Opening Mass Tonight; Thinking Ahead to Next Week

Tonight, our religious education program celebrates our Opening Mass in the Church which means that I will primarily be supervising my 6th graders as they gather for Mass and then throughout the Mass. This afternoon, I plan to go over their names so that this evening I will be able to greet them and talk to them by name. As we wait for Mass to begin, I thought I would do some Q & A with them about the names of places and objects in the sanctuary (tabernacle, ambo, baptismal font, etc.) and throughout the church.

After Mass, I will have about 15 minutes with them in the classroom which should be just enough time for me to do a go-around on what objects they brought in for our prayer table and to remind those who did not bring in something to do so next week.

I also plan to give them the following assignment to do with their parents in preparation for beginning our exploration of the Bible (Old Testament) this year: Bible Basics Assignment

As I indicated last week, that assignment will be accompanied by the following cover sheet: Homework Notification Sheet – Bible Basics

So, the bottom line is that I don’t have a whole of prep for this evening, HOWEVER, I’m taking advantage of that to prepare a dynamo session for next week that will involve BIBLE LEARNING STATIONS! I’m very excited about this…something new that I’m trying for the first time. I’ll be coordinating with the other 2 sixth-grade catechists. Each of our rooms will host 4 learning stations and the students will make the rounds through a total of 12 learning stations, filling in worksheets as they progress from station to station and inserting Bible Bookmarks (from my The Bible Blueprint book) into their Bibles. The 12 learning stations will be:

  • Room 1: Bible Basics (Table of Contents/Biblical Citation; Catholic Bible Interpretation; Bible Timeline; The Bible at Mass/the Lectionary)
  • Room 2: The Old Testament (Pentateuch, History, Wisdom, Prophets)
  • Room 3: The New Testament (Gospels, Acts, Letters, Revelation)

Each learning station will be a table-top triptych display board such as the one pictured above.

I don’t have everything ready yet, however, I can share a sample with you now. Next week, I will share the WHOLE thing with you!!!

Bible Blueprint Bookmarks (PDF – These are old, I’ll have better ones next week!)

PENTATEUCH Learning Station (PDF/ formatted on 8 1/2 x 14 paper size)

Bible Learning Stations fill-in sheet (MS Word 97-03 / Pentateuch only)



About Joe Paprocki 2759 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

12 Comments on Opening Mass Tonight; Thinking Ahead to Next Week

  1. Hi Joe,

    Tonight is our first night of Christian Formation. After being a Catechist Aide for third grade for so many years, I am now an aide for first grade-when I first started out as an aide I was an aide for- you got it! 1st grade! Should be interesting! I”ll let you know how everything goes!

  2. Thanks for sharing what you do as a catechist, Joe! Can you explain how you do the prayer table and what you ask the studens to bring in?

    • You’re welcome, Suzanne. We start our session with the kids lining up to form a procession, each holding an item for the prayer center beginning with a prayer cloth, Bible, bowl of holy water, and candle, as well as all their personal symbols. I play some instrumental music and the kids silently process around the room and place their items in the prayer center. It’s very prayerful and takes all of 60 seconds or so! I ask the students to bring in any small symbol of their faith. My Sept. 18 post has a picture of what they brought in so far.

  3. Jeanne Anne writes:

    Thank you for the information you pass on.
    Each week our classes (Pre K-5th Grade) gather in church for a Prayer Service.This prayer service is led by individual classes that have practiced for this the week before. The Prayer Service readings and reflections are based on the upcoming Sunday gospel. The young people really enjoy acting out the gospel stories, and watching the other classes act out the gospel stories.
    We use greetings and prayers that we say at mass and get them comfortable with these prayers.

    We’ve been doing this for over 10 years, and coming back to the gospel stories we’ve heard in the previous cycles really helps retention.

    Following the prayer service the catechists take their students to their classrooms for the rest of the evening for instruction in the Catholic Faith.

    Have a good year!

  4. Theresa writes:

    Hi Joe,
    Thanks so much for these handouts — they are just great; make understanding the bible so much more simple.
    I will use this with my adult classes too!
    Theresa Haggerty

  5. Dear Joe,

    I enjoy your activities for the students- there are very engaging. I would like to have similar engaging activities for my 2nd grade class who are preparing for reconciliation and first communion. We have a prayer time similar to yours. I think the class is good but I wanted to make it awesome! Any ideas?
    God bless you for sharing all your great ideas with us.

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