Sacraments | Hākarameta

Sacraments are visible actions of the Church, such as immersion in water, anointing with oil, or sharing a meal of bread and wine.

Sacraments make the actions and gifts of Jesus present to the Church each time it gathers to celebrate Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Ordination or Matrimony.
Images used with permission.

Baptism | Iriiringa

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God, the Father of all.

The rite of Baptism is the first of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church and marks the beginning of a person’s journey in faith with God. It is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation, which establish the foundations of Christian life. The other Sacraments of Initiation are Confirmation and Eucharist.

Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as a son or daughter of God. In Baptism we become members of Christ and are incorporated into the Church. We become sharers in the mission Jesus gave the Apostles after the Resurrection. “Go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

In the Catholic Church Baptism involves a priest immersing the person in water or pouring water on their head, while invoking the Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Through Baptism, a person is immersed into the death of Christ and rises with him as a “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17) free of sin.

While some people seek Baptism later in life, the majority of Catholics are baptised as a baby or child. While it is an important event in the life of a family, it is more than just a private family celebration. When a child becomes a member of God’s family through Baptism, the Church community commits to supporting the parents and the child in their faith journeys.

In a Baptism ceremony parents renew their own commitment to Christ in the Church, and pledge to live out the ways of Christ in their daily lives. Godparents also renew their commitment to Christ. Godparents are people who have agreed to assist and support the parents in leading the child into the ways of Christ on behalf of the community of believers into which the child is being baptised. For this reason, godparents must be members of the Catholic Church who have themselves received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.


Ideally, preparing parents for the Baptism of their child takes place within the parish community, along with other parents. It can also take place in the parents’ home. A priest, trained lay parish worker or volunteer will conduct the preparation.

For adults seeking Baptism into the Catholic Church there is a process called “The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)”. This initiation process begins with entry into the catechumenate and reaches its culmination in a single celebration of the three Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

Usually, but not always, this takes place during the Vigil Mass on Easter Saturday night.

For more information of Baptism processes and resources in your area, contact your diocese.

A Parent’s Prayer

Heavenly Father
Giver of life and all the gifts we share,
look with love and tenderness on us.
Bless our lives, and help us to reflect the love Christ has for us.
Fill us with your love, and let us bring your light into our family.
Help us to nurture love in our child’s life, and offer guidance on his/her journey of faith.
Bless us, Father, in our own journey, as we give you praise and glory.
We ask this grace through Christ our Lord, in the love of your Spirit,
now and forever. Amen.


Who can be baptised?

Anyone who has not already been baptised can receive the sacrament of Baptism. Baptism is available to any person who has received the Gospel and believes that Jesus Christ is "the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). Baptism is available to the children of believing parents who wish to raise their child in the faith.

What does Baptism achieve?

When we are baptised we become children of God, a new creation and we are welcomed into the family of the Church. Baptism frees us from the influence of all sin and the power of death.

What if one of the parents presenting their child for Baptism is not a Catholic?

During a Baptism ceremony, parents renew their own commitment to the faith by making a Profession of Faith. If one parent is not a Catholic and/or has no religious belief, they must give permission for the child to be instructed in the Catholic faith.

Do there need to be godparents?

Yes. Godparents support the family in nurturing the faith of the child and act as representatives for the Church Community.

Who can be a godparent?

A godparent must be at least 16 years of age, and must have received the three Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist). At a Catholic Baptism godparents agree to assist and support the parents and the child in their faith journeys, on behalf of the Catholic community into which the child is being baptised. For this reason godparents must be Catholic for a child to be baptised into the Catholic faith.

What if the people I want as Godparents are not Catholic?

Catholics believe that Baptism using water and invoking the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit makes all these people brothers and sisters in Christ, whether they are Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox. Therefore a person who has been baptised in another Christian faith using the Trinitarian formula may act as a Christian witness at a Catholic baptism.

Who can baptise?

Normally it is a bishop, priest or deacon who baptises. In an emergency, any Catholic or in fact any person may baptise provided they have the intention of doing what the Church does.

How is baptism administered?

Baptism is administered by pouring water over the head of the baptismal candidate while saying the Trinitarian formula for Baptism: “I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.

How do I find out about adult Baptism?

For adults seeking Baptism into the Catholic Church there is a process called “The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)”. This initiation process is designed for adults who consciously and freely seek to enter the way of faith and conversion in the Catholic community. This process reaches its culmination in a single celebration of the three Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Contact your diocese to find out about Baptism programmes in your area.

