Turning Heads…Literally – Use of Video at Reconciliation Prayer Service

Projector LensThings turned out very nicely with the use of video at our Lenten Reconciliation Prayer Service last evening. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post (Tonight, I’m the Tech Guy!), I coordinated the use of video for 5 different moments of our Lenten Reconciliation Prayer Service last evening, including images of “Stories of Hope” from Operation Rice Bowl, opening and closing songs, a video examination of conscience and a Powerpoint reflection of images of Jesus while children went to confession.

The video screen was to the right of the sanctuary, where the piano is located. As we welcomed everyone to sing the opening song, Hosea – Come Back to Me, all heads turned to lock onto the video screen and the assembly sang very nicely (the sound from the video was amplified through the church sound system). The same was true for the closing song, Amazing Grace, and the video examination of conscience (which I also “narrated”). These moments most certainly enhanced the prayer.

Showing the images of the “Stories of Hope” from Operation Rice Bowl (as the stories were read aloud) was moderately successful only because the narrator was on the far left side of the sanctuary so there was a great distance between the narrator and the images being shown on the screen off to the right. Even so, it helped for the young people to visualize the people they will be helping through Operation Rice Bowl.

Showing the Images of Jesus Powerpoint (accompanied by instrumental music) as the children went to confession was more successful with the 4th graders during the 1st session than it was with the 6th graders during the 2nd session. It gave the children something they could focus on as they waited either to go to confession or for the others to finish. However, few seemed to avail themselves of this opportunity and they ignored it, still tending  to see this stretch of time (usually about 20-25 mins) as a time to chat with their friends. We space them out so there are only 3 per row and the catechists as well as the DRE walk about trying to keep them quiet however they still see this time simply as a lull and an opportunity to chat (albeit quietly, but still chatting). It almost seems to me that, during the time when confessions are being heard, children need to focus on a task – perhaps looking up a few Scripture passages and prayerfully answering some reflection questions. And perhaps, as they do so, they need to be seated one per row so they have less opportunity to mingle. Suggestions? Thoughts? Stories from your own experience?

[picture courstesy of Michael Porter via Compfight]

About Joe Paprocki 2747 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.

11 Comments on Turning Heads…Literally – Use of Video at Reconciliation Prayer Service

  1. In the past few years, after the children (grades 3-6) have received the sacrament, we have given them a small booklet, “The Way of the Cross for Children” (also “The Way of the Cross for Young Christians”). Then we instruct them to physically walk the way of the cross, stopping at each station around the church to read the pages in the booklet. The priests have agreed that this makes a good penance and it keeps the kids occupied and eliminates the chattiness.

  2. thanks for the inspiration. i love the video idea, now I need to make it work! Not to be a nit-picker, but “Hosea” is by Gregory Norbet out of Weston Priory in Vermont, not John Michael Talbot.

  3. Congratulations on the good results. As far as the chatting, at our church when kids and grownups have to wait, we sing hymns while waiting in the pews and listen while waiting standing. My 7-th grade daughter suggests bringing catechism lessons to work on, or reading, or inventing a quiet game. It could be that the more you work on separating the kids from one another, the more they’ll resist.

  4. Joe
    About seating.

    We do 4 per pew (long pews) and leave one blank in between each row.

    We also experiment with “things to do” while waiting.

    Our kids do not see the separation as discipline, but rather an opportunity for quiet time.

    The best was last Monday when we had 12 2nd graders for First Reconciliation. They sat with their parents.

    We had two priests with confessions open face in the sanctuary. The kids watched their classmates as they made their confessions.

    By the way, our older kids would rather go to the confessional. Is that true for others?

    • Thanks, Frank. Good suggestions. One of my 6th graders was asking about the confessional box on Monday and said she wishes she could go there for confession!

    • It has been a little bit of a surprise to us, but we have found over the past couple of years, even the younger students would just as soon go “behind the screen” rather than face-to-face and would rather have some sort of physical barrier between them and the rest of the congregation. We have used divider screens, banners on poles and existing furniture so they don’t feel so exposed. Father has said that the quality of confessions has improved – meaning the children seem more thoughtful and willing to confess more than one thing. The anonymity seems to help them relax – and our pastor is very relaxed and welcoming anyway.

    • I’d be concerned about the voice of the person leading the reflection interfering with the priests’ ability to hear confessions. It depends on the logistics of the gathering space.

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