Instead of Giving Money as a Gift for First Holy Communion

I’ve touched on this issue before: the strange tradition we Catholics have of giving children money as a First Holy Communion gift. While a well-intentioned gesture, it makes little sense: “You’ve received the Body of Christ; now go out and buy something for yourself!” Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox, but not before suggesting an alternative gift idea. I suggest the wonderful Dear Pope Francis book (also available in Spanish) as a most fitting First […]

First Holy Communion Novena

Encourage families preparing a child to receive First Eucharist with a novena-style prayer to pray at home. Download the First Holy Communion Novena and make copies for parents, instructing them to begin praying 10 days before the day of First Holy Communion. Each day’s prayer time includes parts for children and parents, as well as a suggestion for a family practice for the next day. The text for the novena is from Christ Our Life, […]

Come to the Table: A First Communion Retreat (Part 2 of 2)

This is the second of two articles about hosting a retreat for children preparing for their First Holy Communion and their parents. This article provides the outline and schedule for the retreat. The preparations, planning, and materials needed for the retreat were described in the first article. Registration and Gathering The retreat begins with snacks and registration. At registration, hand out a welcome kit to each family. Ask each family member to write their names […]

Come to the Table: A First Communion Retreat (Part 1 of 2)

This is the first of two articles about hosting a retreat for children preparing for their First Holy Communion and their parents. This article covers the preparations, planning, and materials needed for the retreat. An outline for the retreat will be provided in the second article. One of my favorite activities to do with the children is Come to the Table, our First Communion Retreat. This retreat has become an opportunity for family catechesis, when […]

Preparing for First Holy Communion

Every year, the number one question from my second graders as they prepare for First Holy Communion is, “Mrs. Coleman, what does it taste like? My brother said it tastes like paper.” My typical response to this concern is, “Does your brother often eat paper?” My concerns as a catechist are a bit different than the children’s. The closer we get to First Eucharist, the more I worry: Are they ready? Do they truly understand? […]

A Catechist Aide Just For You!

I know most catechists appreciate having an aide to assist them, especially when that aide can act as a “co-catechist” of sorts, jumping in from time to time to offer support, insight, and perspective on the lesson being taught. This is especially helpful for catechists who teach younger children whose attention spans can be so short! With that in mind, Loyola Press is happy to provide those of you teaching First Eucharist and First Reconciliation […]

Giving Something Besides Money for First Communion

I’ve posted about this previously: when it comes to giving a child a gift to commemorate his or her reception of First Holy Communion, I propose that we do better than just putting money in a card! Of course, children are conditioned today to equate receiving money with the highest expression of generosity, and I realize that, by offering them some other gift, they may come to the conclusion that such a giver is “cheap.” Perhaps […]

The Parent Panel for Parent Meetings

A few years ago, I posted about an approach I’ve been taking for parent sacramental prep meetings, particularly First Eucharist. Basically, I’ve been asking the catechetical leader to recruit four or five parents from the previous year’s First Eucharist class to form a panel that I can interview about their experience of bringing their children to the sacraments. I have had nothing but great success with this format as these parents eagerly give witness to […]

Seeing the Wonder

Kathy MacKenzie has been involved in youth faith formation for the past 12 years, most recently as Director of Religious Education at St. Timothy Parish in Norwood, MA. We asked her to tell us about a favorite moment in the faith-formation year. Any moment at which I see the bright light of understanding dawning on young faces, an expression of wonder and awe at the beauty that is God’s grace, is an instant of pure […]

A Celebration for All: First Holy Communion and the Parish

Last year was my first solo direction of the liturgy for children receiving First Holy Communion. At my parish, this Mass is not part of our regular weekend liturgies. This gave me the ability to ensure that every child had a role. Although we celebrated two beautiful liturgies, I felt that they were lacking a critical element: the involvement of the entire parish. This year I have been trying to reinforce that our celebration of First […]

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