Baptism and the Community
For us as Catholics, baptism is the sign of our unity with Christ’s community and a witness to our desire to be part of the discipleship of Christ. Just as the birth of a child is important to the entire family, so the baptism of the child is important to the entire parish family. For this reason, the Church suggests that baptism should be celebrated on Sunday so that the members of the parish community can be present. There is also the option of having the baptism after one of the weekend Masses.
We encourage you to schedule your child's baptism three months in advance. We know that this is not always possible, so please do not let time constraints prevent you from contacting us. Baptismal preparation sessions will usually be held monthly for new parents.
To schedule a baptism and to make arrangements for a baptism preparation session, please contact the parish office by calling (479) 452-1795.
Baptism is a beginning! While it can happen only once in a lifetime, it can be renewed over and over again in a person’s life. The baptism of your child is an opportunity to renew your baptismal commitment and celebrate the amazing gift of life that our God shares with us.
Godparents and Sponsors
In the baptism of infants, parents take responsibility for choosing a godparent(s) who will serve as good examples for living the Catholic way of life. It is customary to have two godparents; however, only one is required for baptism. A godparent may be either male or female, but must be a fully initiated Roman Catholic (baptized, confirmed, and receiving the Eucharist). If the godparent is not a registered, active parishioner at Sacred Heart of Mary, they must provide a letter from the pastor of the parish where they do practice their faith stating that they are active, practicing Catholics, and are registered in that parish.
A Christian of another tradition may be chosen as a Christian witness provided there is at least one Catholic godparent.
Godparents should be ready to commit the time and personal care to nurture and support the child and the parent(s). This support should be ongoing throughout the family’s journey of faith.
The Eucharist in the Life of the Community
The Eucharist is at the center of our faith as Catholics and is celebrated at every Mass. In this sacrament, we receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearance of ordinary bread and wine. Christ unites Himself intimately to those who receive the Eucharist, entering our hearts and transforming willing souls into His faithful followers.
Preparation for Children
A child in the process of Christian initiation is led gradually, according to personal capacity, to full participation in the Eucharist. This continuing formation takes place in the midst of the family and parish communities. Children need to be at least 7 years of age and in the second grade by the time classes begin in August/September to be able to receive this sacrament. Because this preparation is an ongoing process, it is mandatory that children regularly attend the classes of formation during the year.
Families are always encouraged to participate in Sacred Heart of Mary's religious education program, and parental involvement is necessary. We provide preparation sessions for parents and children who are ready to celebrate this sacrament within our Parish Religious Education program (PRE). Readiness for this sacrament involves a child desiring to receive Communion, regularly participating in the worship life of the parish, and being involved in ongoing faith formation either in PRE or in a Catholic school. Materials and sessions are age appropriate and also play an important role in assisting parents who are working at home with a child preparing for the sacrament.
For more information, please call the parish office at (479) 452-1795.
Reconciliation: A Healing Process
The sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the sacraments of healing and helps to put us back into right relationship with God through the confession and forgiveness of sin. It is Jesus Christ who, through the person of the priest, forgives the penitent and brings him/her back to Himself. According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, Catholics are required to receive this sacrament at least once a year. If a person is guilty of a mortal sin, he/she should attend this sacrament before receiving Christ in the Eucharist. For an explanation of what constitutes a mortal sin, please read paragraphs 1856-1859 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Before receiving this sacrament, it is necessary to do an examination of conscience. During this process, you will look at God's Law and see where you have strayed from it in your life. Anything you notice while you are examining your conscience that is incompatible with God's Law should be confessed. A form of examination of conscience can be found here. View confession times here.
Preparation for Children
Every child who has reached the age of discretion must be given adequate basic catechesis for the celebration of Penance so that participation in the sacrament may be a free response.
