Preparation for 1st Confession & Communion Ceremonies: Practical tips that 1st time teachers might find useful. Part Three

inside confessional
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Please note: This post is about preparing for the ceremonies

of First Confession and Communion

as opposed to faith formation and learning during the year.

 

I notice a significant numbers of visitors to this blog

are looking for information about preparation

for these ceremonies, hence this post.

 

Though the children will make their confession

on the altar, as part of their preparation,

I show the children the confession box

and explain that their grandparents

and perhaps parents made

their first confession in the confession box.

Teacher certainly did.

 

I sit in the priest’s compartment

and one by one they come into the side compartment.

It’s dark, they shut the door and it is an adventure for them.

 

I tell them about the anecdote in Frank O’ Connor’s

short story ‘My First Confession’ where the young hero

tries to kneel up on the arm rest!

Candles of Prayer
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We’ll also light candles another day.

The children really enjoy those two activities.

 

Then leaving nothing to chance,

I acquire that new year’s leaflet

in advance of the ceremony

and customize a copy for the priest,

writing in the names of the children

that he can call them up for their readings or prayer.

 

I used type out the prayers/readings

for each child and laminate them.

Now I prefer to have one laminated A3 sheet

with all readings/prayers/songs

on the lectern and we use this in every

practice. On the day the children are used

to using it.

Taking no chances I have a duplicate of this

in case it gets mislaid.

 

Art – Name Plates 

Each child decorates a card with their name,

which goes on the seat that they are assigned to.

 

I code the back of these: writing on the R for right

and L for left i.e. to the right of the aisle/to the left

and the number seat the child is in.

 

Otherwise I am constantly check the ‘master list’

to check where I should be putting the cards,

and mistakes can be made.

 

I collect up these name plates after the First Confession

and use them again for First Communion.

Lumen Christi
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Wall Hangings

We do two wall hangings for either side of the church

with all children having a part to play in their composition.

This saves having to hang forty or so pictures

separately in the church. This work is integrated with

art. Making them can be time consuming.

 

Of course after all that practicing it can happen

that the children are so excited on the morning

that all the preparation goes out the window.

That is when I am particularly thankful that

we have the support of the older children in the choir.

Let Jesus Fix it For You
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Parts One and Two of this topic here

and here.

There are great prayer resources here MargD Teaching Posters

Preparation for 1st Confession & Communion Ceremonies: Practical tips that 1st time teachers might find useful. Part Two

Please note: This post is about preparing for the ceremonies

of First Confession and Communion

as opposed to faith formation and learning during the year.

 

Quite a  number of visitors to this blog

are looking for information about preparation

for these ceremonies, hence this post.

 

If it is your first time preparing a communion class

you might find helpful ideas here.

 

How does one prepare for the First Confession ceremony?

I ‘role play’ being the priest. The children are introduced

to me by other children pretending to be the parent(s)

 The Holy Family in Nazareth
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I’ll talk to the class about who’ll bring them up

and talk about ‘different kinds of families’.

 

I’ll get them very familiar with what to say

when they go up to the priest.

 

We also talk at length about

‘the examination of conscience’

and what they could say to the priest

about the ‘times they did not show love’.

 

But we never ‘practice’ these

‘times they did not show love’.

I advise the parents to talk to them

about what they could tell the priest

with them at home also so they know

what they will say when the time comes

The Good Shepherd 35 CMB - Cicely Mary Barker
Photo Credit: Waiting For The Word via Compfight 

What about seating?

Traditionally, where I teach,

children sit with their families.

 

In other schools the children sit up the front

with their families sitting behind.

 

Some schools include a ‘service of light’ with candles

in the First Confession ceremony.

 

We have a choir from third and fourth to

support the children making their confession

and communion.

 

I allocate seating according to the job a child is doing

so that for example the children saying the first prayer

are sitting across the aisle from each other

and walk up together when their time comes.

Then we’ll book the church for two

perhaps three rehearsals.

IMG_5180
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The children may need to be taught

– how to genuflect towards the tabernacle,

and how to behave in church;

– how to bless themselves

with holy water on the way in,

– and not to kneel up on the seat

and look behind them.

 

Walking up the middle aisle

and down the side will need practice

as parents are inclined to turn around

and walk back the way they came.

This can be disconcerting for the children.

 

They will also need to learn how to receive

the host properly in their hands.

Our parish office provide us with a box

of unconsecrated hosts in the week before

Communion and we practice with these.

 

Parts One and Three of this topic here

and here.

Excellent prayer resources and visuals here: MargD Teacher Posters

Preparation for 1st Confession & Communion Ceremonies: Practical tips that 1st time teachers might find useful. Part One

The Good Shepherd 41
Photo Credit: Waiting For The Word via Compfight

Please note: This post is about preparing for the ceremonies

of First Confession and Communion

as opposed to faith formation and learning during the year.

 

I notice a significant numbers of visitors to this blog

are looking for information about preparation

for these ceremonies, hence this post.

 

If it is your first time preparing a communion class

you might find helpful ideas here.

 

How long does preparation take?

This will vary depending on a number of factors,

for example;

– the teacher,  

– the school ethos and traditions

– and the number of children in class

that are not making communion.

