Including same age peer companions is a must in the children’s RCIA process (RCIA, nos. 252, 254).

Here are five ways you can connect children in the RCIA with the baptized kids in the parish.

First communion or confirmation preparation

Much of what happens for the preparation of the parish children for first communion is also wonderful preparation for catechumens. They can easily join their peers for some of the preparation sessions. If the catechumens are a little older, they could likewise participate in some of the confirmation preparation sessions. Or, you could arrange to have some of the confirmation candidates come to a catechumenate session to talk about what they are doing to prepare for their sacramental celebration.

Service projects

If the parish children are involved in making greeting cards for shut-ins or gathering Christmas gifts for homeless shelters or any other type of service project, be sure to include the catechumens. They will begin to develop a relationship with the other children in the parish, and they will learn firsthand how Catholics put their faith into action.

Junior high or high school retreats

Older children often participate in retreats through the parish religious education program or the parish school. Older catechumens would benefit from these retreats as well.

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Children’s Liturgy of the Word during Mass

If you celebrate a separate liturgy of the word for children, consider involving the younger catechumens with their peers. This could serve as their dismissal from liturgy. However, be sure to have an adult available to stay with the catechumens when the baptized children return to Mass for the Eucharist.

Occasional religious education sessions when it’s appropriate (National Statute, no. 19)

If the religious education children will be discussing Jesus, or faith, or scripture, or anything else you think the catechumens would benefit from, be sure to include them in the session. If the discussion is a little over their heads, provide some follow-up discussion at your next catechumenate gathering.

You can also invite some of the parish children to serve as companions to the catechumens and to participate in your RCIA sessions. Companions might come on a regular basis as a type of “sponsor” for the children in the RCIA. Or, companions might come to RCIA on an occasional basis, depending on how your sessions are structured.

About Rita

Rita Burns Senseman is the pastoral associate and director of religious education at St. Benedict Parish in Terre Haute, Indiana. She has written numerous articles and books on various aspects of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, including A Child's Journey: The Christian Initiation of Children.

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