Planning a School/Class Mass

 The children:

  • gather in unity
  • are nourished by the Word and the Bread of Life
  • are sent forth to live the Gospel

An environment should be created where the children feel welcome and have a sense of belonging: it is always better to celebrate with others!

When planning a Mass, be aware of Feast Days; the Mass could be centred on the theme of a Feast Day.

The children could participate as:

  • altar servers
  • gift bearers
  • readers of Scripture
  • choir members
  • liturgical dancers
  • writers of the prayers of the faithful
  • readers of the prayers of the faithful
  • a reader, who introduces the Mass, explaining that day's saint or summarising the readings for that day.

The sacred space should be in line with the current season and could reflect the theme of the Mass. It could contain photographs, posters, candles, statues, holy water, flowers, leaves, religious art, children’s work, books etc.

The Benefit of Celebrating Class Masses

  • When children actively participate in a Class Mass, it helps them to better understand what is happening in the celebration of the Eucharist.
  • Students often become active in the parish, participating in various ways during Sunday Mass.

To help us understand Mass better, we can break it up into a number of different parts.

1. The Introductory Rite

The purpose of this is to help the people who have assembled for the Mass to become a worshipping community and to prepare them to listen to God’s Word and to celebrate the Eucharist. There are a few options to choose from when preparing the children to assemble for the celebration of the Mass:

  • They could assemble by forming an entrance procession up the main aisle
  • Some children form an entrance procession carrying a variety of items that symbolise the life of the classroom e.g. candles, cross, journal, artwork, banner, copybook etc.
  • The children could form an entrance procession with their parents

Each teacher should choose what entrance procession best suits their individual situation.

2. The Penitential Rite

During the Penitential Rite the priest invites those assembled to remember ways in which they have not lived up to the goodness Jesus saw in them and to ask God’s forgiveness. This Rite should be explained to children in words they can understand. Three invocations are made:

  • Lord have mercy
  • Christ have mercy
  • Lord have mercy

These can be said by the priest, a child or an adult.

3. The Liturgy of the Word

The Readings The reading of the Word of God is an important part of all Eucharistic celebrations and should be given prominence. The readings are read from the ambo. These include a first reading followed by a Responsorial Psalm. Where possible, the Psalm should be sung. The reading can be proclaimed by a priest, a child, a parent/guardian or a teacher.

Gospel Acclamation/Alleluia! The Gospel Reading is the high point of the Liturgy of the Word. The Gospel Acclamation honours this fact and where possible should be sung.

Gospel The final and most significant reading is the Gospel Reading. It is distinguished from the other readings by special marks of honour. A priest proclaims the Gospel.

Homily In all children’s Masses, a homily explaining the Word of God is central to the celebration. This could take the form of a conversation with the children.

Prayers of the Faithful The community offer prayers of petition to God. The prayers could begin with a phrase such as “We pray…” “Let us pray…” “We ask…” Each prayer could end with “Lord hear us” or “Lord hear our prayer” It is best if these prayers could be offered by the children themselves. The children saying these prayers could form a procession, in the order in which the prayers are read, to the ambo. As each child reads his/her prayer, they should wait in line until all the prayers have been said. They then stand, listen to the priest’s concluding prayer, bow towards the altar and proceed slowly towards their places in the church.

4. Liturgy of the Eucharist

Preparation of the Altar The children could set the altar in preparation for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. They could lay the altar cloth and place the candles and flowers on the altar.

Presentation of the Gifts The children could be involved in the Presentation of the Gifts. The procession should begin from the main body of the church. A table could be prepared in advance of the ceremony with the gifts of bread and wine. The children proceed to the altar, hand the gifts to the priest, bow and return to their seat.

Eucharistic Prayer The Eucharistic Prayer is a prayer of thanksgiving and is the centre of the entire celebration. The meaning of the prayer is that the whole congregation joins Christ in acknowledging the works of God. There are Eucharistic prayers written especially for children.

Great Amen The Eucharistic Prayer ends with a burst of praise to God in the Great Amen. If possible, this should be sung.

5. Communion Rite

The Lord’s Prayer The Our Father can be either said or sung and the gestures used if the children have learned them.

Sign of Peace The celebrant invites the assembled people to express symbolically through the sign of peace their love for one another. Music can be played/sung here.

Breaking of Bread The breaking of bread is a fundamental symbol of the Eucharist. It occurs after the Sign of Peace. It is a gesture of Jesus Christ at the Last Supper and expresses our union with Christ.

Children’s Prayer before Communion The children could say this prayer together.

Reception of Holy Communion The children are invited to receive Jesus, the Bread of Life. To receive the host, the child places one hand under the other and extends both hands towards the priest. Alternatively the host can be received directly on the tongue. The priest says “Body of Christ” and the child replies “Amen”.

Child’s Prayer after Communion After everyone has received Communion, the children could say the Prayer after Communion together. Alternatively, they could say the prayer quietly themselves.

A period of silence is usually observed after Communion. A reflection could be read here or some music could be played. These should be in line with the theme of the Mass.

6. Concluding Rite

This begins by the priest offering blessings to the assembled people. The dismissal sends each member of the congregation to go in peace in love and service of the Lord.

Music for the Mass

Start with the following:

  • Entrance/Opening Song: It is important to have a lively entrance hymn as you are about to begin a celebration
  • Psalm: Try to keep it relevant to the theme of the Mass
  • Offertory: This could be sung or alternatively an instrumental piece could be played
  • Communion: Children could sing a song together and then have instrumental music playing while the children are receiving Communion.
  • Recessional/Final Hymn: This should be lively as the idea is that the congregation are going out to spread the Good News that they have just heard at the Mass

At the back of the Alive-O Teacher’s Manual, there is an index or all song titles pertaining to that class level.

When you are comfortable with the above, you could then add music for the other parts of the Mass.

  • Kyrie (Lord have Mercy)
  • The Gospel Acclamation/Alleluia
  • Sanctus (Holy Holy)
  • Memorial Acclamation
  • Great Amen
  • Our Father
  • Agnus Dei (Sign of Peace)

Music notation and words can be found at the back of the Teacher’s Manuals.