a share in his life, and shows us his favor and will for our salvation. Our response to the grace of God’s initiative is itself a grace or gift from God by which we can imitate Christ in our daily lives.
The saving words and deeds of Jesus Christ are the foundation of what he would communicate in the Sacraments through the ministers of the Church. Guided by the Holy Spirit, the Church recognizes the existence of Seven Sacraments instituted by the Lord. They are the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist), the Sacraments of Healing (Penance and the Anointing of the Sick), and the Sacraments at the Service of Communion (Marriage and Holy Orders). Through the Sacraments, God shares his holiness with us so that we, in turn, can make the world holier.
Sacramental to Preparation
Sacrament Preparation is a wonderful and special time in the lives of the faithful. The community of St Francis Xavier is pleased and blessed to help and guide individuals and families through the process. We help the community to encounter the Lord in the work of the Holy Spirit through its ministers. It is the grace of the Holy Spirit that awakens our faith, converts our hearts, and leads us to adhere to the Father’s Will. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that we must be “well disposed” to receive the Lord’s grace in His sacraments. These dispositions are the preconditions both for the reception of other graces conferred in the celebration itself and the fruits of new life which the celebration is intended to produce afterward. (CCC, 1098)
NOTE: CHILDREN MUST:
- Attend one year of faith formation (PSR or a Catholic school) immediately prior to the year of preparation with good attendance (at least 70%).
- Be enrolled in PSR or attend a Catholic school the year of preparation.
- Be enrolled in Sacrament Preparation for the sacrament(s) they need to receive. This requires an additional form when registering for PSR. Parents are required to attend meetings specific to the sacrament(s).
For all questions regarding the celebration of sacraments, contact your priests or deacons. The Church Office phone is 912-265-3249.
For infants and children under the age of 8, the Sacrament of Baptism is celebrated at a Sunday Liturgy or after Mass. Please contact us in the Church Office to schedule a preparation class and a date for the baptism celebration. Adults and older children are welcomed into the Church through the RCIA program.
Priests are available for Confession on Saturday afternoons from 4:00 – 4:45 pm, Wednesday evenings from 6:00 – 6:45 pm, Sunday mornings from 7:45 to 8:15 am, or by appointment through the parish office. Twice a year – during Advent and Lent – priests are available for a Communal Celebration of the Sacrament. Children are prepared to celebrate their First Reconciliation through our school and through our PSR program. We celebrate the sacrament on a Saturday in Advent.
Generally, preparations are made for the reception of First Communion through our Sunday Parish School of Religion (PSR) program (Sunday mornings from 9:30 am to 10:45 am during the school year). Second Grade students spend the year preparing for the reception of First Communion and First Reconciliation.
Children in Ninth Grade are prepared for Confirmation through our Religion PSR program. High School students desiring to be confirmed meet for Monday Evening classes beginning in January and running for about nine weeks. The celebration of the Sacrament usually happens either just before Easter or just after, depending on the availability of the Bishop.
This sacrament is for people who are seriously ill or of advanced age, those who have suffered significant limitations, whether physical or psychological or those who are preparing for surgery in the near future. The priests are available at any time of need.
We advise you to begin this process at least six months prior to your expected wedding date. Contact the Church Office, 912-265-3249. You will be directed to the pastor, the parochial vicar, or the deacon. The priest or deacon will meet with the two of you, arrange for the church to be reserved, and follow through on the paperwork and other necessary matters.
Preparing for Marriage
Welcome and congratulations on your engagement. We hope we can be helpful to you as you nurture your growing commitment to one another and prepare for your wedding. Two basic themes shape marriage preparation programs in the church: the maturity and the readiness of the couple to become married, and the willingness of the couple (when both are Christians) to live their lives in conformity to Jesus in the community of faith.
We advise you to begin this process at least six months prior to your expected wedding date. Contact the Church Office, 912-265-3249. You will be directed to the pastor, the parochial vicar, or the deacon. The priest or deacon will meet with the two of you, arrange for the church to be reserved, and follow through on the paperwork and other necessary matters. When meeting a couple who wish to marry in the church, a priest or deacon must ask, “Were either of you ever under any circumstances previously married?” If either party has been married before, the church will need to look at the circumstances of that marriage. That “look” may involve some time or it may be resolved fairly quickly. No firm date for a wedding can be set until there is a resolution of the matter.
Couples must complete a formal marriage preparation program. At St Francis Xavier we use the FOCCUS Inventory. The couple, separately, completes a questionnaire then meets with the priest/deacon for several sessions. The couple will then attend a Pre-Cana Retreat conducted by the Diocese of Savannah. Once preparations for the marriage and the paperwork are completed the priest/deacon will look at the wedding liturgy with the couple. Catholic couples are normally married during a Nuptial Mass. Interfaith couples will normally elect to celebrate the marriage with a Scripture/Wedding Service with no Mass.
Family or funeral homes should contact the Church office to set up dates and times for funerals. The Church Office will work with the family and the funeral home.
Each one of us has been created by God’s infinite love, and because of this, we will only experience life to the fullest and find true happiness when we live in union with God. Being united to Jesus makes us happy, and by remaining in Him, we are able to find purpose and direction. In other words, by having a strong relationship with Jesus we find our vocation.
Prayer is where our relationship with Jesus unfolds and is strengthened. From this relationship flows our identity as God’s beloved sons and daughters, and this identity moves us into action. If there is no prayer, our identity will be weak and we will not know in what direction to point our lives. When it comes to discerning God’s will, there is one person who desperately wants to tell us God’s will in our lives: God Himself! We must seek Him in prayer and strengthen our relationship with Jesus there. All pressure or anxiety regarding the finding of one’s vocation disappears when one leads a life of prayer since it is there, in prayer, that Jesus pours out His love and manifests His will.
In a time when Pope Francis is challenging the whole Church to live out its missionary spirit, the Pope reminded a group of seminarians last year that the secret to the fruitfulness of a disciple of the Lord is to “let your heart be more closely united to Christ’s heart, full of mercy and love.” Without a constant relationship with Jesus, we lose direction, and the mission of the Church to preach the Gospel is lessened to mere activism and a human enterprise. Pope Francis is calling men willing to embrace simplicity of life, show solidarity with the poor and marginalized, and most especially, men who are prayerful with hearts seeking to be united to Jesus Christ.
God has created each one of us and calls us to do great things. In prayer, He shows us each our unique call or vocation so that we may find fulfillment and happiness. We pray that God will send us many holy priests and religious women by opening the hearts of many to hear the call and to answer courageously.
If you are interested in learning more about a religious vocation or feel that you are being called by God, please contact a priest or visit the Diocese of Savannah’s vocations page here.