Mary Immaculate College Students Bring Gospel to Life for Young Children
Last night saw 67 Mary Immaculate College (MIC) B.Ed. Students graduate with a Certificate of Participation in Children’s Liturgy at ceremony which took place in St. Clements College on Tuesday evening with the certificates being presented by Rev. Tony Mullins.
The Children's Liturgy Project Graduation Ceremony, which has been running since 2003, represents a very successful community-based partnership between MIC and the Redemptorist Community who are deeply committed to involving children in the liturgy.
Anita Kelly and Siobhan Hickey, the Redemptorist Community’s Children’s Liturgy Project Coordinators, work with B.Ed. and Graduate Diploma in Education students at MIC to design and celebrate liturgies that make the gospel texts and Christian message come alive for children. The project arose as many parents expressed the need for liturgies that could make the gospel readily accessible to their young children. As one parents stated,
“It can be really difficult to keep children quiet and focused during Mass. The liturgy seems to be designed with adults in mind and sometimes the Christian community tends to forget about children who have short attention spans and can’t understand the liturgy. It can be difficult for parents and children”.
The MIC students take part in preparatory sessions which enable them to assist at the Children’s liturgy project through weekly hour-long planning sessions with the Project Coordinators. Then at 12.15pm Sunday mass at the Redemptorist Church up to 50 children ranging in age from 4 to 12 years are invited to join the MIC student leaders and Project Coordinators in the Confraternity room whereby they are divided into pre First Eucharist groups (age 4 to 8) and a post-First Eucharist group (age 9 to 13). The students work as catechists and present the Sunday readings and gospel to the children in a participatory and interactive manner through song, story, art activities, games, questioning, prayer and reflection. Following this the children are then lead into the main body of the Church for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The children rejoin their families, often carrying examples of the work they have done during the Children’s Liturgy. The students complete a written reflection exercise based on the liturgies in which they have participated.
Speaking at the event Prof. Michael Hayes, President of MIC, said
“The liturgy can be difficult for adults to understand at times, not to mention children and it is important to try to engage children’s imaginations so that they do not switch off. More than just pieces of paper, the certificates you have received signify that you have gained new skills which you will hopefully be able to put to use in teaching Religious Education and designing liturgies and prayer for children, thus providing a really valuable service to the local faith community”.
This successful project has been welcomed by both parents and children. A parent of three children who regularly attend the project stated,
“The children really enjoy it and as a parent I’m very grateful for it. It is great to have such a variety of trainee teachers working with our children. They bring great gifts and talents to the children’s liturgy and my children’s appreciation of the Christian message and their enjoyment of the liturgy has grown considerably”.
Or as one participating nine year eloquently described it “It’s cool. I love the art and the songs and we have fun!”
Attending the event were Dr. Patricia Kiernan, Dr. Daniel O’Connell, Maurice Harmon, Dr. Thomas Grenham and Prof. Claire Lyons, Head of the Department of Learning, Society and Religious Education, MIC.
Click here to read a copy of the President's Speech
From Left: Roisin Scollard, Tralee, Prof. Michael Hayes, President of MIC and Neasa Ni Luing, Dingle.
Grainne Waters from Wexford, pictured with Prof. Michael Hayes, President of MIC & Caroline Walton from Kilkenny.
Eimer O'Brien from Kerry, Anita Kelly ,Redemptorist Community Children’s Liturgy Project Coordinator, Colm Supple from Kerry & Fr. Mick Wall, MIC