What happens in a Baptism ceremony?

Those who are being baptised, their families, friends and the church community gather together. Words of welcome are exchanged and then names that have been chosen for the child are announced. All present unite in the opening prayers, which are followed by the daily scripture reading. More prayers are offered for those who are to be baptised, for their families, friends and all who are present. The baptismal candidate is anointed with Oil of Catechumens as a sign of Christ's power in overcoming evil. All present renew their own baptismal vows. The priest then pours holy water over the forehead of the baptismal candidate three times as he says the words of baptism. The newly baptised is then anointed with Oil of Chrism as a sign of sealing with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Like Christ, the one baptised in now an “anointed one”. He or she is then covered with a white cloth as a sign of being a new creation clothed in Christ. A candle is lit from the paschal or Easter candle to symbolise the light of Christ now present in the newly baptised. There are final prayers and a blessing that all present may love and serve the Lord in peace and goodwill.

Confirmation | Whakapūmautanga

‘Be sealed with the Holy Spirit’

Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist together constitute the sacraments of Christian initiation. Baptism marks the beginning of Christian life; Confirmation brings about a completion of baptismal grace by deepening us in relationship with the Holy Spirit, while Eucharist nourishes the members of the Christian community to live more deeply the Christian way of life.

Like Baptism, which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it is the outward sign that Jesus Christ has sealed us with the gift of his Spirit. Through the presence of this Holy Spirit in our lives, we are empowered to grow, to learn and to change in ways that witness to the Christian way of life.


In the Catholic Church Confirmation is usually administered by the Bishop who lays his hands on each person, anointing their forehead with the oil of chrism as he says “be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit”.

The sign of peace which concludes this rite reflects the ongoing relationship between the bishop, the newly confirmed and all who gather with him as members of Christ’s Body, the Church.

Each person who is confirmed is accompanied by a sponsor – a member of the Christian community who pledges to support them in their ongoing commitment to a more intimate union with Christ, by deepening their familiarity with the gifts, actions and leading of the Holy Spirit. Sponsors may be the same people who originally stood as godparents for them at baptism and now extend their commitment on behalf of the community of believers to support them as they take on the deeper responsibilities of Christian life.

Eucharist | Ūkaritia

"Take, eat; this is my body." ... "Drink from it all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

Matthew 26:27

The word, “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving”. Eucharist completes Christian Initiation. Those who have been initiated into the Christian way of life through Baptism and assented to being more deeply conformed to Christ and the community of the Church through Confirmation are now able to renew their union with Christ through the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Just as daily food nourishes people in their bodily life, communion with the Body and Blood of Christ nourishes the Christian in their spiritual life. Baptism and Confirmation are received once in a lifetime. However the Church strongly encourages the Christian to receive the Eucharist on Sundays, Feast days or even daily. In this way the gifts given and received through Baptism and Confirmation are strengthened and renewed each and every time a person receives Holy Communion. For this reason, Christians think of the Eucharist as the source and summit of the Christian life and describe the gift of Holy Communion as ‘food for the journey’ through life and death into the Communion of Saints in Heaven.

First Holy Communion – that very first time that adults or children receive the Body and Blood of Christ is celebrated with great joy among the community who gathers for this purpose.  Godparents, sponsors and family all gather with the local parish community to celebrate Eucharist on this special occasion, a continuing sign of their ongoing support and encouragement in living the Christian way of life within the Catholic community.

Please contact your local Catholic Parish or Catholic Diocesan Office for more information about preparing to receive this Sacrament.

Reconciliation | Rīpenetā

Repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in His name to all nations.

John 24:47

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the first and primary celebration of healing offered by the Church and regularly celebrated by the baptised as an integral part of their Christian life. In times of illness, the Sacrament of Anointing and prayer for healing is offered, and in the time dying, the rites of Viaticum are used to comfort and strengthen a dying Christian in their passage to eternal life with Christ.

The Sacrament or Rite of Reconciliation (also known as the Sacrament of Penance) gets its name from its central focus on the act of reconciliation as well as the titles given to each of  its several individual parts:

  • Rite I, Rite of Reconciliation of Individual Penitents,
  • Rite II, Rite of Reconciliation of Several Penitents with Individual Confession and Absolution
  • Rite III, Rite of Reconciliation of Several Penitents with General Confession and Absolution

As baptised Christians, we understand that the hidden and gracious mystery of God unites all human beings and all of creation through a supernatural bond. On this basis we understand that one person’s sin harms the rest even as one person’s goodness enriches them. Penance always therefore entails reconciliation with our brothers and sisters who remain harmed by our sins. 