Children are considered ready to celebrate the sacrament of Penance when there is an age-appropriate awareness of their relationship with God and neighbor, knowledge that they can harm this relationship through sin, an experience of contrition for sin and a realization that they need to change their behavior, and an ability to talk with a priest about their sins. Preparation sessions for parents and children who are ready to celebrate this sacrament are usually held in the fall.
Confirmation: The Sacrament of Maturity
Marking the completion of the sacraments of initiation, the sacrament of Confirmation is a celebration of faith and Christian maturity. At the end of the preparation process, candidates must demonstrate commitment, understanding, and a desire to actively participate in the life of the Church.
At Sacred Heart of Mary, the Sacrament of Confirmation is celebrated after the completion of the ninth grade Confirmation class. Candidates must:
* Be baptized and able to renew baptismal promises.
* Exhibit a desire to grow in the faith life and knowledge of the Church.
* Participate in the two year sacramental life of the Church, especially
* Be willing to commit to active involvement in the parish confirmation catechesis.
* Be willing to respond to the call of Christian Service.
* Be willing to continue to learn and grow in faith after Confirmation and
throughout your lifetime.
* Have attained the age of 14 or older at the time of the celebration of the sacrament.
A record of regular attendance of the religious education classes in Catholic school or PRE program is needed before a candidate can be enrolled for Confirmation preparation. It is a two year sacramental process!
The Sacrament of Marriage
“Where love is, God is.”
-1 John 4:15
If you are reading this, likely means you are considering marriage or have become engaged. Congratulations!
We are delighted that you are considering Sacred Heart of Mary Church for your wedding and we look forward to helping you prepare for this very special day.
In the Catholic tradition, marriage is a sacrament. The bride and groom contract their marriage in the presence of God and of the community of faith and become a holy sign of Christ’s love for the Church and of God’s faithful love for the world.
For a marriage to be sacramental, two baptized persons (at least one being Catholic) before an authorized priest and 2 witnesses in a Catholic church:
• freely enter into a vowed commitment of respect, reverence and love.
• make this promise for a lifetime.
• promise fidelity to each other.
• desire that their love be blessed with children and make the commitment to pass on the gift of faith to their children.
Thus the sacrament of marriage becomes a way of life and not just the ceremony on your wedding day. God in Christ is the center of your relationship “in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.”
Frequently Asked Questions
How do we schedule a wedding?
Weddings are usually scheduled on Saturdays (except during Lent) at a time that will allow the priest and the parish to properly prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation scheduled at 4:00 p.m. that afternoon. The engaged couple needs to discuss available dates directly with the pastor. PLEASE do not finalize plans for a reception date/time/site until you are sure you have a date set at the church. In the Diocese of Little Rock, couples are required to contact their pastor 6 months in advance of the planned date.
What do we need to do to prepare for our marriage?
Several things are helpful and/or required to be married at Sacred Heart of Mary:
1) Pray with each other and for each other, and at least attend Sunday Mass regularly
2) An initial meeting with the pastor to provide you with basic information, to determine your freedom to marry in the Church and to finalize your wedding date
3) The Diocese of Little Rock requires every couple seeking marriage to participate in some formal program of marriage preparation, sometimes called “Pre-Cana” These programs are designed to help a couple deepen their understanding of the essential human and Christian aspects of the marriage covenant. To register, please contact the perish office. A schedule of other marriage preparation programs around the Little Rock area is available from the parish office.
4) Every couple is required to take the FOCCUS Inventory, a tool that measures marriage readiness, facilitates couple communication, and promotes mutual understanding on a variety of topics related to marriage. It requires an initial 45 to 60 minute session to take the Inventory and then one or more follow-up meetings with a facilitator once a couple profile is generated from it. Arrangements for this Inventory will be made with the pastor at the initial meeting with him.
5) Certain paperwork is required by the Diocese as well and will be completed in due time during the preparation process.
Given these needed steps, the parish has set a period of at least six months between setting a wedding date and the wedding ceremony itself.
What about planning our wedding ceremony?
