The Easter season is a time of wonder and of joy, a time when we don’t want families to ditch church for baseball season and forget about Jesus’ big days! How can catechists help young people and families meet the Risen Jesus in ways that will engage them and deepen their relationship with him during this season? Here are a few thoughts.
- Extend a personal invitation to families to participate in the Easter Triduum and to Easter morning Mass.
- Invite families to gather around the fire at the Easter Vigil. Make sure the children can see the blessing of the paschal candle. Then, light each other’s small candles and sit together as a class for the Vigil readings. If there are Baptisms, bring the children to an area where they have a clear view of the action. (Ask permission from your priest in advance if you need to.)
- Provide families who choose to stay home because of the length of the Vigil with instructions for lighting a family “Easter candle” at sunset on Holy Saturday. Have the prayer leader say, “The Light of Christ” three times, with everyone responding, “Thanks be to God” each time. Then, they should have someone read the Gospel of the Resurrection.
- Invite families coming to Mass on Easter Sunday to go out to breakfast or lunch together.
- When children return for faith formation after Easter, be sure to set a prayer table with white cloth, candle, bowl of water, and flowers.
- Open the first post-Easter session by proclaiming the Gospel of the Resurrection. Have students who were at the Easter Vigil share their impressions of what happened that night or share yours.
- Help older children study the readings from the Acts of the Apostles that are proclaimed throughout the Easter season. Ask, “What parish activities are most similar to those of the early Christians?”
- Have children make “welcome” cards for those baptized at the Easter Vigil, and remind them of the importance of Baptism.
- Use a green branch to sprinkle holy water on the children as they leave class every week during the Easter season, saying, “Go in the peace of Christ. Alleluia!” and invite them to respond, “Thanks be to God. Alleluia!”
- Since most programs will end before Ascension and Pentecost, build up excitement for those celebrations at the last class session.
- Plan to celebrate the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. A class picnic or outing after Mass would be wonderful. (Be sure to send a reminder invitation a week before.)
Remember, Easter is not just a single Sunday; it is a season that lasts 50 days. How will you celebrate the Easter season with the children in your classes?