Participation in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is focused on the Word of God. Through listening intently to the scriptures, Christians come to hear God’s call to conversion, to recognise their sins and to know they can choose to change their way of life with confidence in the gifts of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

The action of the Sacrament involves the penitent in sharing their recognition and sorrow for their sin, errors or omissions in living the Christian way of life with the priest who, acting in the person of Christ, listens, supports and speaks assurance of God’s forgiveness. Together the priest and penitent decide on the first steps to amending their life and restoring any order or harm that is required. Through the sacramental sign of Absolution, the priest reminds each person that God has forgiven them and urges them to live more fully in the light and love of Christ, from now on.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is usually offered at regular times as part of every parish timetable.  However, any one in urgent need of this sacrament may contact their parish priest or Catholic chaplain at any time.

Preparation for receiving this Sacrament for the first time is usually made in community with other young people and their families or in the company of other adults who are new to the Church, through the local parish. 

For more information please contact your local parish or diocesan office.

Rites of Anointing | Whakawahi Tūroro

Lord, your friend is sick.

The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is one more assured moment of Christ’s presence and action in our lives, in times of illness and suffering associated with surgery, chronic pain, mental health issues or the fragility of old age. It brings gifts of healing, comfort and peace to Christians who are suffering or sick.  Like the Sacrament of Penance, the other sacrament of healing, these rites seek to restore Christians to the fullness of health and strength to live more fully in the light and love of Christ.

Participation in this sacrament focuses on the Gospel stories of Jesus reaching out with compassion and mercy to the sick and the suffering in order to bring about their healing.  This is why the Church reaches out in a special way to those who are seriously ill, knowing we all need help in this time of anxiety, lest we “be broken in spirit and under the pressure of temptation, perhaps weakened in faith (Pastoral Care of the Sick #40).

The nature of this sacrament is to encourage those who are ill to seek the blessings of good health, and surrounded by members of the community, who themselves offer love, care, compassion, to support them on their journey back to fullness of health and strength.

The celebration of this sacrament consists in offering the prayer of faith, inspired by the words of scripture, the laying on of hands by the priest and the anointing of the sick with oil made holy by God’s blessing and presence with them at this time.

This sacrament may be repeated if the illness persists, or falls ill once again after their recovery.  It is also available to children who are able to understand that Christ seeks to bring them gifts of strength, healing and peace.

Some parishes offer regular Masses to which the sick and frail are invited.  During the celebration of Mass, the Sacrament of Anointing is conferred.  Please approach your local parish or diocesan office for more information.

Family or friends of those who are too sick, frail or incapacitated by illness to attend Mass, are encouraged to contact their parish or hospital chaplain and, with the permission of the sick person, ask for their anointing.

When illness or accident renders a person unconscious or they become so severely ill that their life is in danger, they may be anointed and offered Viaticum for the Dying. 

Information about pastoral care for the Dying is offered on a separate page.

Rites of Viaticum

I am going to prepare a place for you; I shall come back and take you with me.

The word viaticum translates as “food for the journey” and refers to the rite of communion with the Christian who is dying and therefore on their journey to eternal life with Christ.

While the celebration of Viaticum belongs to the many rites of Pastoral Care of the Sick, it is the primary sacrament for the dying.  This sacrament may be offered to one who is approaching death, but still well enough to appreciate the various dimensions of its celebration.  This celebration may  be adapted for the Christian who is no longer able to receive communion and is near death by offering prayers which ask God to strengthen the person on their journey into eternal life. 

The nature of this sacrament is to strengthen the dying Christian on their passage from this life into the eternal life of Christ in the presence of family, friends and those who have gathered with them at this time.

The celebration of this sacrament begins with a sprinkling of blessed water to recall the waters of baptism.  The proclamation of the word recalls the newness of life in God and the promise of Jesus to give us eternal life.  It is followed by the renewal of baptismal promises.  Communion is offered as viaticum and uses prayers which ask God to strengthen the person who is dying on their journey to eternal life.  There is a sense of the church on earth accompanying this person on their last journey before commending them to the communion of saints who have gone before us – heaven and earth are witness to this journey.

