A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Family Matters

Posted on: February 3, 2014

We’re fortunate to worship with everyone from babies to seniors, but the children seemed to be front and centre during and after Mass yesterday—newly baptized babies, a toddler recently adopted into a parish family, children attending Mass in preparation for First Eucharist, teens talking about youth ministry activities and confirmation classes. Fitting, as we were celebrating the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord.

I have to admit I was a bit distracted during Mass by the sound of an infant crying in the parish hall and a toddler who kept saying “Mama!” to get her mother’s attention.

Sometimes it’s all too easy to focus on the noise—joyful or not—that children may bring to Mass and not on the fact that they are the future of the Church. That families need to feel welcome. That we have the awesome responsibility to raise children in the faith and be part of a supportive worship community for other people’s children and grandchildren.

So how can we support the faith journeys of children and youth? How can we make them feel included in the life of the parish?

  • Provide Christian board books or colouring pages for little ones (to help their parents enjoy Mass a little more).
  • Encourage young children to help with the closing worship song by shaking maracas or tambourines.
  • Organize family activities such as a movie night or coffee hour after Mass so children and their families can get to know one another.
  • Be a “prayer angel” for someone preparing for First Eucharist or confirmation.
  • Assist with the children’s liturgy, youth ministry or sacramental preparation by teaching and helping with crafts or contributing to snacks and setup.
  • Attend Masses where First Eucharist and confirmation are celebrated and stop by the reception afterward to show children and youth they are a welcome part of the parish.
  • Let the youth take over the church one Sunday by serving as greeters and lectors, collecting the offering, bringing up the gifts and participating in the music ministry.
  • Encourage older youth to assist the Catholic Women’s League or Knights of Columbus in making parish events (such as a yard sale, barbecue or charitable fundraiser) run smoothly.

I pray that we would see the presence of children and youth at Mass and parish events as a blessing and be guided by these words from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:

The love, loyalty, and dedication of Mary and Joseph are an example for all Christian couples, who are neither the friends nor masters of their children’s lives, but the guardians of this incomparable gift from God.

~ quoted in “Celebrate February 2014,” Catholic Digest, January/February 2014

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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