Sacred Heart Catholic Church (Camberwell)
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Sacred Heart Catholic Church (Camberwell)
St. Mary's Catholic Church (Croydon)


Sacraments are an integral part of the life of every Catholic. They mark the beginning and the end of our lives and make up the framework of our worship life. They renew us, are milestones in our lives and ensure we can have the clergy we need to be fully nourished in our sacramental lives.

Because they are able to do so many things, it is difficult to offer a simple description that encompasses all of what the sacraments are, so the definitions both enlighten and complicate things for us. Here is a quote from the Catechism, "The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.

This basically means that Sacraments are gifts from God to us, that they are sources and signs of God’s Grace and that they give very specific gifts and graces that God wants us to have. Therefore, each Sacrament does something for us and to us that God has defined as being important to us - they are part of our way to salvation.

The best way to explain what this means is to look at each Sacrament in turn and ask what it does and what it might mean to us.

The Sacrament of Baptism

It is the gateway to our Life with Christ; through it we are cleansed of original sin and brought into new life. As a child, we can receive this Sacrament and our family, friends and the community of the Church take part in welcoming us and promising to protect, guide and teach us as we grow in this family of God. As an adult being baptised, we will also make that commitment ourselves, as part of the sacrament. The Church recognises baptisms performed within all of the Christian denominations, so, if you are baptised and want to become a Catholic you will not need to be “re-baptised”. You are already a child of God!

Baptism is usually most thought of in the context of water and being washed clean. The role  water is given in Baptism is deeper than simply cleaning. In early Baptisms you were originally submerged three times in the water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and when you emerged from the water it was very much like being reborn into the world. During the Sacrament, you are also anointed with oil as a priest, a prophet and a king and you are called to live your life in these three roles. Serving, teaching and loving as a priest, telling the truth and being open to God’s Word as a prophet and taking responsibility for yourself and others in living properly, responsibly and justly as a king.

At Sacred Heart Baptism preparation runs once a month in the Church. If you are considering baptising your child please first speak to one of the clergy before coming on the course. If you are an adult preparing to be received into the Church you will learn about all of this during your time on the RCIA course. If you have not been baptised, your preparation for this wonderful Sacrament will be taken care of by the RCIA team too.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession

is another gift given to us by God through Jesus Christ. We are all sinners yet God offers us unconditional love and through his forgiveness we can be freed from our sins. Although it is often referred to a “Confession” this is only part of what God offers and expects from us. To be freed from sin we need to confess what we have done, but we must be truly sorry and seek to make good what we have broken. Penance is part of that requirement ,where we spend time healing ourselves, but we must undertake to try to stop sinning and also make amends for the hurt we have caused. The gift of forgiveness comes with the understanding that we are responsible for our own actions and must accept that responsibility.

It is the Sacrament in which God forgives our sins. Christ, present in the priest, offers us the peace and joy of living in grace, and the guidance to live close to him. Unlike Baptism, it is one of the Sacraments that Catholics receive many times throughout their lives.

In Sacred Heart Confessions  are heard on Saturday from 10:30 - 11:30am and from 5:00 - 5:45pm

If you need this Sacrament at any other time, please call and speak to a priest.

First Confessions are held shortly before First Holy Communions and will be part of the programme for all those taking part in that special occasion. Special arrangements will be made for adults being received into the Church.

The Sacrament of the Eucharist or Holy Communion

is a gift we can receive every day throughout our lives. It is our most familiar Sacrament yet the most complex and mysterious.

It is the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood in the bread and wine transformed by God during the Holy Mass. It sustains us and is at the heart of our spiritual and every day life, yet the miracle that happens before us is new and startling each and every time. It was instituted at Christ’s last supper before he was crucified and rose again. It is our gateway to that supper and to Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. It is a real and direct link to those events and through it we are blessed with the real presence of Christ in this Holy Sacrament. It is also why we can, with complete certainty, know that Christ stays with us in the Eucharist retained within the Tabernacle (why else would we kneel before that small compartment on the altar?) and it is why we can all take part in Eucharistic Adoration.  

Many people throughout the ages have contemplated, discussed and explored the meaning of the Eucharist. We can all spend time in this, too, but there are two things we can do that will help us in our daily lives and in our endeavours to understand this Gift more fully.

All we need to do is accept the truth of it and believe.

Receiving the Eucharist for the first time is a very special occasion for all Catholics, regardless of their age. It is a real milestone in our lives and a gateway through to greater involvement in the Church as well as to a more intimate and deepened relationship with God.