Couples may plan to be married at either a Nuptial Mass or a Nuptial Ceremony. Either celebration will be well-planned by the couple, in consultation with the priest who presides, and with the musicians.
The wedding ceremony reflects the personal faith of the couple and the spirituality of their relationship. If the Eucharist is a significant part of your life, it follows that the Nuptial Mass would be the appropriate context for your wedding ceremony.
If you wish to have another priest or deacon from a parish other than Sacred Heart of Mary officiate at your ceremony, you are welcome to do so. The marriage preparation process, however, is still arranged through the pastor of Sacred Heart of Mary.
If one of you is of another Christian tradition or another faith and you would like to have a minister or rabbi of your acquaintance be part of the ceremony, he/she would be most welcome. Please mention this in the early stages of planning so that appropriate arrangements can be made.
The parish will provide you with a wedding ceremony planning book, entitled Together for Life. This will assist you in making choices of readings and prayers that reflect the meaning of your wedding day and its commitment. Within the liturgy, there are several ways for your family members and/or friends to participate: proclaiming the scripture readings, leading the prayers of the faithful or general intercessions, bringing the gifts of bread and wine to the altar, and serving as ministers of communion.
What are the fees?
There is no fee for use of the church by registered parishioners. The suggested offering for the use of the parish hall for receptions or other associated activities is $150.00. A security deposit of $150.00 is required (refundable if no extra maintenance is required afterward). We also ask that you pay for 2 services provided by the church: the musician’s fee ($250), a wedding coordinator to assist you at your rehearsal and the wedding day itself ($100). Therefore, 2 checks, one in the amount of $500.00, and another in the amount of $150 should be made payable to Sacred Heart of Mary Church. Please note that the priest who presides at your ceremony receives none of this fee, so a gift to him may be appropriate. Fees for a marriage preparation program/Pre-Cana and for other musicians are arranged separately. Also, in appreciation to the wedding coordinator, organist, and/or cantor for exceptional service, gratuities may be given at your discretion.
Anything else we should know?
You should know that we never make any arrangements through a third party (for example, parents, an outside wedding planner, and so on). All planning involving a wedding is arranged between the couple and the pastor directly.
You’ll also want to know about flowers, photographers and videographers, programs, rehearsal times, and what is permitted (or not). The pastor or parish wedding coordinator will provide full information and guidelines at their initial meetings with you and are always ready to answer your questions.
Prayer Before Marriage
Source of all love,
your providence has brought us together.
As we prepare for the sacrament of marriage
we pray for your grace,
that, strengthened by your blessing,
we may grow in respect for one another
and cherish each other with a sincere love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
May the God of love and peace
abide in us, guide our steps,
and confirm our hearts in his love,
now and forever.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders:
The Sacrament of Holy Orders is the continuation of Christ’s priesthood, which He bestowed upon His Apostles. There are three levels to this sacrament: the episcopate, the priesthood, and the diaconate.
There is only one Sacrament of Holy Orders, but there are three levels. The first is that which Christ Himself bestowed upon His Apostles: the episcopate. A bishop is a man who is ordained to the episcopate by another bishop (in practice, by several bishops). He stands in a direct, unbroken line from the Apostles, a condition known as "apostolic succession."
Ordination as a bishop confers the grace to sanctify others, as well as the authority to teach the faithful and to bind their consciences. Because of the grave nature of this responsibility, all episcopal ordinations must be approved by the Pope.
The second level of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is the priesthood. No bishop can minister to all of the faithful in his diocese, so priests act, in the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as "co-workers of the bishops." They exercise their powers lawfully only in communion with their bishop, and so they promise obedience to their bishop at the time of their ordination.
The chief duties of the priesthood are the preaching of the Gospel and the offering of the Eucharist.
The third level of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is the diaconate. Deacons assist priests and bishops. Married men are allowed to become permanent deacons.
