Children's Liturgy


Hello, I am wondering about a new program started at my parish. There is a Eucharistic Youth Group, which is mostly made up of English-speaking students (although they have Vietnamese heritage), which attends the Vietnamese Mass. Unfortunately, these students do not speak Vietnamese and therefore the community insisted on the children leaving Mass so that they can attend a “liturgy” in the hall as a layperson reads the Readings, Gospel, and delivers a Homily. Before the Eucharistic Youth Group is dismissed, they celebrant blesses the children and then are dismissed into the hall for a “children’s liturgy.” I looked up several books from the Magesterium (see below) and presented it to the community but they disagree with me. Is this “children’s liturgy” okay?

Redemptionis Sacramentum: # 10, 64, 65, 161
General Instructions of the Roman Missal: 59, 66, 99
Code of Canon Law: 767
Sacrosanctum Concilium: 22

Thank you, and may God bless!


Children’s Liturgy of the Word is definitely permitted for children. The children are supposed to return to the congregation in time for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The problems associated with it are the ages of the young people. This is designed for younger children. If a lay person is giving the readings then the children ought to be under the age of reason/pre-First Communion. If you have a deacon or priest to read the Gospel then might be able to go up to grade 5 or so. Only a priest or deacon can give a “homily”. A lay person can ask questions or read a prepared reflection.

I have a feeling you have older children or even teens. CLoW is not intended for pre-teens or teens.


Yes, it is legitimate:–2


From the Directory for Masses with Children (of 22 October 1973):

“6. The Directory is concerned with children who have not yet entered the period of preadolescence.”

A definition of “preadolescence” from is: “The period of childhood just before the onset of puberty, often designated as between the ages of 10 and 12 in girls and 11 and 13 in boys.”

At the definition has: “the period of human development just preceding adolescence; specifically :* the period between the approximate ages of 9 and 12”.

I expect more definitions could be found. But using these it can be argued that the children should be below the age of 9, 10 or 11.


Yes, a Children’s Liturgy is fine.

In my parish, children who have not yet received First Communion (about six years old and younger) are invited up to the front of the church and the priest talks to them briefly. Usually about the day, if it is significant, what is going to be discussed in the Liturgy, etc. Then he gives them a blessing and they go to the church hall for the Children’s Liturgy. They usually return during the collection; that way, they can help carry up the gifts if their family is chosen.

It is totally voluntary; children don’t have to participate in the Children’s Liturgy. Sometimes, they stay in the pew with their parents.


The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops made it clear in their document*** ***[FONT=Arial]***Celebrating the Liturgy of the Word with Children ***that these should:
*][FONT=Arial]not be every week;
*][FONT=Arial]only involve kids from age 4 to First Communion or shortly after;
*][FONT=Arial]be true liturgies involving no pencils, colouring or crafts;
*][FONT=Arial]and never be compulsory since children really do belong in the pews with their parents.[/FONT]


I find the first condition imposed by the CCCB interesting. I wonder what the rationale is. I searched without success for a similar statement by the USCCB on CLOW. My limited experience in the US (home parish and others when travelling) is that those parishes which have CLOW do so every week although not at every weekend Mass.


Their rationale is spelled out and is based on the Directory for Masses With Children which says

Sometimes, moreover, if the place itself and the nature of the community permit, it will be appropriate to celebrate the Liturgy of the Word, including a homily, with the children in a separate, but not too distant, room. Then, before the Eucharistic Liturgy begins, the children are led to the place where the adults have meanwhile celebrated their own Liturgy of the Word. - See more at:


Sometimes, moreover, if the place itself and the nature of the community permit, it will be appropriate to celebrate the Liturgy of the Word, including a homily, with the children in a separate, but not too distant, room. Then, before the Eucharistic Liturgy begins, the children are led to the place where the adults have meanwhile celebrated their own Liturgy of the Word. - See more at:…zIQflTgT.dpuf

I’m aware that the DMC says “sometimes” although I wouldn’t think that “sometimes” necessarily precludes “every week.” I’m not looking to argue the interpretation of the word. I was just curious about their rationale for not permitting it on a regular (weekly) basis.


I hope the answers here on the Liturgical questions surrounding the Children’s Liturgy of the Word may help.

Also, some pointers on setting up a Children’s Liturgy of the Word, which also deals with the issue.


I’m sorry, I forgot a crucial part in my question! There are people above the age of reason and that have received First Holy Communion already! Sorry!


Simon, what you have is not uncommon, though a full liturgy (as opposed the just a liturgy of the word) is less common. But I guess the situation in your parish makes that necessary.

I hope the above links are useful as a practical guide to setting up your own children’s liturgy. It deals with children’s liturgy of the word but you can well adapt to the full liturgy. The key document is the Directory of Masses for Children in the link above. It is issued by the Vatican and so should carry all the weight you need, but it is 40 years old.

The US Bishop Conference website also has some guidance on children’s liturgy but not much. Which diocese are you from - some dioceses have put up guidance in their websites? The best one is the Archdiocese of Westminster in England.

If you need more resources or advice other than those links I have given earlier, please let me know.