At Sacred Heart First Holy Communion preparations start for those children attending non-Catholic schools in September every year. Please keep an eye on the newsletter and on this website for new course start dates. For adults the RCIA programme will guide you through the process.

The Sacrament of Confirmation

is often described as the logical step on from Baptism but this does not do either Sacrament proper justice. Both are about transformation and being received into the family of God but they each have their own purpose and grace. Confirmation is  like having your own personal Pentecost. You receive the Holy Spirit and become an active, responsible adult in the Church. You are required to be more aware of your faith and what it means to you and to respond to that knowledge throughout your life. You spend time learning and reflecting on what this means to you and openly choose to accept your new role in the church and accept the Holy Spirit to give you that new life.  You become a messenger of that Good News and, with the Spirit’s help, you can begin to take on new roles as an adult within the Church.

Our Confirmation program for the current year is now in progress. The program runs usually from January to October. Please watch out for the dates for the next years program on the website and the newsletter.

The Sacrament of Marriage

is different from the legal contract of the same name. In order to enjoy the legal benefits of marriage in our society you need to become officially married and to enjoy the benefits of being joined, man and woman, in the eyes of the Church with God’s full blessings, you need to be married through the blessed Sacrament. The modern process of preparation for this sacrament is well worth investing in and will give you both a good insight into what Marriage means within your faith life as well as for the two of you as a married couple ready to spend the rest of your lives together. The Sacrament is another milestone in our lives or another threshold we can cross into a new way of living and sharing.

If you are thinking of getting married at Sacred Heart it would be a good idea first to meet with one of the priests of the parish and discuss your requirements and the arrangements to be made. You need to give 6 months notice for your marriage, so that all documentation and marriage preparation courses can be arranged. You also need to register your marriage at the Southwark Register of Births, Death and Marriages. It is also a good idea to take a look at the marriage care and engaged encounter web sites for further information.

The Sacrament of the Sick 

was mainly known as “Extreme Unction” or as the “Last Rites”. This is a sacrament that was reserved for those who were dying. Now the church understands that any body who is gravely ill, and has been ill for a very long time, be it physical or otherwise, can receive this sacrament. The parish also has a mass for the sick where the sick and housebound are brought to the church and all are anointed and prayed upon during Mass. We at Sacred Heart care for those who are sick and housebound through a great network of Eucharistic ministers working alongside the clergy. If you feel you or your loved one could benefit from the sacrament of the sick, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders\Priesthood 

is the sacrament through which Christ continues his work in the church. God is ever calling men and women to work for him. John Paul II said that all young people should examine this call, All are called to serve in some special way; some are called to married life and parenthood and some are called to the priesthood and religious life. Our previous pope said that all of us must give ourselves courageously to this call and see how our Lord wants us to serve him. As a priest/deacon or as a professed religious, God calls us to emulate his Christ, our Lord, and serve others like Christ himself served. Christ continues his work through the Church, through those people who generously answer his call. Is God calling you to serve? Have a look at the UK Vocations Page and The National Office for Vocations. If you are interested you are also encouraged to speak to a member of the clergy.

For adults who are interested in becoming Catholics and for those who have been unfortunate to have missed formation in earlier life, the RCIA Faith Journey is a valuable way to engage with your faith, learn about it and develop it together with others who wish to make that journey, too. The programme takes place from September to May each Wednesday at 7.00pm. If you want to find out more please contact any of the Priests at the Presbytery. 

A Handy Summary of the Sacraments

As a summary and a handy aid here is a simple, handy table summarising the seven sacraments. It contains brief comments about their biblical backgrounds, the words and actions involved, their effects, and who can administer each of them:


Biblical Basis

Central Words

Central Actions




Matt 28:19 - Jesus commissions the apostles: "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit";
John 3:22; 4:1-2 - Jesus' first disciples baptise other disciples;
Acts 2:38-41; 10:47-48 - new believers are baptised "in the name of Jesus" by Peter & others;
(not just Jesus' own baptism: Mark 1:9-11 & par.)

"I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
(the "Trinitarian Formula," from Matt 28:19)
[Note: Some Protestants baptise "in the name of Jesus"; see Acts 2 & 10)

The candidate is immersed in water, or water is poured over the candidate's head.

Becoming a member of the Church of Christ (Christian Initiation); also being forgiven of one's sins.

