“Please, Mr. Paprocki! Pleeeaase!!!”

I had planned to be a “Grinch” last evening and skip taking my class to the Christmas pageant that the first-graders were putting on. I figured that my kids wouldn’t know about the pageant since I hadn’t said anything about it and I would have one more full session before Christmas break to complete the seven Sacraments.

I forgot that many of my students have younger siblings!

The first girl that came in asked, “Are we going to the Christmas play?” to which I responded “Probably not, we have a lot of work to do.” “Oh please, Mr. Paprocki, PLEEEEAASE!!!!” At this point a few other kids arrived and said they had younger siblings in the pageant. How could I say NO at this point! So, alas, the Grinch’s heart grew 3 sizes last night and I took my kids to the pageant, but not before being able to do a quick 30-minute lesson on the Sacraments. Here are a few highlights:

  • I sent the kids in groups of 3 to the board to list the signs and symbols of the Sacraments of Initiation that we had learned over the last 2 weeks. Working together, they came up with all of them!
  • The demonstration of the disappearing food coloring for the sacrament of Reconciliation went nicely – a clear glass, filled half way with water and vinegar, a couple of drops of red food coloring to symbolize sin, and finally some bleach poured in to make the color disappear, symbolizing how Reconciliation makes our sins “go away.”
  • The demonstration of the dried leaf and the “oiled” leaf to show the healing effects of oil went fairly well although the oiled leaf crumbled more than I expected. Still, it was nowhere near the crumbling of the dry leaf so I was able to talk briefly about how oil heals and restores.
  • The demonstration of mixing water colored red with water colored yellow to create orange worked nicely and enabled me to talk about how 2 colors combined to make up a new color just as, in Matrimony, a man and a woman combine to become one.
  • The demonstration of singing “Row, Row, Row, Your Boat” in 3 rounds to show what a conductor does (comparing it to the role of a priest in calling forth all of our gifts to work together) did not go so well since it was time to go to the pageant and the kids were extremely giddy. Oh well…3 out of 4 ain’t bad!
  • The pageant was very nice…the first-graders did a lovely job of portraying the Nativity story and their parents were proud to see them in action.
  • After the pageant, we had about 10 minutes in class so my aide Daneen used the time to tell them the story of the candy cane (symbolic of the bishop’s crosier…one of the signs we just learned about) before distributing some candy canes to the kids as a treat to take home.
  • I distributed some pens to the kids as a gift…the pens contain a scroll with Catholic prayers on them. One girl said, “Wow…this is the best present ever!” OK, I’m glad she liked it, but best present ever? I don’t think so!
  • On the way out, 2 kids spontaneously hugged me which is nice but I’m always aware of safe child environment rules so I did my best to reciprocate by leaning down and giving a “side-hug” and a big smile.
  • When I joked “see you next year” since I won’t see them again until after the New Year, one young fellow asked, “are we done with CCD for this year?” I assured him we were NOT!
  • One young fellow motioned for me to lean over and he whispered, “please pray for my Grandpa…he has cancer.” I was very touched and assured him I will pray in a special way for Grandpa.
  • I came home with 3 or 4 little gifts that the kids (and their parents) were nice enough to bestow upon me. To be honest, I thought 4th graders would be bigger gift-givers than the 8th graders I had been teaching, but it was about the same! 🙂 Seriously, it’s nice to receive ANY gift.

In all, a fun night and nice to look forward to a couple of weeks off!

About Joe Paprocki 2344 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

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