My parish formerly had “Liturgy of the Word for Children”. I was one of the leaders, but I would not do it again. They set up a room in the adjoining rectory, table with candles - suspiciously like an altar. We were dismissed from the Church, and led the children there, then we were supposed to follow a Leader’s guide. The guide - loaded with inclusive language - had the readings, suggestions for “homily” and prayers - for instance, they would never pray to God the Father, Jesus God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Instead, the book would have you lead the prayer “to God, to Jesus, and to the Spirit.”
The suggested “homily” would discourage any reference to Christ as God, or Christ the King, just focus on Christ the Friend.

As time went on, I used the worthless book less and less, put in doctrinally sound stuff. But in hindsight, I think it did more harm than good, because it is something like a Mass, but not really a Mass, with no priest. The last thing in the world kids today need is ambiguity. (The reason for candles is that the parish then had to put a vigil light by the Real Presence in the Word, to give it equality to the Real Presence in the Eucharist. Thank goodness our current pastor changed that.)


I agree that many Children’s Liturgy of the Word are done poorly. This is a consequence of poor formation of lay (sometimes ordained as well) pastoral workers. But it doesn’t invalidate the concept. I hope to help parishes with their respective Children’s Liturgy of the Word in any way possible. Let me know if anyone has any specific problems requiring a practical answer.


Here’s how they address the question of 'How Often?"

  1. To answer this question it might be helpful to think about what you, yourself, mean when you see the word “sometimes”; this is the word the Directory uses. Does it not mean “less than always,” “less than usually,” and “less than often”? It probably even means “less than half the time.” It seems that the Directory means us to choose carefully those occasions on which we celebrate separately.

Although the Directory does not elaborate any further on the precise vision of when to celebrate, some of the following pastoral considerations should be brought to bear on the decision.

*]No one fully comprehends the experience of the mystery of God in the Sunday liturgy, not even the adults.
*]Intellectual understanding is not the goal of the liturgical celebration. This is one of the goals of catechesis.
*]The reality and extent of the need of the children to be separated must be considered, not the need of the adults for peace and quiet.
*]Children love action. The experience of the rites, in and of itself, is primary catechesis. Therefore, if any special rite (e.g., infant baptism, confirmation, acceptance in the order of catechumens, etc) is being celebrated, the children should be present.
*]There is no season or feast that in and of itself necessitates celebrating separately.
*]Children should not celebrate separately during the Triduum.
*]If the readings and homily of the day will address “adult” topics (e.g., sexuality, marriage and divorce) or topics totally beyond the comprehension of children of this age group, it might be be appropriate to celebrate separately with them.
62. The separate liturgy of the word should not be a weekly or randomly scheduled event. The scheduling of separate celebrations should be the result of a careful examination of the Sunday readings, keeping in mind the parish schedule of special rites celebrated within the Sunday Mass.

Parishes are encouraged to work on enhancing the quality of the Sunday celebration in the main assembly so that children will not need to celebrate separately very often; priests are encouraged to develop an inclusive preaching style.


Thank you, Phemie


Since post #11 clarified that these are older children, I don’t think that the “children’s” liturgy part is what’s important here. From what I understand, the community has decided that during a mass in one language, the young people will go to another room to hear the liturgy presented by a layperson in another language. Is that correct?

If so, while I can’t cited any documents about any part of it being specifically wrong, it does feel a little off to me. I understand the concept of taking children aside and presenting the readings in a way that makes sense to them, but I don’t like the idea that the adjustment is made for language and not learning level. What’s going to happen five or ten years from now if these kids get older and still don’t speak enough Vietnamese? Would they still be sent out to have their own liturgy? Obviously, there is a bigger language problem in play. Has anyone at your parish looked into either a) Vietnamese language courses for the children to help them connect to their heritage and/or b) English language courses for their parents so that the whole family could (at least occasionally) go to a mass in English?

Two ideas:
1: the families can alternate between English and Vietnamese masses. No one in the bilingual family will be comfortable 100% of the time, but everyone will have a language in his preferred tongue at least some of the time.
2: Since these kids are at the age where they can (or will soon be able to) read pretty well on their own, get them an English-language missal to read out of so that they can follow along.


The reality of immigrant families can be rather different from the romanticised notion inclusiveness and diversity. I am an ethnic Chinese (from all grand-parents) and fourth generation Malaysian. Me and many of my generation speak largely English. I also speak Malay (our national language), Mandarin and Chinese dialects but none well enough for a liturgy. The next generation even less so. And you can say that the Chinese here has been more sucessful in preserving the language and culture. Still, the main liturgical language for Chinese Catholics in my country is English with Mandarin as a minority option.

Simon, I don’t think you should try to teach Vietnamese in the liturgy. Let Vietnamese be taught in the family and the community but the Liturgy of the Word should be in the language the congregation is more comfortable with.

A few questions. You mentioned that the children are dismissed but do they return to the main liturgy? Where do they take communion? Ideally, they should return for the Liturgy of the Eucharist and to their parents but if they could alternatively return to a quiet corner in the Church, perhaps a catechist can translate/guide the children discreetly in the liturgy from that point on.


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