 

I find if I take time during religion class over a month

that is plenty in order to prepare for each ceremony.

If you over rehearse, the children will become jaded.

 

What prayers do the children need to learn?

Prayers can include the:

– Act of Sorrow

– Prayer for Forgiveness

– Prayer after Forgiveness

– Our Father

– Mass responses

– Confiteor

– Prayers before Communion

– Prayers after Communion

 

There are GREAT resources on

the Seomra Ranga website:

including a First Confession,

First Penance booklet.

Scroll down this link to Seomra Ranga.com 

to see what is available.

Double check that you have the correct format

of ‘The Confiteor’ and mass responses

as they have changed.

 

Every year, we collect up the booklets

at the end of the ceremony and store them,

for use with preparing the class, the following year.

 

If you go over the full ceremony once

to give the children an overview,

then you can practice it piecemeal over time.

A Hymn
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How else can you involve the children ?

I ask for children to volunteer to sing,

do a reading or say a prayer.

I  assign them these jobs in pairs

so that the children can give one another back up.

For example I can pair, a more confident child

with a less confident one.

 

At both ceremonies the children go up on the altar

and say the Our Father with actions so we practice these.

 

Parts Two and Three of this topic  

here and here.

Finally great eye catching visuals for prayers here

on this great blog:  MargD Teacher Posters

Congratulations to Today’s First Communicants

Well done to all the boys and girls in 2nd Class

who made their First Communion today.

We were all very proud of how well

you prepared for this special day.

 

You behaved beautifully in the church.

Everyone agreed you sang,

and read very well,

and brought up the gifts

with great reverence.

 

We hope you have had a super day

and that you get a good night’s sleep tonight.

We heard some of you were up very early indeed.

 

Teacher realises you may be very tired on Monday

and has planned the day accordingly

I am looking forward to

hearing all about your Big Day.

 

We will make thank you cards

and write some thank you letters.

You won’t have to work too hard.

We enjoyed our Passover Meal

On Thursday 2nd May, we had a Passover Meal.

This is an annual event in the school

for 2nd classes who are preparing for 1st Communion.

 If you want to read more

about what we do

at the Passover Meal,

Please follow this link.

Communion Preparation: We will learn about the ‘Passover’ meal.

On May 2nd some visitors are coming to school to present

the ‘Seder’ or Passover meal to both 2nd classes.

 seder plate
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Traditionally this is a joyful family dinner

which is held in the homes of Jews at Passover.

 

Through this ceremony,

we learn about the history of the Jewish people.

 

Our visitors will bring flat bread or matzah crackers,

Passover - Shalom
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parsley or watercress,

horse radish,

haroset (applesauce mixed with nuts),

eggs and juice.

 

The story of Passover is not only told in words.

It is also told by the food on the table.

  • Bitter herbs let us know how bitter and hard the Jews found their time as slaves in Egypt.
  • Charoset is a paste made of apple and nuts. It stands for the mud bricks which the Jewish slaves were forced to make.
  • A hardboiled egg reminds Jews of their new life of freedom.

On the table there is also flatbread, salt water and wine.

When the Jews escaped from Egypt,

Crossing the Red Sea
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they did not have time to bake proper bread

and could only make the bread that did not have time to rise.

Salt water reminds Jews of the tears which the slaves shed.

 

The meal ends with a search for a piece of flatbread which,

earlier on, has been hidden.

 

The meal will take about two hours.

The children do not eat much,

as the food is mostly mentioned is in small quantities

and is not to everyone’s taste.

It is fun. There is a lot of singing and high spirits.

The enjoyment of the celebration brings the children closer together.

It is a high point of the Communion class year.

The reason that 2nd class gets this opportunity

is that it gives them a better understanding of Communion.

Last Supper
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As you know, at the Last Supper

when Jesus took bread and broke it

and said, ‘This is my body’

this was at the Passover meal

in the Upper Room, in Jerusalem.

Take and Eat
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 We are looking forward to it.

Our First Confession

Saturday 2nd March 2013 was a very special day.

We made our First Confession in Holy Rosary Church.

 

Our family and friends were there.

It was a happy day.

We had prepared well

at school with Teacher

and at home with our parents.

We had practiced the readings, songs and prayers.

We learned about the Lost Sheep and The Good Shepherd.

 

Our friend Paul, who works in the parish,

made a sacred space for us on the altar.

In the space was the shepherd and the sheep

that Paul had brought to class one day.

The singing bowl that we love was there too.

 

 

On Friday we all lit candles

and said a prayer that everything would go well.

Everything did go well.

The sun was shining and the sky was blue.

 

The ceremony was at 12.30 in Holy Rosary Church

with Father Liam, Father Denis and Father Owen.

Our parents brought us up and introduced us to the priest.

We told the priest about the times we didn’t show love.

He told us that God Our Father in Heaven forgives us.

That was a good feeling. We felt really happy.

 

Amy said she felt ‘lighter’

JC said he felt ‘amazing’

Tadhg said he felt ‘refeshed’.

Senan said he felt like ‘a clean white shirt

that had just been through the washing machine’.

Nicole said she felt ‘closer to God’

Alice said she felt that she was more ‘grown up’.

 

When we walked back down the church

and we felt that we were walking on air.

It was a good feeling.