Norms for First Pennace Service?

In short: Are there instructions or norms for a First Pennace Service?

Now here’s the story…

My daughter made her First Pennace on Saturday. We homeschool and she gets religion everyday but she was in the parish school for the last 2 years so we decided to let her go thorugh the faith formathin program as a transition to let he be with her class to receive her sacraments. While I know she was well prepared and have no issue with how the actual sacrament was administered, I took issue with the actual service itself. As a parents, my wife and really felt disconnected and what there was of a service was not well prepared and chaotic at times.

First let me start off that our parish Masses are very vell done and reverent. Our pastor is very traditional but somewhat of a “one man show.” Now, there was a rehearsal for this the week before that my wife attended. That consisted of the pastor talking to the children and parents and not much else. There was no actual practice or the next week. Father mentioned the “song” that the children usually sing and he apparently was met with a blank look from the coordinator who had no idea what he was talking about. He then instructed her that they will learn “the song” for the next week. From what my daughter sauid, they listened to a “song” on a CD in class that SUnday but she didn’t remember what it was called or the words.

We arrived about 10-15 mins before the service on Saturday and there were groups of parents sitting in various areas of the church. The children were instructed to sit all together in the front but in no particular order. One of the teachers was passing out handouts with the “song” lyrics on it and ran out just before she got to us. She apologized and said that she didn’t know that father wanted her to make enough copies for everyone.

Father came out about 5 minutes to nine and announced that the children were going to practice their “song.” I think this was news to the organist as he tried his best to go along with it. Needless to say we sat there whil they practiced this song all while there were still kids straggeling in. When tehr were don practicing, we then all stoof up and sang the “song” and were instructed to it down. Father addressed the children for a bit, then had them repeat a response to a prayer (that they never learned or practiced). We all said the Our Father and then the 3 priests went into their confessionals and the teachers began hearding the children to the confessionals. When they were done, they were to say their pennace, light a candle in front of the sanctuary, and then they could leave.

As parents that go to Mass each week and participate in the parish, we felt uncomfortable. I can’t imagine the how parent who doesn’t normally attend felt. This is the first one of these I’ve attended since my own and my memory of that is vague. Is there a proper way to do this or is the service up to the pastor?

A group “First Penence Service” is neither a requirement or necessary, the proper reception of the Sacrament individually is. However no one ever records the reception of the Sacrament in any way.

my bet is the priest sprang the whole idea on the DRE at the last minute, I just giggle at the idea of getting an organist (he is over 80) to church early Saturday morning.

please cut some slack here. In the past our pastor has not wanted any kind of service, he just wants to start hearing confessions from children who have been well prepared by catechists and parents. so we get a visiting priest while Father is ill, who wants to preach first, lead them in an examination of conscience and so forth. His words were very well addressed to the age group, but w/o a hint of pre-warning for the catechists in charge. I am sure I looked clueless trying to get things organized the way he wanted. we already had our retreat the week before 1st confession where we did what normally happens at a communal penance service (w/o confession) and instruct the parents to go home and finish final preparation with the children and bring them back the next Saturday morning.

there is no “norm” it is not required for first confession. If a parish has a communal penance service as in the second form of the new rite, that is fine, but it does not go so far as to mandate songs, prayers, readings etc.

As far as the song sheets I would have quickly made copies for the number of candidates, since it was “their” song, and not have made any for parents, who probably scarfed up the copies your DRE had made. Same as “handouts” for the retreat, I make one for each family, not each person, but always run out because some people bring 4-5 family members and take one for each.

“First Penance” is becoming too big a deal. We even have parents taking pictures of their kids going into the confessional. When I made my first penance we just walked from class to the church and put on a line. No prayers, no readings, no singing, no big deal. It is interesting that despite the big production some DREs make of first penance, for many, they don’t see a confessional again until they are ready for Confirmation.

The celebration of the Sacrament is always a private matter. The penence service is a different thing.

Its been three years, but I don’t remember my daughter’s first reconciliation being a big deal. Just a short talk by the priest and they said some prayers together, but it was mostly an individual event. My memory is more that it was a recognition of the event, not an actual service.

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