Bishops, Priests, Deacons;
any Christian (in case of urgent need)


Mark 14:22-25; Matt 26:26-30; Luke 22:14-23; 1 Cor 11:23-25 - Jesus' "Last Supper" with his disciples;
John 6: 48-58 - the end of the Bread of Life discourse: "eat my flesh; drink my blood";
Luke 24:35; Acts 2:42 - Christians gather for the "Breaking of the Bread"

"This is my body... This is my blood..." 
(the "Words of Institution" from the Last Supper)

The bread and wine are blessed/consecrated by the minister and received/shared by the communicants.

Being spiritually nourished by Christ's body and blood; being united ("in communion") with Christ and other believers.

Bishops or Priests


John 20:22 - "(Jesus) breathed on them (the disciples) and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'";
Acts 8:17; 19:6 - believers receive the Spirit, esp. through laying on of the apostle's hands
Acts 10:44-48 - the coming of the Spirit is closely associated with the Baptism of new believers

"(Name), be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit."

Laying on of hands (the bishop lays his hands on the head of the confirmand).

Being strengthened by the Holy Spirit; being "confirmed" in the fullness of the Christian faith.

Bishops; in some cases also Priests


John 20:23 - "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained"; 
Matt 16:19; 18:18 - more sayings on "binding and loosing";
James 5:16 - "confess your sins to one another"

"I forgive you of all of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit"
(the "Words of Absolution")

The penitent confesses his sins, expresses contrition, and proposes amendment; the confessor suggests a penance and speaks the words of absolution.

Begin forgiven of one's sins; being reconciled to God the Church, and other people.

Bishops or Priests

Anointing of the Sick

Mark 6:7-13 - Jesus' disciples "anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them";
James 5:14-16 - "call for the elders of the church and have them pray over (the sick), anointing them with oil in the names of the Lord."

"Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up."

The minister anointing the sick persons forehead and hands with blessed oil

Being strengthened in time of illness.

Bishops or Priests


Gen 2:24 - "a man leaves his parents and clings to his wife and they become one flesh";
Mark 10:2-12; Matt 19:1-9 - Jesus teaches against divorce; "What God has joined together, let no one separate";
Eph 5:22-33; 1Cor 7:10-16 - Paul stresses the unity of husbands and wives;
(not simply Jesus' presence at the wedding at Cana, John 2:1-11)

"I, (name), take you, (name), to be my husband/wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honour you all the days of my life."
(or a similar formula)

The husband and wife make these promises to each other publicly. (Rings are exchanged as a visible sign of this verbal commitment.)

Being united ("one flesh") in God's eyes; becoming a publicly and legally recognized couple.

the couple themselves! (clergy are just the official

Holy Orders
of Bishops,
Priests, and

Mark 3:13-19 & par. - Jesus "calls" and "appoints" the 12 apostles;
Acts 6:6; 1 Tim 4:14; 5:22; 2 Tim 1:6 - "laying on of hands" as the "ordaining" or commissioning rite of local Christian leaders

A long "Prayer of Consecration"

The bishop lays his hands on the ordinand's head; he also anoints his hands and performs several other symbolic gestures

Becoming a member of the "ordained" clergy, the church's official leadership "orders"

Bishops only


Biblical Basis

Central Words

Central Actions




Sacred Heart Catholic Church (Camberwell)

10:00 am & 6:00 pm (Saturday)
8:30 am Mass
11:30 am Mass (With Children's Liturgy)
3:00 pm Mass (KCH Chapel)
6:00 pm Mass
Weekday Masses
9:00 am, 12:45pm (Mon - Thur)
10:00 am (Bank Holidays)
9:00 am, 12:45 pm, 7:00 pm (Fri)
(Sat. Morning) 10:30 am - 11:00 am
(Sat. Evening) 5:00 pm - 5:45 pm
(Sun) 4:30 am - 5:30 pm
(Fri) 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
(1st Fri. per month) After 9am - Till Dawn
(Mon - Fri) 8:45 am
(Sat) 9.45 am
After Weekday Masses
Sacred Heart Association: Fri. 6:00 pm
Our Lady & Divine Mercy: Thur. 5:30 pm
Legion of Mary Seniors: Thur. 7:00 pm
Legion of Mary Juniors: Sun. 1:00 pm
Catholic Charismatic Renewal: Sat 7pm
St. John Bosco Youth Club: Tue. 5:30pm
Union of Catholic Mothers: 1st Sun of the month by 1:00 pm
(Mon) 7:30pm
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark covers the London boroughs south of the Thames, the County of Kent and the Medway Unitary Authority

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The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is an assembly of the pastoral hierarchy of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Sacred Heart Catholic Church (Camberwell)