Sacraments are holy, visible signs instituted by Christ of an invisible reality, in which we can experience the healing, forgiving, nourishing, strengthening presence of God that enables us to love in turn. In traditional Catholic theology, the effectiveness of a sacrament depends both on the action of the Spirit and on the response of the person and community celebrating it – as always, a covenant. Sacraments bring the response-ability to live as graced people. From the Essential Catholic Handbook, Liguori and What Makes us Catholic by Thomas H. Groome


Sacraments of Healing

The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation

Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1422

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Examination of Conscience

Anointing of the Sick

Most active Catholics understand that it is not necessary to wait until the hour of death to receive the Anointing of the Sick. The pastor has certainly been happy to respond under those circumstances, but it is taking an unnecessary risk to wait until then to request the Anointing since Catholic priests are spread rather thinly now, and it cannot be promised that the pastor or another priest will always be immediately available, especially on the weekends when they are already scheduled for weekend Masses as well as confessions and very possibly baptisms, weddings, and funerals. The official instruction of our Church for the last fifty years has been that “as soon as any of the faithful  begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for that person to receive the sacrament  has certainly already arrived.”

Further in this same instruction the following circumstances are mentioned: The sacrament may be repeated if the sick person recovers after being anointed and then again falls ill or if during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious. A sick person may be anointed before surgery whenever a serious illness is the reason for the surgery. Elderly people may be anointed if they have become notably weakened even though no serious illness is present. Sick children may be anointed if they have sufficient use of reason to be strengthened by this sacrament.

It is recommended that the celebration of the sacrament be scheduled shortly after the diagnosis is made of a serious illness or condition, or surgery has been scheduled. Perhaps the best routine context is to have the anointing within a weekday Mass when there is an community gathered for prayer, or perhaps after a weekend Mass. A good alternative is at the home or hospital room of the sick person when family and friends can be gathered there, although the sacrament can be prayed privately with a person when necessary.


Sacraments of Initiation

The Sacrament of Baptism

To arrange for an infant Baptism, call the parish office (231) 722-3071 for a schedule of upcoming Baptism classes and when the next Baptism will be offered. Information will be asked to help us complete the necessary paperwork required for our Sacramental records.

One of the questions that we have to field the most often is “What is required to be a godparent?” We are not surprised or distressed by the question. Most of us knew or were taught at one time or another, but like so much else, it can be a piece of information that just does not seem to stick until it has immediate relevance for us. At least when people ask we know that they presume that SOMETHING is required. The following instructions are taken from the introduction to the Catholic Baptism Ritual (the book the priest uses during a baptism):

Godparents are persons, other than the parents of candidates, who are designated by the candidates themselves or by a candidate’s parents or whoever stands in the place of parents. Each candidate may have either a godmother or a godfather or both a godmother and a godfather. Those designated must have the capability and intention of carrying out the responsibility of a godparent and be mature enough to do so (minimally 16 years of age).  Those designated as godparents must have received the three sacraments of initiation, baptism, confirmation, and eucharist, and be living a life consistent with faith and with the responsibility of a godparent. Those designated as godparents must also be members of the Catholic Church and be canonically free to carry out this office. At the request of parents, a baptized and believing Christian not belonging to the Catholic Church may act as a Christian witness along with a Catholic godparent.

An obvious question of course is what does “living a life consistent with faith and with the responsibility of a godparent” mean. Basic decency is obviously presumed, but there are lots of decent people who claim no faith at all. For us Catholics there is nothing more primary to our identity than participation in Sunday Mass. The following is quoted from the latest edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass. The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.

The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God’s holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit

The Sacrament of the Eucharist

The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord’s own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist.

At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 1322 & 1323

The Sacrament of Confirmation

Guidelines for Preparation and Celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation

The Candidate
Each baptized Catholic can and should receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Candidates may request the Sacrament if they:

  1. Are baptized and able to renew baptismal promises
  2. Are open to receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit
  3. Have received their First Communion and are participating in the Sunday Mass and in the sacramental life of the Church
  4. Are willing to commit to active involvement in the parish Confirmation preparation process

Are willing to continue to grow in faith following Confirmation and throughout their lifetime

The Parents or Guardian of the Candidate
Parents/Guardians are called to be actively involved in the Confirmation preparation process. The role of the parents is an extension of the commitment they undertook at their child’s Baptism. Parents must:

  1. Continue their own faith growth
  2. Indicate a willingness to support the candidate’s faith journey
  3. Support their adolescent candidate in choosing a sponsor

Support their candidate in prayer throughout the preparation process

The Parish
Because the parish community has a responsibility to give witness of its faith to the candidates, the community should participate in the preparation and celebration of Confirmation. The parish should:

  1. Be responsible for developing and implementing a preparation process for teens desiring to receive the sacrament of Confirmation

Post-Confirmation, offer opportunities for the newly confirmed to continue to grow in their faith, share their gifts and their faith, and learn more about being Catholic

