Sharing good ideas for Family Catechesis

Baptism Preparation Session booklets

St Charles Borromeo and St Thomas More Parish in Aigburth have developed session booklets for parents who miss a Baptism Preparation session.  They have shared them with us here. You are free to use them in the parish to support the Baptism programme. Copyright Archdiocese of Liverpool 2016 All rights reserved.

Session 1
Session 2
Session 3

Enrolment Mass ideas at the start of year

At the beginning of the year when Family Catechesis begins, some parishes hold enrolment masses to welcome families at this time of Sacramental Preparation.

Here is an example from St Teresa's, Upholland.  It is possible to edit this Word Document for your own needs.

Some ideas for structuring an enrolment Mass include:
 
Families sign up for a particular Saturday or Sunday Mass on one weekend. (The enrolment form may be given out through the school to be brought back to the parish a particular weekend).
Families are asked to bring completed Enrolment Form and Child’s Baptism Candle to Mass
Enrolment may be at same Mass as a Baptism welcome (or Home Mission Sunday, or other appropriate weekend, etc)
At end of the sermon, Father calls the catechists forward and blesses them; then parents are called forward and bring their forms to Father. On the way back to the pew, parents walked to Catechists at the sides of the church for their candles to be lit 
Father reads out the promises from the enrolment form (below) as questions and parents respond “I Do”
Parents return to their child in the bench and place a hand on their child's shoulder
Then Father asks the children if they too will join in with preparation and help from the parish/home/school....Children respond ”I Do”
Father also asks the People of the parish “Do you welcome and support.......”  The parishioners answer 'We welcome and support you.'
All of the congregation stand and renew baptism promises together.
 
The questions in the enrolment leaflet were based around:-
Parents, are you willing to accept the invitation 
to join in the “With You Always” programme 
to prepare your child to receive
the Sacraments of Initiation
and include them in full
Confirmed Communion with the Church?
 
I/ We (parent’s names)
accept the invitation to join in with 
the “With You Always” programme.
 
I / We welcome the help and support of the
Home ~ Parish ~ School partnership.
 
I / We commit to participating fully 
in the preparation for the Initiation of 
 
 (child’s name)
into the ways of faith and Holy Communion.
 
With thanks to St Teresa's, Upholland.

Celebration for the end of the year - a prayer service

St Charles Aigburth, Liverpool has graciously shared their prayer service

In Thanksgiving for the grace and gifts of the Sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, Holy Communion and Confirmation

Please feel free to use it or adapt it to celebrate in your own parish community.

Refreshments followed the short service.



Discovery Boxes for tactile learners

 Some children learn better when they can manipulate objects related to the sessions. This may be especially useful for children with visual impairments, but all children enjoy exploring new objects as part of a session.

Here is a list of particular objects you may wish to use during the sessions.

MP3 and Polish language resources

An MP3 With You Always version recorded for any child who learns best by listening, including children with visual impairments or learning difficulties.  This recording is available to all schools and parishes, and through Nugent Care.

A Polish edition for parents and children.This is a trial year for our Polish With You Always edition.  We hope it will be used widely through schools and parishes.

To order these new resources, please contact Eleanor Lalley at e.lalley@rcaol.co.uk.  They are available free of charge and by email to Archdiocesan schools and parishes.

Youth Reconciliation resources

Youth Reconciliation stations to use in a Youth Reconciliation service - these come from St Teresa, Upholland.

New review materials from Penwortham

These 2 sheets are excellent summary worksheets to help review Confirmation and Communion. Children can write what they know about these subjects and what they remember from sessions.  An experienced catechist says these especially help distinguish the 2 'C' words of Confirmation and Communion in the mind of an 8-9 year old.  They are free to download and print out.



Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd has come to Liverpool!

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a Montessori-based catechesis for young children.

Catechesis takes place in a specially organised room called an atrium, 'which is not a classroom for pouring in information, but rather a place where the child can encounter God through the independent work with simple yet beautiful materials in an atmosphere of peace and mostly silence.' (quoted from CGS materials).  Everything is at the height and size of the young child.

The Missionaries of Charity on Seel Street, Liverpool 1, have set up an atrium and are working with children age 3-6.  Areas not pictured below include:
  • A practical life skills area and toys to aid small motor skills
  • The life of Mary
  • Seasonal vestments
  • bibles in various languages
  • a tiny tabernacle
  • a last supper set (and altar)
  • glass cruets. sponge and towels
The images at right show:
  • The Annunciation
  • Baptism
  • the Good Shepherd

Other resources from St John the Evangelist, Liverpool

The parish of St John the Evangelist in Liverpool have been doing extra family activities to build the community between the parish and the school. This has been a support to Sacramental Preparation, but also a link to all families.

There were four elements to the activities this year:

Open Church

‘Messy’ Church

‘Stations on the Path of Faith’

Christmas Invitations/Star Tree

There were also a symbols, one from each ‘With You Always’ session, which were used on one of the Stations. 

Here is a description of their projects.
Here is a link to photographs, invitations and an illustration of what the activities look like.

Other resources from St Margaret Mary, Liverpool

Sacramental Catechesis additional resources -

St Margaret Mary parish have found that while some families struggle to finish the With You Always resource during the Sacramental Preparation time, other families can race ahead and finish too quickly!  

