Christian Formation: Sacraments of the Church

Sacraments of the Church: What are they and how do I receive them?

The sacraments are instituted by Jesus Christ as the means God uses to bring us to salvation.  The sacraments are visible signs and instruments of God’s invisible power and grace.  They make concrete the power of God in our lives. There are seven sacraments in the Catholic Church:


“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them
to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19-20)

In Baptism we are born again by water and spirit to be forgiven of sin and reborn as sons and daughters of God.  Through this beautiful sacrament, we become members of the Church and share in its mission - to spread the Gospel through our lives in the world. Baptism is only given once and imparts an indelible spiritual mark that can never be erased.

Catholics will most often be baptized as infants. When a baby is baptized the parents and godparents speak for the child, expressing the desire for baptism. Infant baptism emphasizes Christ’s desire to “let the little ones come to me” and emphasizes the important role of family and community in our life of faith.

Some people are also baptized as adults through a special process called Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. This beautiful journey introduces you to Christ and the faith community, who walks with you as you grow in faith and seek Baptism at Easter.

Interested in having your child baptized?
Congratulations on your new baby! Those parents interested in having their child baptized at our parish must become registered members of the parish, or have permission from our parish and their home parish to have their child baptized here. For a first child, parents must attend a baptism prep session. Plan ahead! You are encouraged to begin the baptism preparation process before you have your baby. You can spiritually prepare for your little one's arrival before his/her birth!

Baptism Preparation Sessions - Monthly on Monday at 6:30 p.m.
For a first child, parents must attend a baptism preparation session. Sessions are held at the Old Saint Mary Parish Center, 835 N. Milwaukee Street, Milwaukee WI from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. You can register for an upcoming session at At this session we walk throught the rite of baptism and lay our the process for scheduling a baptism within our family of parishes. If you have any questions, please contact Rachel McGrew at or call 414-962-2443 x19. If you are unable to make a Monday night work, you may contact Rachel to set up an individual meeting.

Scheduling a Baptism at Old St. Mary Parish
To begin the process to have your baby baptized, contact the Old St. Mary Parish Office by calling 414-271-6180. 

Please note that in observance of the penitential season, there are no baptisms done during Lent, except in cases of emergency. During Advent, baptisms are not done during Mass.

Are you an adult interested in being baptized?
Every year adults are welcomed into the Catholic Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). RCIA is the preparation process for people interested in being fully initiated into the Catholic Church. Through prayer, worship, classes on Catholic basics, and Bible study, members of the RCIA seek the living God and grow in faith together with the Old St. Mary Parish community and worldwide Catholic Church.

The process begins in early September and runs through June. Celebration of Baptism and the other sacraments of initiation are held at the Easter Vigil.  

Call anytime during the year to get started or for more information.
The RCIA is a process of seeking and growth. We invite you to check it out. You don’t have to be sure you want to finish the process to join us. Put on Christ ~ all interested people are welcome!

For more information, call Chad Griesel, our Director of Adult Faith Formation at the parish office ~ 414-271-6180 ext. 111, or email Chad at

The Sacrament of Confirmation

“Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God,
they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they
might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they
had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 
Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit” 
(Acts 8:14-17).

The Sacrament of Confirmation is a strengthening of the graces received in Baptism - just as the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are strengthened in those who receive Confirmation, so that they are better able to witness to Christ in the world.  Confirmation completes our initiation into the Church and strengthens us for our Christian life.

Young Adult Confirmation Preparation for Teens

Confirmation preparation for youth (those in high school) in our parish is done at Eastside Child and Youth Ministry (ESCYM).  For more information, contact Ralph Stewart at 414-263-8230 or

Adult Confirmation

For those adults already joined to Christ in Baptism and the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Confirmation deepens and strengthens our relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit.  This Sacrament imparts many spiritual gifts that help us live our Christian lives and be witnesses to Christ in the world.  The process to prepare for Adult Confirmation begins in January, and Confirmation is received at Pentecost. 

For more information contact the parish office at 414-271-6180.

The Holy Eucharist

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever;
he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life and…abides in me, and I in him” (John 6:51, 54, 56).

The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Church’s life.  In the Eucharist, the Church is joined to the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, partakes of Christ’s Body and Blood, and is brought into communion with Christ and one another.  In the Eucharist, the Lord is present in a true, real and substantial manner in his Body, Blood, soul and divinity.  Because Christ himself is present in this sacrament, it is to be honored with the worship of adoration.

For the guidelines on receiving communion, go to

Preparation for First Communion for Children

Parents interested in finding out more about First Communion for their children should call Ken Gardinier at 414-271-6180 ext. 113 or email to

The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance or Confession)

“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week,” Jesus showed himself to his apostles. “He breathed on them, and said to them: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (Jn 20:19, 22-23).

The Sacrament of Reconciliation (also called “Confession” or “Penance”) is a beautiful encounter with our Lord and the Church, in which the mercy of God is poured out for us, and we received forgiveness for our sin.  Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God forgives our sin, and we also are reconciled with the entire Church.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation can be received on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays - 11:30 a.m. before the 12:05pm daily Mass. 

Preparation for First Reconciliation for Children

First Reconciliation preparation is done through the Religious Education Program.  Please contact Ken Gardinier at 414-271-6180 ext. 113  or email to

Anointing of the Sick

“Is any among you sick? Let him call the presbyters of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15).
The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick gives those experiencing the difficulties inherent in grave illness or advancement of years special grace and comfort.  Each time someone falls seriously ill, he or she is encouraged to receive this sacrament, and he or she may receive it again each time the illness worsens. The strength and peace of the Lord that may be received in this sacrament helps the ill to be united to Christ during their trials.

The Sacrament of Marriage

“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament” (Gaudium et Spes, 48).

The Sacrament of Marriage is the sacrament by which a man and a woman pledge a lifelong commitment to one another, and which God joins them together by an unbreakable bond.  A couple discerns marriage over a period of time, and can come to see that God wills that they spend their lives together, helping one another grow in holiness and living in service to their family and the world.

The preparation process to receive the sacrament of marriage helps a couple grow in love for one another, and open their lives to God’s love and grace.

To be married at our parish, one or both of the couple must be registered, practicing members of Old Saint Mary Catholic Parish.  If you are a member of another Catholic parish, a letter of parish membership and permission from your pastor is necessary.

Each couple must meet with the pastor before a wedding date can be set.  For more information, please contact the parish office at 414-271-6180. 

The Sacrament of Holy Orders

“Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and deaconate”
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1536). 

The Sacrament of Holy Orders ordains those men who have been called by God to receive it to be a deacon, priest, or bishop.

For more information on vocations to the deaconate and priesthood in the Church, go to .