Perhaps the simplest way to improve children’s RCIA is to personally invite parish children and their families to the Easter Vigil. The more children and families we have at the Easter Vigil, celebrating the Sacraments of Initiation with children in the RCIA, the richer and better our celebrations will be. More children and families at the Vigil is not only a testament of gladness and support to the RCIA families, it’s a way to deepen the faith of our Catholic families.

When more kids and parents are at the Vigil, they experience the power of the liturgy, the sacraments, and the RCIA. This not only heightens awareness of children in the RCIA, it makes more parish children, and families want to be a part of it.

In order to make this happen effectively, you will have to do some advance planning.

Start early

Perhaps the most important this is to begin inviting early.

  • Issue your first invitation shortly after the Christmas season so families can start planning ahead.
  • Follow up your verbal invitation with an e-mail or a written note that includes all of the details of time and place.

Repeat your invitation

  • Plan to reinvite everyone at least three times.

You may think you are being a pest, but people really do forget. Or they just put off answering. Keep asking until you get a definite no.

  • Always impress on the invitees how important the role of their children will be at the Vigil.

Let the kids help

If possible, give the parish children significant roles at the Vigil.

  • For those that stood with the catechumens at the Rite of Acceptance, they might also stand with them at the font as there are baptized.
  • Other children might serve as greeters or hand out candles and worship aids.
  • Some might serve as towel bearers as the neophytes emerge from the font.
  • Some of the children might help out in the changing rooms.

Be creative in finding ways to significantly involve the parish children in the Easter Vigil.

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Throw a potluck

Schedule a pot luck dinner a week or two after the Vigil. Invite everyone who participated. Invite the whole parish if you have a hall big enough to hold them.

  • Ask the participants to share at their tables one or two things they most remember from the Vigil. Make sure the children get a chance to share.
  • Provide some time for each table to report out to the large group one or two memories that came up during their table talk.

Make a plan

Spend some time with your team evaluating how your invitation plan worked out. If you are the whole team, make an appointment with yourself. Write down what really worked well. Discuss the things that misfired. What did you want to try but didn’t get to? Then make a plan inviting families and children to the coming Easter Vigil!

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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