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On the evening of the first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when he said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

John 20:19, 22-23

Those who approach the Sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from sins through God’s mercy. In sin, God’s honor and love is wounded; the sinner’s own dignity as a child of God is wounded; and the spiritual well-being of the Church is wounded. The effects of the Sacrament of Penance are reconciliation with God by which the believer receives a forgiving and strengthening grace; reconciliation with the Church; remission of eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins; peace and serenity of conscience; and an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle against evil. In this sacrament of conversion and repentance, the sinner possesses sorrow for sins committed and the firm purpose of sinning no more. The believer is nourished by hope in God’s mercy.

Catechism of the Catholic Church Numbers 1486-1487, 1490, 1496

The Sacrament of Penance consists of the penitent’s repentance (strengthened by an examination of conscience), confession of sins to a priest, the intention to make reparation and do works of reparation. The confessor, the priest, proposes the performance of certain acts of satisfaction or penance to be performed by the penitent in order to repair the harm caused by sin and to re-establish habits befitting a disciple of Christ. The priest gives absolution from sin in the name of Jesus Christ. Believers are encouraged to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance often. One must approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation when there is mortal, serious sin to be confessed.

Catechism of the Catholic Church Numbers 1491, 1494-1495

How to Prepare for First Reconciliation at the Cathedral Parish


  • In addition to classes at Altoona Central Catholic School and the Religious Education Program, candidates and parents must attend three (3) formation sessions conducted in the Seton Suite (Fourteenth Street) October through December from 6:30P.M. to 8:00P.M.
  • Three Sessions:
    • Session One: Children and parents split in two groups
      • Children take part in exercise on sacraments and Ten Commandments
      • Parents discuss history and theology of the Sacrament of Penance
      • Responsibilities of parents are discussed
      • Children and parents come together to discuss forgiveness
      • Rite of Blessing of Candidates is celebrated
    • Session Two: Candidates and parents watch First Penance DVD on sin and right choices
      • Candidates and parents together discuss sinfulness and God’s mercy
      • A close look at the Examination of Conscience
      • Review the Ten Commandments with examples from children
    • Session Three: Instruction on how to go to Confession
      • Discuss the penance given by the priest
      • Review the Act of Contrition/Prayer of Sorrow
      • Tour of Reconciliation Room in Cathedral


  • Is baptized Catholic. If baptized at church other than Cathedral, a baptismal certificate must be provided. Parent can call church of baptism and request this certificate. When calling church of baptism, give name of child, date of birth, and parents’ names.
  • Is at least seven years of age
  • Has at least one year of religious education prior to reception of First Penance
  • Is a registered parishioner of Cathedral Parish. Otherwise, permission must be given by their pastor to celebrate First Reconciliation at the Cathedral Parish

First Penance celebrated at Cathedral Parish Communal Advent Penance Service, a Wednesday evening in Advent at 6:30 P.M. The date will be announced at first session in October. Candidates bring their Baptismal Candle to light from the Paschal Candle. If this candle is not available, the Parish will supply the candidate with a candle.

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