A Little Help? Creative Ideas for Parent Reconciliation “Meeting”

small group - illustration

I’m looking for some creative ideas for Parent Sacramental Prep “Meetings” for First Reconciliation. My goal is to get away from the all-too-familiar 45-60 minute talk given by the pastor, associate pastor, DRE, or guest speaker, during which the parents sit passively and listen and then are given some logistics about First Reconciliation and sent on their way.

I would like to do something that is more mystagogical – engaging the parents in some reflection and faith sharing on some aspect(s) of the Sacrament.

What creative approaches have you taken or have experienced with regards to Parent Sacramental prep for First Reconcilation? Please share!


About Joe Paprocki 2742 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.


  1. I have used simple reflections on the Gospel, usually the Prodigal Son. Just something that they can sit quietly and reflect, maybe put themselves somewhere in the story. Kind of a guided meditation. I’ve also read the Gospel and let them reflect together in small groups, again from different points of view. I stop the discussion after about 5 minutes or when the topic switches to where to find the appropriate attire for First Communion. (and after about 5 minutes of reflection it always switches)

    I’ve also asked them to reflect on their First Reconciliation. It brings out a lot of interesting stories and reminds them not to frighten their children ahead of time.

  2. Amazing as I am setting up for my Reconciliation parent meeting tonight! I use Joe Paprocki’s (smile!) reflection on the sacraments of healing from the Year of Faith catechist retreat as a jumping off place. Good conversation about the sacrament! Very good discussion questions that need to be tailored for this different audience. There is an article by Brian Doyle from the NCR about his son and the need for forgiveness in families that is excellent. After showing them the “Together” materials from Loyola we watch Lump from the Nooma series with Rob Bell. Always great discussion! I’m anxious to hear what others might be doing. My Eucharist meetings need some help!

  3. The True Vine is an excellent reading to meditate on with the children and adults. They (the children) really seem to understand that to “remain” requires some effort on their part. Having the parents participate in the meditation helps give them a common reference for follow up discussions with their children.

  4. As the parent prep for First Reconciliation this year we are going to try something new. We will view a youtube video by Nooma called The Lump by Rob Bill.
    We will use this as a springboard for our conversation along with discussion questions.

  5. Here’s what I did last year (I think it went really well!)(feel free to steal).

    Questions for Reflection / Discussion:

    • Tonight, I went to spend some time in reflection on the Sacrament of Confession, or the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which your child is preparing to celebrate.
    • What thoughts or questions or fears come up when you think of the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
    o Negative experiences
    o Positive experiences
    • Is this a sacrament which is a regular (or semi-regular) part of your life as a Catholic Christian? So often Confession is not a sacrament that we go to. Why is this?

    Tonight I wanted to have us take a step back and look at a more fundamental question.
    We’ll be watching a video from a talk series called the Alpha Course. The talk is on the topic:
    “Why did Jesus die?”

    This talk – gets to the heart of what the Sacrament of Reconciliation is all about.

    In Christ, God offers us the most precious gift: the gift of forgiveness. Let’s watch.


    Questions for Parent Discussion

    • What are your first thoughts or reactions to this talk? What feelings does it evoke, what questions does it raise?

    • How would you feel if you were Francis Gajowniczek, and Maximilian Kolbe had taken your place? Does this example help illustrate what God has done for us in Jesus Christ? How? Did this example / story shed any light on what the Jesus’ death on the cross means for you in your life?

    • What area(s) of your life need the healing touch of Jesus? Where do you need forgiveness?

    • If you regularly receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, what keeps you going? If you haven’t been in a while, what has kept you away from the Sacrament?

    • What are your hopes for your son or daughter as they receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time?

    • How can you as a parent model the loving tenderness and forgiveness of God for your child?

    I then walked them through the connection – what does the death of Jesus have to do with the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

    It is the way by which the grace and forgiveness won by Jesus on the cross is applied to us- how we receive that gift – how it is made present to us TODAY.

    I walked them through the prayer of Absolution –

    God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of your Son, you have reconciled the world to yourself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the church, may God grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

    I also then took them through the Passage in John 20:19-23.

    I opened it up to discussion – and parents raised the issue about why they had never heard this – how Confession had always been about guilt and shame.
    Also, someone asked a question about how do we help prepare our children for the Sacrament of Reconciliation without saddling them with too much guilt?

    I explained that I think Author Dr. Brene Brown has (what I think) is a helpful distinction between guilt and shame. Guilt can be a healthy part of learning to change our actions and to become more of the person who God has created us to be. What we DON’T want to saddle our children with is shame.

    The way she explains it is:

    Guilt = I did something bad
    Shame = I am bad


    The Sacrament of Reconciliation helps us to face our guilt (healthy guilt) and convert our hearts to change our bad behavior, but the Sacrament of Reconciliation also helps us realize that no matter how terrible we feel, how worthless we feel we are -that we are loved by God. Thus, it is a powerful antidote to shame. The Sacrament of Reconciliation reminds us that “we are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures. We are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the Image of His Son.” (Pope John Paul II)

    I took a few more questions then ended in prayer.

    • Rachel, thanks so much for sharing this and especially for taking the time to share in such detail! This is deeply appreciated!

  6. Joe,

    This is the question I asked myself before I had our Reconciliation Parent meeting. I decided to do something different this year.

    I opened with a prayer and then went right into this video:

    Forgiveness Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9J6xOT3Ldw
    Then I had parents answer some questions about the video and about how they
    have taught their kids about forgiveness and hope to prepare them as they
    prepare their child for their First Reconciliation.

    Following the small group discussions our Pastor spoke for about 5 minutes encouraging parents and then I showed the following video:

    Sacrament of Reconciliation Explained: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtbpOERgMvk

    Afterwards, I shared a few thoughts and went into some specifics from a folder of material we give about helping their children prepare for their First Reconciliation.

    I ran out of time but I wanted to then share this video:

    Beautiful Things: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Is6weMrenls

    God Bless,
    William O’Leary

    • Thanks so much for sharing Bill. I will certainly look at these videos. I love the simplicity of your outline.,,very helpful!

  7. Thank you all for sharing your wonderful ideas! My parish is in need of some fresh & inspiring ideas! God’s blessings to you 🙂

  8. You may want to teach about going to confession as going to speak with a psychology, therapist, or going to counseling, (with out the high costs) and making sure God will listen to you with out asking why and making sure He will forgive your sins.

  9. We just had our parent meeting last night. I chatted with a mom who attended who is Lutheran (husband & children are Catholic). She said the most meaningful aspect of the meeting was a guided reflection/discussion period because it gave them all time to pause and think seriously about the Sacrament, where they may not otherwise. They were very engaged and every parent shared something quite different from the next. She said the neat thing was that following the meeting, parents continued to text one another with further reflection and comments!

    For this segment, I read aloud some questions I posted on a large screen for the parents to reflect on silently:

    ● What was my experience of 1st Reconciliation?
    ● Do I carry any negative experience with me about the sacrament today?
    If so, how can I prevent them from transferring to my children?
    ● As my child prepares for their 1st Reconciliation, how can I
    experience personal renewal concerning this sacrament?
    ● What practical things can we do to bring greater reconciliation and
    peace to our home & to our family?
    ● Can this time of preparation for my child be a time for
    reconciliation in our family in some way?

    After a few minutes of personal, silent reflection. I asked them to form groups of 3-4 and share some of their thoughts/experiences with each other, (only if they felt comfortable.)

    After much animated conversation, I invited them to share with the whole group. Some great insights and suggestions came forward.

    Hope this is helpful. Blessings.

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