Viaticum outside Mass does not require a priest but may be given by a lay chaplain or minister of communion.  A dying person may receive viaticum daily.

When the one who is dying is no longer able to receive communion and is near death, the rite of prayers for the commendation of the dying may be used.  The ritual also provides prayers for use after death has occurred.

Matrimony | Mārenatanga

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the Church

Ephesians 5:25

Christians share in the life of the Risen Christ through baptism. When they give themselves to each other in marriage they are taking on Christ’s willingness to live a life of love publically, faithfully and enduringly. Therefore the love between two married Christians is a sign of Jesus’ love for the Church and makes that love present and active in the community of the family, sometimes described as ‘the domestic church’ and in the community of the Church, the Body of Christ.

The couple who marry receive from the Lord the grace and responsibility to love each other always, to be faithful to each other, to sustain the bond of their love through good times and bad, and to give life and nurture to the children they may conceive.

The celebration of marriage is always based on the mutual commitment of each person to give themselves willingly and freely to living the marriage covenant of faithful and fruitful love.

The church’s way of celebrating this significant beginning of new life together offers many gifts. It provides for a dignified ceremony, warm yet solemn, worthy of the occasion. In its words, actions and symbols it encourages reflection on Christian marriage, both by the couple in their preparation and in the celebration, and also by all who participate in the ceremony. Christian marriage invites us to look deeply at God’s love for us, to see in that love a mirror of what human love may aspire to become because God’s love is embodied in the couple who marry.

The Liturgy of Marriage

The three forms of the order of Christian Matrimony are:

  1. The Order for Celebrating Marriage during Mass
  2. The Order of Celebrating Marriage outside of Mass
  3. The Order of celebrating Marriage between a Catholic and an Unbaptised person

Care needs to be taken that the appropriate form is chosen in each case. The charism, dignity and culture of each person is to be respected and acknowledged.

Couples are strongly encouraged to actively participate in the preparation for their marriage ceremony by choosing from the wide range of texts, readings and hymns offered to them. Early contact with diocesan Marriage Preparation Co-ordinators and with the priest and parish where they wish to be married will enable them to come together with family and friends to celebrate a ceremony that is truly worthy of their love and the covenant they are about to enter into.


The Order of Christian Marriage

Exploring the Liturgy, Module 5, Celebrating Christian Life, The Rite of Marriage

Holy Orders | Raupapa Tapu

Whoever wishes to be great among you, must be your servant.
Matthew 20:26

The community of the baptised is the Body of Christ.  As such, the whole church shares in the nature and tasks of Christ our head.  This includes sharing in his priesthood.  But beyond this “common priesthood of the faithful” shared among all the baptised, lies a ministerial priesthood that ordains men to ministerial priesthood through the sacrament of holy orders. 

The church is an ordered body.  While its members serve one another and the world in a variety of ways, some are ordained to act in the person of Christ.  As teachers, pastors and priests they oversee the good order of the church.

Ordination occurs within the celebration of Mass.  There is a common pattern.  Those to be ordained are called forth by name and presented for ordination.  The assembly gives its assent.  The rites continue with a litany of the saints, the laying on of hands, and the prayer of ordination in which the Spirit is called down upon the ordinand, as on the couple in marriage or on the waters of baptism.

The Bishop

When a bishop is ordained, he receives the fullness of priestly ministry.  Bishops are the principal leaders who are in communion with the bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter, and with each other.  In union with their college of presbyters, each oversees a diocese.  They participate in Christ’s role of teacher, shepherd and priest.

The Priest

Priests are co-workers with their bishop for the good of the diocese.  They share with the bishop in Christs’ roles of teacher, pastor and priest wherever they are sent to minister to Christ’s body.

The Deacon

In communion with the bishop and priests, a deacon serves the body of Christ by prayer, by proclaiming the gospel in the liturgy, by catechising, by presiding at weddings and funerals in the absence of a priest and in the ministry of charity.  Most deacons in New Zealand are preparing to go on to priesthood.  However, in New Zealand we also have a body of permanent deacons.  These men may assist in liturgies as described above or fulfil a particular role in chaplaincy in prisons, hospitals or rural ministry as requested by their bishop.  This ministry is open to married men.


The Order of Christian Ordination

Exploring the Liturgy, Module 5, Celebrating Christian Life, The Rites of Ordination