For the Sunday Children’s Liturgy the children will meet in their respective classes in the Social Club at 10.15 am. The lead catechist for the respective classes on that particular Sunday will have already set up separate tables with resources obtained from the Catechists’ cupboard in the Sacristy. This table will have two candles and a crucifix set on a white or other suitable liturgical coloured tablecloth. The lead catechist of each class will then complete planning the day’s practicalities with other catechists and children eg: readings, acting parts, singing, offertory procession and programme fillers in the event that the planned programme is finished before it is time to go back into Mass. Initial planning will already have been carried out by the lead catechist and communicated to catechists by email in the week prior to the Sunday Liturgy class.
At 10.30 am the two classes will converge in the main hall for a group sign of the Cross and opening prayer. Again, this can be guided by a catechist but it is encouraged that a child leads the prayers from either class. By 10.35 am the children are back into their respective classes. At this stage the structure of the catechism will change because of the age groups but it essentially remains centred around the gospel of the day with the aim of introducing the children to Jesus and helping them to get to know him and to see him as their special friend. The structure change is because the attention span of the ‘under 5’ class is managed by different interaction and resources to that of the ‘5 and over’ class. Parents may feel their child is not yet ready to move up to the ‘5 and over’ class and if so they may keep their child back in the ‘under 5’ class until they are ready. The content structure also changes because each class’s Liturgy will ideally be managed by a different lead catechist who will bring their own style of delivery and improvisation to the class.
A typical session in the ‘5 and over’ group will be structured as follows:
- Some resources may be laid out on the table relevant to the Gospel theme.
- The children will be settled down followed by an introduction by a catechist on the gospel theme of the day.
- A Gloria then a Gospel Acclamation will be sung (by reference to eg: Katie Thompson song sheets or the Parish hymn book) and these may be led by a group of children often accompanied by a child who can play the guitar or to the Katie Thompson CD songs which have tunes similar to well know rhymes.
- The Gospel will be read or acted out by the children.
- A reflection – question and answer session will then follow engaging the children in what they have learnt from the gospel. The techniques used are left to the catechist carrying out the reflection. It may be straight questions and answers or, for example, a quiz format.
- Children will have been selected at the planning stage at 10.15 am to read the Intercessions/ Bidding prayers.
- 7 Children will have been selected at the planning stage at 10.15 am to do the Offertory Procession – except when it is also a Brownie and Guides’ Mass when they will organise the Offertory Procession.
Experience has shown that when the Mass has reached the middle of the Creed it is time to get the children ready to go back into church. The catechist who is responsible for organising the Offertory Procession will also go to and fro the church to watch how the Mass is progressing and let the ‘under 5’ class know first and then the ‘over 5’ class. This catechist will then take the 7 children out immediately to get them ready for the Offertory Procession. This will involve one child carrying the ciborium and two children, each carrying the water and wine cruets. The remaining four children will each carry an Offertory collection bag.
Meanwhile the ‘5 and over’ group will assemble quickest and go into the church first led by representatives from that class with their own Offertory gifts followed by the ‘Under 5’ class, also led by representatives from that class with their own Offertory gifts and then followed by parents with pushchairs, back into Church all following the Offertory Procession led by the seven ‘5 and over’ children. All children will be led back into the rows at the front of the church especially reserved for them by the lead catechist of the ‘5 and over’ class at about 10 am with reserved signs from the resources box found in the Sacristy. Where there is no Brownie and Guides Mass experience has shown that about four rows either side of the central aisle are needed. Where there is a Brownie and Guides’ Mass there should be six rows either side of the central aisle.
The respective class’s own Offertory gifts may just be their own class’s bible, and/or an example of the work they have covered in the class eg: a picture or other suitable material. Their own Offertory gifts will be placed at the foot of the Lectern on the Lady Chapel Side of the Church. The classes’, own Offertory, gifts are presented, after the main Offertory procession has taken place – by the seven children from the ‘5 and over’ class. When the ‘under 5’ children reach the Sanctuary steps and walk up same they will be supervised by a catechist in putting their gifts alongside those placed by the ‘5 and over’ representatives.
During Mass catechists will sit with the children to encourage them to stay settled and to lead them in prayers and singing. At Communion, catechists will usher out the children, after first enquiring on who has and has not taken their FHC. For those who have not taken their FHC or, it is evident they couldn’t have done, they will be instructed to cross their arms to receive a blessing. All children are to be encouraged to approach not only the Priest but also the Eucharistic Ministers. The children will return to their reserved rows on receiving the host or a blessing.
At the end of Mass all children will be required to stay in their rows until a catechist is satisfied that their parent or guardian has collected them.
Detailed arrangements for Good Friday, Palm Sunday (where children are encouraged to dress up shepherd type costumes), Easter Sunday and Christmas Eve (where the girls are encouraged to dress as Angels and the boys as Shepherds) are planned for by the full team of catechists in meetings – consulting with the Parish Priest.