Ritual and Remembering in Preparation for the Eucharist

When my daughter Catherine was in elementary school, we developed a school drop-off and pick-up ritual. Before leaving the car, I’d look lovingly into her eyes, smile, and trace the sign of the cross on her forehead, saying, “Blessings upon your day!” When I’d pick her up from the after-school care program at the end of the day, she’d often be playing with friends at the farthest corner of the school yard. The playground supervisor […]

Helping Parents Prepare Children at Home for First Eucharist and Reconciliation

One of the things that we learned from the experience of the pandemic over the last few years was how to assist parents at home with the faith formation of their children. This help often took the form of providing parents with digital resources they could use at home with their children, utilizing them when their schedules allow quality time for faith formation. First Eucharist is one of the primary moments in the life of […]

Equipping Parents to Share Eucharistic Adoration with Their Children

Several years ago, I was redesigning my First Communion retreat to make it more experiential, especially the portion where I have the parents by themselves for a few moments while the children are participating in another activity. I was contemplating how I could not only teach the parents about, but also allow them to experience the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, so that they could pass that gift on to their children. […]

Enhancing Sacramental Preparation with Engaging Videos

I have long been an advocate of using engaging videos to enhance faith formation, as long as they are never used to replace the catechist. In other words, videos should always be seen as a supplement to the faith formation experience—a way of reinforcing important content visually and/or a way of telling a story that invites the viewer into a deeper experience of the theme being explored. In my years at Loyola Press, I have been […]

Pop-Up Catechesis: First Eucharist Retreat at Home

With the ongoing pandemic and shelter-in-place restrictions, almost every aspect of our lives has changed, including major events such as graduations, showers, birthday parties, Confirmations, weddings, and First Holy Communions. For many children, a First Eucharist retreat is part of their preparation at the parish. Since the present crisis precludes such gatherings, I offer some suggestions for doing a First Eucharist retreat at home, in today’s episode of Pop-Up Catechesis.  Here are some resources to […]

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? […]

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