Anointing of the Sick
Anointing of the Sick: A Sacrament of Healing
“Suffering and illness have always been among the greatest problems that trouble the human spirit. Christians feel and experience pain as do all other people; yet their faith helps them to grasp more deeply the mystery of suffering and to bear their pain with greater courage. From Christ’s words they know that sickness has meaning and value for their own salvation and for the salvation of the world.”
- Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum
Q: How does the Church minister to the sick in the name of Jesus?
A: From the beginning, the Church has imitated her Savior and Lord by extending His ministry with the sick (almost one-third of the gospels are about healing). A simple visit to the sick, on the part of any of us, is an essential element of that ministry because Christ is present with the sick person through us---and through us, they know the care and support of the community of faith.
Often those visits involve the sharing of Holy Communion. A priest, deacon, parish Eucharistic minister to the sick/homebound, or any other specifically designated minister of Communion can offer this ministry to the sick and dying. Of course, the priest may also celebrate Penance and Anointing of the Sick, depending on the situation and needs of the person.
Q: When should someone receive the Sacrament of the Sick?
A: “Great care and concern should be taken to see that those of the faithful whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age receive [the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick]. A prudent or reasonably sure judgment, without scruple, is sufficient for deciding on the seriousness of the illness; if necessary a doctor may be consulted.” This quote is taken from the Introduction to “Pastoral Care of the Sick,” and makes it clear that no one should put off being anointed. However, the Sacrament of the Sick is not the “last rites.”
Q: How is the Sacrament of the Sick different from "last rites?
A: The primary purposes of this sacrament are comfort during illness, strength and courage to face the illness, and a renewal of hope for recovery. In a sense, it consecrates the sick person and everyone and everything related to his/her health care in the hope of healing. The rite, of course, is realistic about our fragile human nature and knows not every illness will end in a cure. So when someone falls seriously ill or notably weakens in their condition, the time has already arrived for the sacrament of anointing. People undergoing serious surgery or seriously ill children who have reached the use of reason may also be anointed.
Q: Then what are “last rites”?
A: If someone has been anointed when an illness began, and perhaps again as the illness worsened, “last rites” would include the sacrament of Penance and Viaticum (meaning “food for the journey”, or Holy Communion before death). Of course, depending on the acute nature of the illness or injury, anointing might be included, but the Church envisions anointing and pastoral care of the sick as separate from pastoral care of the dying.
Father in heaven, through this holy anointing
grant our sister/brother comfort in her/his suffering.
When she/he is afraid, give her/him courage, when afflicted, give her/him patience, when dejected, afford her/him hope, and when alone, assure her/him of the support of your holy people.
-Prayer after Anointing
Q: How and when can the Sacrament of the Sick be arranged?
A: If you or a loved one wishes to receive the Sacrament of the Sick, please contact the pastor at (479) 452-1795.
In case of emergency, the number is the same as the above parish number.
Yes, priests are busy these days, but PLEASE do not hesitate to call and ask for the sacraments of the sick. And please, if at all possible, call sooner rather than later, whatever that means in the particular situation of the sick person. It is easier to arrange to be present in a timely manner if family members or neighbors call at the beginning of the illness rather than at the point of death. But in any event, please call. The sick and dying need the presence of Christ with them as they share in His suffering. We all must take our part in extending that ministry and presence to them.
Q: How do I arrange for communion to be brought to myself or a loved one who is homebound or in a nursing home?
A: If you or a loved one is homebound or in a nursing home and would like to receive Communion, please contact the parish office at (479) 459-1795.
Q: How can I learn more about visiting homebound parishioners?
A: If you would like to learn more about bringing Communion to homebound parishioners, please contact the parish office at (479) 459-1795.
"In bringing communion to them the minister of communion represents Christ and manifests faith and charity on behalf of the whole community toward those who cannot be present at the Eucharist. For the sick the reception of communion is not only a privilege but also a sign of support and concern shown by the Christian community for its members who are ill."
-From the introduction of Communion in Ordinary Circumstances