Diocesan policies and parish policies

To understand what is required for the reception of sacraments, in particular First Penance, First Communion (Eucharist) and Confirmation, it is necessary to know something about how the process for reception is governed.

The reception of Sacraments in the diocese of Erie is governed by several inter-related groups. The guidelines of the Church for the reception of Sacraments are interpreted for parishes by the Bishop of the Diocese and are available as diocesan poliacies.  It is the intention of the Bishop that these policies be followed in every parish in the diocese. 

An important insight into this process for parents however, is that the Bishop does not control every aspect of the celebration of sacraments in the parish. The proper role of the pastor of a parish is to see that guidelines from the Church are followed in the parish but with respect to the needs of the community being served.  For example, the Church says that people need to be properly prepared for the reception of a sacrament and this is acknowledged in diocesan policies.  It is the responsibility of the local pastor to decide how this proper preparation is to be carried out.

There are areas in these guidelines where the local pastor has significant ability to make decisions and other areas where there is little discretion at the local parish level.

Understanding that the guidelines you are asked to follow for the reception of sacraments come from two sources may help you decide who you should ask when questions about individual situations arise. Below you will find a link to diocesan policies for the reception of Sacraments.  Parishes should have a written list of parish policies that govern the reception of Sacraments. These were compiled when the parish completed its Self-Study and Assessment Process.  These policies are often published in the parish Religious Education Handbook that you can obtain from your parish religious education leader.

Click here to read Diocesan policies for the reception of the following sacraments.

  • First Penance.
  • First Communion (Eucharist).
  • Confirmation.