Making Pentecost Come Alive for Kids and Parents
Saint Joseph's Catholic Church
Diocese of Jefferson City
A simple, powerfully effective method for families and parishes to recognize the gifts of the Holy Spirit within their children.
"The feedback I got had to do with the 'power' of the event itself. People -- usually the parents -- have wept quietly at the sight of their children being anointed with a prayer of blessing about their particular gift. Children have told their parents later that it was really 'awesome.'" -- Father Christopher Smith
The need it meets
This helps bring the faith to life in the parish and home. It's one thing for children to learn what the gifts of the Holy Spirit are, but it's quite another thing to have the children recognize the gifts in themselves.
Where it came from
Fr. Christopher Smith of St. Joseph’s Parish in Palmyra, MO, created this program to give thanks for the gifts of the Holy Spirit and bring families closer in faith.
How it works
For Mass on Pentecost, place the following in all pews:
- A list on red paper of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit with - simple definitions
- Peel-off name tags
- Red felt-tip pens
Prior to the Mass, the pastor reviews the list with the congregation and asks parents to:
- Identify one gift that each child has shown the most over the past year
- Write that gift on a name tag
- Place the "gift tag" on their child
- After Mass ends, the pastor blesses fresh oil (non-sacramental). Then the children are invited to come forward to be anointed on the hands as the pastor pronounces a blessing about each child’s particular gift of the Holy Spirit.
1) The most powerful aspect is that parents reflect on how the Holy Spirit is working in their children's lives.
2) The children hear from their parents that they have noticed God in their lives.
3) Parents and children talk after Mass about why the parent chose a particular gift; parents and children get talking about God.
4) The children and families are reminded in a tangible way that the Holy Spirit is at work among them.
Ideally, the homily should express that the Holy Spirit is alive in the parish.
It helps to explain that the oil is blessed (like holy water is blessed), but is not sacramental oil.
Parents are encouraged to continue to identify these gifts for their children as they grow.
How to Implement it
Buy felt-tip pens and name tags - enough for all Masses. Accept the fact that some will be used for other purposes so be sure to get plenty.
Create a list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit with their definitions, small enough to fit on half of an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper.
Use red paper for the liturgical season.
Obtain fresh oil in advance and use sparingly.
Plan on a homily which expresses that the Holy Spirit is alive in the parish.
Be open to comments from families as to how this experience has impacted their lives.