Bringing Kids to Eucharistic Adoration: Two Easy Ways
Effectively engaging children in Eucharistic Adoration often means bringing the entire family closer together and closer to Christ.
"What's very helpful is having the parents there too, to pray with the kids. Seeing Mom & Dad pray in this way is a great example and a big help.
"At this point I get anywhere from 25 - 75 kids...depending on what's going on in the schools. I'd say we average about 45-55 kids each month. And the kids really seem to enjoy it."
Fr. Timothy Reid, St. Ann's Catholic Church,
The need it meets
Creative ways to help families stay strong and make the faith come alive for children.
Where it came from
In one parish a group of mothers approached the pastor and suggested offering a monthly time of adoration for children. In another parish, the DRE suggested incorporating a brief time of monthly adoration into the Faith Formation program.
How it works
At St. Ann's, on the first Wednesday of every month, Fr. Reid offers children the chance for 30 minutes of adoration in the late afternoon. He divides the time between catechesis (often through teaching them Eucharistic hymns and explaining the meaning of all the liturgical vestments and accoutrements used for adoration and benediction - monstrance, tabernacle, etc.) and praying with them. This holy half-hour for children precedes a regularly scheduled holy hour of adoration that he offers weekly for his parish before Wednesday evening Mass.
At St. Vincent de Paul, once a month, all of the children in the faith formation classes go to adoration together for a brief time of personal prayer. They sing O Salutaris and Tantum Ergo a capella in Latin. They pray in silence for 5-10 minutes. The whole activity takes about the first 10- 15 minutes of the class period.
Fr. Reid's experience:
"As the kids have come to understand what each thing is and why it's necessary, they've become more interested in adoration and benediction."
"As a catechist, I have noticed that my sixth graders seem more engaged in taking responsibility for their personal prayer lives, and are more insightful in refining their consciences- they really care about not offending Our Lord. They seem to have a more acute understanding of how near to them Jesus is and how accessible He is. I attribute this to the graces gained in monthly adoration incorporated into the Faith Formation experience." Jo Flemings, sixth grade catechist, St. Vincent De Paul
"... I think that the [improved] quality of the classes this year could indeed have a direct correlation to the Eucharistic Adoration." Aida Tamayo, DRE, St. Vincent de Paul
"I have been taking my five year old son to adoration with Fr. Reid for a number of months. The repetition of the experience and learning from the masculine figure of the priest about loving and worshipping God has had a significant impact on his ability to retain the catechetical details of the educational part of these holy hours." Margaret Kennedy, parishioner, St. Ann's
This practice will usually appeal very much initially to home schooling families, to devout families at the parish Catholic school, and perhaps surprisingly, to devout mothers of very young children.
If mothers know that the priest will patiently teach the children and will support the parents as they train their children to behave and be attentive, the mothers will be enthusiastic. This practice will be a seedbed for apostolate in the parish and for future vocations.
How to implement it
- Announce the holy half-hour in the parish bulletin, and personally invite people to whom it might appeal; encourage them to invite friends. Email a flyer to the nearest Catholic school to advertise the holy hour, too.
- Encourage the children and be patient with them as they adjust to the silence and stillness.
- Constant and enthusiastic support for mothers enduring the sacrificial aspects of working with their younger children in training them to behave appropriately in adoration is also beneficial.
- Training older altar servers to take turns serving this liturgical practice gives the other children a live example of childhood piety.
- A cry room or training room with good sound and a view, available for the mothers with smaller children to retreat to can be helpful.
- Short and understandable lessons about the aspects of adoration, worded for a child's understanding will keep their interest and help them stay focused.
- Resources for developing a program of children's adoration can be found at: http://www.childrenofhope.org
Fr. Timothy Reid is pastor of
St. Ann's Catholic Church.