Advent Reconciliation

Last evening, I took my 6th graders to church for an Advent Reconciliation service which turned out nicely. Here are some observations:

  • Our DRE, Arlene, has been out tending to her husband who has had some serious health issues (but appears to be on the mend, thank you, Jesus) so we gathered in church with a bit of uncertainty as to how to proceed. Quite understandable, given the circumstances, and quite manageable.
  • The kids’ biggest concerns were: do we have to say the Act of Contrition to the priest? (no, we say it communally) and can we pick which priest we want to go to? (yes, they can)
  • It turns out, we did have an order of prayer to follow although we were short on copies because school teachers used them earlier in the day and we weren’t sure where they left their copies. The kids shared copies and were relieved that the Act of Contrition was included as a communal prayer!
  • Before we began, 2 of my students proudly told me that they had the Act of Contrition memorized and then proceeded to recite it for me! I asked them when they learned it and one of them said she learned it in my class 2 years ago! I don’t recall having my students memorize it but I’ll take credit for it if she insists!
  • The kids are not at all nervous about going to confession, namely because the program offers them 2 opportunities each year: Advent and Lent, so they are used to celebrating this sacrament regularly.
  • There were 4 priests available for face-to-face confessions and we catechists acted as ushers, inviting the kids to go row by row.
  • The entire service lasted an hour (we probably had 60-70 kids total) and, for the most part, the kids were well behaved. There are long periods of time before and after their confession when we can probably do a better job of keeping them prayerful.
  • I gathered my kids at the end, since we only had 10 minutes left and told them that it was good that we all had a chance to own up to our sinfulness (all of us catechists go to confession too…good modeling for our youngsters and good for our own spiritual health!) and to hear the words of forgiveness – a great way to celebrate Advent and prepare for Christmas.
  • One girl responded by saying, “It’s like a weight being lifted off…I feel like I can breathe easier.” Amen!



About Joe Paprocki 2750 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

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