The Sponsor
Sponsors represent in a personal way the witness and support of the parish community. Sponsors must:

  1. Be at least 16 years of age and may be of either sex (i.e. a female sponsor for a male candidate)
  2. Be practicing Catholics
  3. Have received all of the Sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation)
  4. Be someone who the candidate can identify with in terms of Christian living
  5. Be someone who can share the faith journey of the candidate
  6. Assist in all aspects of the candidate’s preparation and celebration of the sacrament, accompany their candidate to celebrate the sacrament, and continue to support the candidate to fulfill their baptismal promises faithfully under the influence of the Holy Spirit after the reception of the sacrament

Parents may not be sponsors (they already share another relationship with the candidate). It is appropriate that the sponsor be the baptismal Godparent. If that is not possible, the sponsor may be selected by the candidate.

Confirmation Name

  1. The candidate may use his/her baptismal name or choose an additional name

Must be a saint’s name

Candidate’s Dress Code for the Celebration of the Sacrament
Dress modestly and in “Sunday best”
Dress shoes – no sandals, flip-flops or sneakers

Young Men 

  • Dress pants (no jeans or cargo pants)
  • Dress shirts (button with collar)

Necktie encouraged (sport coat/suit optional)

Young Women

  • Dresses or skirts must be an appropriate length to allow one to sit or walk modestly
  • Shoulders must be covered (no spaghetti straps or halter tops)
  • Dress slacks may be worn (no jeans or tight fitting pants)


Sacraments of Vocation

The Sacrament of Matrimony

Catholic weddings are sacramental celebrations of our faith, so of course we presume that at least one of those being married is a currently practicing (weekend church going) member of our parish. Having been brought to church or religious education as a child, even at this parish, is good background information but it does not substitute for an adult decision to continue to practice one’s faith. Also, we need to make sure that the church is available for the weddings of those who are active members. Saturday weddings need to be at 2:00 PM. This allows us to have a funeral in the morning if necessary while still allowing enough time for the church to be cleaned up well before confessions begin at 3:30 PM. Weddings on other days of the week may be scheduled at more varied times. Weddings are not scheduled during Advent and Lent because of the seasons’ penitential spirit (and church décor).

By common agreement all of the Catholic parishes in the state of Michigan require AT LEAST six months be available for a period of marriage preparation. (Some dioceses require more.) We schedule weddings for parishioners on a first come basis, so make sure that you confirm your wedding date with the parish before making contracts with caterers or halls. If you are both practicing Catholics you may have a Mass with your wedding. If one of you is a member of some other denomination, please know that your own minister is most welcome to participate in the ceremony as well. No wedding date is confirmed before the couple meets with the parish priest.

Music: You should contact the Music Director at least three (3) months prior to the wedding. They are the ones responsible for insuring that the musical selections are appropriate for a Catholic sacramental celebration. They can also inform you about the fees for musicians and cantors as well as the arrangements to be made for guest musicians or canters to be included.

Decorations: Flowers are not to be placed on the altar. Flowers left for the parish after the wedding are appreciated and will probably be used in the decoration of the church for the weekend, but they do belong to you and may be taken after the ceremony without embarrassment or explanation. Silk flowers must not be placed near open flames. Aisle runners are discouraged. Sanctuary furniture is not to be moved. You should not plan on throwing rice, bird seed, flower petals, etc. There should be no balloons inside the church. Food and beverages (including chewing gum and water bottles) should not be brought into the church. Limited snacks may be brought into the Bride’s room and Shepherds Hall, but the wedding party is responsible for cleaning up and disposing trash into the trash containers in the room.

Photographs: To better maintain an atmosphere of solemn prayer, only ONE designated photographer is permitted to take flash pictures during the ceremony. They may not stop or interrupt the ceremony in progress. They should plan on being packed up and out of the church by 3:30 PM for Saturday weddings.

Church Stipends: The parish asks for $250 OR 10% of the total spent on flowers and pictures, whichever is LESS. The marriage license and stipends for the parish and music director should be brought to the church office at least one week prior to the wedding.

Pre-Cana Information

Pre-Cana is a course or consultation for couples preparing to be married in a Catholic church. The name is derived from John 2:1–12, the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee, where Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine.
Other marriage references can be found on the Diocese of Grand Rapids website at

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The Sacrament of Holy Orders

Those who receive the sacrament of Holy Orders – as a deacon, priest or bishop – are consecrated in Christ’s name “to feed the Church by the word and the grace of God.”

“The discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God’s call.”  ~ Pope Benedict XVI, Response to questions by the bishops of the United States in Washington, D.C., April 16, 2008.

To learn more about life as a priest, you are invited to talk to the parish priest at (231) 755-1953 x222 or contact Rev. Stephen Durkee Priestly Vocations Director at (616) 475-1254.  You can also visit the Diocese of Grand Rapids website.

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