We hope that our celebration of Mass on Sunday is accessible to all ages, and all ages are welcome. There is a lovely little Children's Area in St Mary's but there are also special things that happen during the Mass which engage with children, especially The Children's Liturgy of the Word (Sunday School).
Gathered with the whole assembly for the beginning of Mass, the children are invited to participate in their own special Liturgy of the Word. During the first hymn, they gather at the altar steps. The priest presents them with a special book of Bible Readings and then they process joyfully to their separate place.
Even though they will celebrate in a separate space and may be out of sight and sound, they are not separate from the whole celebration of the Mass.
During their time together, they pray, listen to readings from the Bible and explore what it may mean for them through sharing and fun activities.
Their time together lasts between 20 minutes and half an hour.
They return to the main assembly (just before the sharing of the Peace), often carrying some of their work to share with others.
The children are doing what the rest of the assembly is doing elsewhere: attending to God’s Word, responding in prayer and ritual, song and silence, relating it to our contemporary life so that it may bear fruit in our lives.
What age range is it suitable for?
The Children's Liturgy of the Word is suitable for children of primary school age. As the children grow in years, they may also take some ministerial responsibilities during their Liturgy of the Word, for example, proclaiming the word, leading the singing, and so on.
However, older children who may have outgrown the celebration may be nurtured as helpers and given some responsibility.
If younger children (for example, under the age of 4 or 5) wish to attend then they should be accompanied by the parents who take a role simply of supervising the children in their care.
Does it happen every week?
On occasions, the children will remain with the rest of the congregation for the whole of the Mass, often participating by reading, leading prayers, and presenting the gifts at the time of the Preparation of the altar.
There is often no separate Children's Liturgy of the Word during school holiday times. However, our Mass remains accessible for all ages, and all ages are welcome!
Click on the picture above to download our leafelt 'Children at Mass'