Our Jesus Day Retreat is the Saturday after Easter, for children and families, since First Communions are on the Sundays of the Easter Season. The most successful was called “Our Hearts are burning” and was based on the Emmaus Journey gospel from Luke. The object was to compare the elements of the experience of those disciples with the parts of the Mass. The gospel was proclaimed in its entirety. Then each group moved to stations where they again read the relevant verses, answered and discussed some faith-sharing questions, then a catechist compared the verse to the appropriate part of the Mass, using their missals. The participants then did an activity to reinforce the concept.
For instance as they were walking along Jesus joined them, and they welcomed him to join them (although they did not recognize him). The part of the mass is gathering and welcoming, the introductory rites, and the activity was making placemats for each person for lunch which ends the retreat.
The parents and children previously have had two sessions on the Mass as part of their preparation. The purpose here is for the first communion candidates to understand that they will be able to recognize, know and love Jesus better when they finally can receive him into themselves in his body, blood soul and divinity.
First confession is done in Advent, and other than the Advent Retreat we don’t have a specific retreat, except the parent-child preparation sessions. We use the “Catholic Parent” series from Our Sunday Visitor, pamphlets which help parents teach the elements of the sacrament to the children.