I follow Team RCIA on Twitter, and the other day I saw an interesting tweet entitled “10 key ideas for celebrating the Triduum.” It got me thinking about various tips I could share on celebrating the Triduum with children in the RCIA. So, here are four quick real-life tips.
1. Call and confirm
Even though you have told them a billion times, call on Tuesday or Wednesday of Holy Week and confirm with a parent that they and the children will be there on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Many parents feel that it’s just “too much” to bring their children to Church three nights in row or they have a sports or school conflict, so they quietly skip either Thursday or Friday. I have said more about the importance of the Triduum for children, please see The Triduum and children in the RCIA.
2. Talk about what to wear
And, use it as a “catechetical moment.” Kids always seem to be worried about what to wear during baptism. In our parish, they wear their bathing suits under their brown garment and they think it’s pretty funny to wear a bathing suit to church. Also, they seem to be very concerned about how and where they will change into their white garments. This is a great time to talk to kids, parents, and godparents about what it means “put on Christ”
3. Make room for all parents and godparents
I feel very strongly that it’s extremely important that both parents and godparents stand with their children at baptism and at confirmation. Space is often a concern during the Easter Vigil. Nonetheless, I urge you to have parents and godparents stand with their children for baptism and confirmation. Liturgy coordinators (with the best of intentions) often want to avoid overcrowding and improve the flow of the ritual by limiting the number of people that stand up with each child. The situation is often more complicated when there are parents and step-parents and godparents to choreograph. Although every worship space is unique and every family situation is different, I implore you err on the side of inclusion. Surely, on the holiest of nights we can make room for everyone.
4. Be sure there are other parish families with children at the Triduum
This is especially important at the Vigil. Although this is puzzling to me, I’ve belonged to several different parishes in Indiana and Michigan and it’s always tough to get families with children to come to the Vigil. Nonetheless, when we are initiating children, it is very important that some of the children’s peers be present to celebrate throughout the Triduum. The children in RCIA are being welcomed into our community and they need to be welcomed by other children as well as adults. If parish children have been active as companions throughout the process, then they will hopefully be present at the Triduum also. However, it’s not always that simple. You will have to put extra effort into personally inviting parish families with children to participate in the Vigil. Give them a role in the Vigil such as greeters or gift bearers. Ask families with older children and teens to help coordinate the reception after the Vigil. All in all, children need to be there to welcome other children into God’s family – the Church.
What’s your experience?
What suggestions do you have for celebrating with children and families at the Triduum? At the Vigil? Please share your thoughts.
3 thoughts on “Four quick real-life tips for celebrating the Triduum with children”
My challenges/questions in dismissing children on Holy Thursday and Good Friday:
1. No one would stay with the children after dismissal. I missed the Liturgy of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday and Communion on Good Friday when I stayed with the children.
2. At what point of the Mass and Good Friday service do you dismiss the Elect? After homily like on Sundays, or after Washing of the Feet on HT and Veneration of the Cross on GF?
You’re right that dismissal during the Triduum is a challenging issue, especially with children. Part of what makes dismissal of children a very delicate issue is that we first have to be concerned about safe environment issues. Safety of children must be the top priority.
If you do dismiss the children with an adult who has received the proper safety training, the dismissal is before the General Intercessions on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. See an article by Nick, https://knot.teamrcia.com/2007/04/01/when-do-you-dismiss-during-triduum/
The “Prayers of the Faithful” (or General Intercessions) are reserved for the “faithful,” i.e. the baptized. Thus, those not baptized are dismissed prior to these prayers. So, yes, that means after the washing of feet on Holy Thursday. However, on Good Friday the General Intercessions typically come before the Veneration of the Cross. So,the elect would be dismissed before the Veneration. But, to be honest, we have the children who are the elect stay for the veneration and then dismiss them. (Maybe a liturgist would like to comment on this point?)
Furthermore, this does not address the issue of you, the catechist missing the Liturgy of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. That is not a good thing and I know it’s very difficult for you. I think you have to make a decision year to year, based on what is best for everyone involved. You may have a parent who is also one of the elect. IF the children who are elect have joined with the adult elect on other occasions AND a parent is present for the dismissal, the children might be dismissed with the adults. The age of the children is also a determining factor. If there is no one to lead the children, they can certainly remain in the assembly.
Let us know what you decide to do! We would love to hear how you handle this situation.
The question, I think, is when to transition from the period of purification and enlightenment to the celebration of the sacraments of initiation. Is Holy Saturday at the Vigil the only option? In our parish, we consider the Triduum as one celebration spread out over three days and invite our elect to be by our sides for the entire Triduum. We include them in the Presentation of the Holy Oils and the Washing of the Feet on Holy Thursday. We do not dismiss during the Triduum. Our dismissals conclude at the end of Lent.