They have made available a few extra puzzles and activities for families that finish early:

Sessions 2 & 3

Session 4

Session 5

Session 6

Session 7

Year 5 Mass the following year after Family Catechesis

How can the school and parish reinforce what was learned in Year 4 Sacramental Preparation later on in Year 5 and 6?

Here is a link to a Year 5 Mass from St Teresa, Penwortham.  

It is a class Mass that reminds children and families of all they learned about the Eucharist and prayer.  It has been graciously shared in order to be a help to other schools and parishes seeking to continue to engage families and to strengthen their faith

Stations of the Cross with Children

Here is a nice example of a service of Stations of the Cross with children. 

The children and parents in St Teresa, Penwortham found it a meaningful part of preparation for Confirmation and First Holy Communion.  It is a mixture of traditional devotions and family-friendly language. Even little brothers and sisters managed to stay focused thanks to the movement of the Stations of the Cross around the church. Thanks to St Teresa, Penwortham, for sharing it with us!

Resurrection eggs

For a variety of Lenten resources for the home and parish see this website:
 
 
An especially effective way to present the Easter story to young children is by using Resurrection eggs. These are a big hit with younger children in little church or at home.  Once you organise them you can reuse them every year. 
 
Here are written instructions:
 
Youtube also has a useful video for Resurrection eggs:
 

Pentecost celebration

 St John the Evangelist, Kirkdale, held a Pentecost party for all families. The party especially welcomed families of children in Years 3 & 4 preparing for the Sacraments.

A great idea!

Crafts for Sacramental Preparation

Parishes with talented catechists who love crafts have been adding crafts to Family Catechesis sessions. These simple crafts have helped occupy the siblings of children preparing for Confirmation and Communion during Family Catechesis.

Session 2 craft:  'I will make you fishers of people'

Cut a kitchen sponge into a boat shape and add a sail on a toothpick made from felt to make a little boat.  This craft was very popular!

First Reconciliation craft

Make miniature people out of pipe cleaners beforehand - one for each child making their First Reconciliation.  'Dress' the figure in a simple tunic and belt.  Let the child use the little person to help make his or her First Confession.  'What does the little person/you want to confess to Jesus'?  Leave the little person at a focal point or icon after Confession.  The children were pleased to take their little people home with them afterwards.

Do you have any other craft ideas to share?  They may be included in the final edition of the Family Catechesis catechist guide. Contact e.lalley@rcaol.co.uk or 0151 522 1047

Messy Church in Liverpool

Over the past few years, St Annes, Overbury Street, Liverpool L8 2TY has successfully established a Catholic Messy Church.

All are welcome!

The first Saturday of every month at 2:30. Please see the
website newsletters for more information.
 
2:30 - 4:30 messy crafts, prayer and celebration!

A report about the very first Catholic Messy Church:

The Parish of St Anne and St Bernard in Liverpool held their first Messy Church on Saturday 15th October which turned out to be a truly amazing gathering with lots of children, mums, dads, grandparents, great-grandparents, and single people. They came from two multicultural inner city church congregations, schools, and the neighbourhood.
Creation was the theme since this was a beginning in commiting as a Parish to Messy Church.  Crafts included birdfeeders, colourful bird hats, sun catchers, flowers, thank you cards, planted bulbs, gingerbread men and women, fishing, sandcastle building and a huge wall painting of everything in Creation.
After crafts everyone moved through into church and experienced the celebration with scripture and a great deal of joyful thanks to God for creation, while the crafts were cleared away ready for food to share together.  Everyone said grace together.  Food was simple and satisfying - finishing off an extraordinary, happy experience for young and old alike.  

Wednesday Word


Many parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of Liverpool use the Wednesday Word to reflect on the Sunday readings.  Have you seen a copy?
From the Wednesday Word website:
 
All parishes are aware of the presence among them of many Catholics who, for whatever reason, have stopped practising their faith actively, but we are often uncertain as to how to make contact with them, still less how to offer them a way back. “The Wednesday Word” is the perfect means for this, an attractively produced and thoroughly practical leaflet which parents can use to pray and share with their children.

Parent - Toddler groups

A parent-toddler group is always a good idea, bringing together parents, babies and toddlers for social time and a connection with the parish. Families who have requested Baptism for their children may be looking for a way to make more social contacts within the church.  And, a parent-toddler group is a huge service to the community, a chance to support families and bring people together! 

Baptism reunion

Parishes have staged a family fun afternoon and Mass for all families with babies and children baptised during the year.  These are popular events that help families to reconnect with the parish and to celebrate the year with their parish family.  Young families can also socialise with one another.
These events usually include Mass, food, drink, child-friendly activities and even a bouncy castle.

Meeting up after Mass

Crafts, coffee and a little chaos. 
Family coffee meetings after Mass can be easily expanded to include crafts that appeal to children, and simple drinks and snacks.

Jesus spoke to them... 'and know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.' (Matthew 28:20)


Parents '...will be the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith.  May they also be the best of teachers bearing witness to the faith by what they say and do...' (Rite of Baptism)
 

Special Needs & Nugent
'Christian families are missionary families, in their everyday life, in their doing everyday things...'  Pope Francis
A DVD for parishes and schools