A young Sacred Heart College girl is drawing on the memory of her late grandmother to take the next step forward in her faith.
Fourteen-year-old Sophie Richardson will follow in the tradition of girls past and present when she takes her First Holy Communion and Baptism next month.
Aside from her grandmother, Sophie says the motivation behind her decision was to “feel closer to God and the school” but also to “get a better understanding of everything”.
Before starting college in January, Sophie says she “didn’t know a single bit” about Catholicism but is glad she has had the opportunity to learn more.
Her immediate family (parents and younger brother) are not religious, they are supportive of her decision.
While her paternal grandmother sadly passed away earlier this year, she knew of her granddaughter’s plans. “She was really excited”.
Despite deciding earlier in the year, Covid-19 has delayed her plans. Sophie will be joined by Cara Kuzman, who is taking her First Holy Communion. They will receive their Sacraments at 10am mass on Sunday, November 15.
Director of Religious Studies Mr Tom Silverwood said the school’s sacramental programme allows students who wish to take up the Sacraments of Initiation, to do so.
These include the three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist (First Holy Communion).
Once they decide, Mr Silverwood, with input from Youth Minister Victoria Vo, take the students through a seven-week programme delving deeper into the meaning behind what they are about to embark on.
He says at every step of the way parents are informed and encouraged to speak to their daughters about their decision. “I very much try and get the parents involved as well so it’s not just a school thing.”
Three years ago Kelsie Hawkins and Tiger Dassefa took the Sacraments of Initiation.
As Kelsie had already been baptised as a child, she did her Confirmation and First Holy Communion. Whereas Tiger did all three.
Now in year 13, they don’t regret their decision and believe they have grown considerably in their faith.
“Even before, our faith was pretty strong and we were so dedicated to fully committing to the Church but after actually doing it, it just solidified it even more,” Tiger said.
It was an assessment on Sacraments in Religious Studies which piqued their interest and gave them a deeper understanding. The programme with Father Barry and the school also meant they “weren’t just jumping into it”.
“I think doing it at our age is better because it means that we genuinely believe what we’re doing,” Tiger said. Kelsey agreed.
“I do think it is more beneficial for girls to know that that’s what they want to do certainly before they jump into doing it. I guess that’s why it was good for us to have the lessons and to be that little bit older.”
Both of them would recommend other students looking into the sacraments at the very least.
In the school environment, both girls found they grew closer with the students from SHC and their brother school St. John’s College who did it at the same time.
“I think that’s a cool aspect of it because it is nice to have people in the same boat as you,” Tiger said.
Mr Silverwood has been in the Religious Education field for the past 24 years, but at SHC since this year.
One key difference this year is that the Sacramental programme, which in the past has been run in the Parish is now being run out of the school.
Once it is completed, students will then receive their Sacraments at the Parish by the Parish Priest.
"That’s the big thing and a bit of a shift for the Parish just to have confidence in the school that we will do a good job and I think the girls find it easier when it's among their own peers," he said.
The girls will receive their Sacraments at 10am mass on Sunday, November 15.