Question about nursery and classes during mass

I recently started a job as a Faith Formation Coordinator at a parish here in the city I live in. They have nursery open downstairs during mass as well as classes for 3 and 4 year olds. All the other CCD classes are before mass starts or on Wednesday nights. I understand that they are trying to help parents out by letting them drop their kids off so they can concentrate on mass but don’t children receive graces by attending mass? I also believe that a 4 year old is fully capable of behaving themselves and understanding certain parts of the mass. It’s a great learning experience for them to be there. (I have a 3 year old). I would like to know if it is a sound doctrine that people receive graces by attending mass and maybe some advice on how I would bring this up to the parish priest and deacon. I do not think I could change it so late in the year but maybe for next year?

My kids and I really appreciate having Sunday School for mass.

Our kids need good catechesis and education at their level. It is important to find a way to give them that.

Who says they don’t get God 'a grace by going to a class at church where they learn about God?

The answer is not to get rid of the Sunday School. It is important. Also no parent is going to bring their 3 and 4 year old to weekday classes.

When I was Protestant we would go to the main church service Sunday morning and then go to Sunday School. The kids and adults. I’d love to see the Catholic Church do something like that.

Mass at 8:30 and faith Formation Classes at 10 and vice versa.

Also, the grace you get from mass is not from walking in the building. If I go sleep in the back, what grace do I receive? The grace is in PARTICIPATION in the mass of which very young children have a difficult time doing.

If argue they get much more grace from actively participating in the songs and stories and lessons of Sunday School, then just "making " it through mass.

Do try to make the change. Children should be with their families during Mass, learning how to behave. But probably you should discuss this with the pastor and also you will probably need to discuss it with the parish council.

The thing is, it is very hard for children to go from “having fun in the nursery YAY!!!” to sitting still during a Mass they may well not even understand–to me, once it was explained to me, it’s a set-up for an early negative impression of the Mass, which we *really *don’t want to do!

If I were in your shoes, I would start having a teaching session at the beginning of the nursery time, where the children start learning about the Mass and maybe hear a Bible story connected to the readings.

Parents should be encouraged to teach their children the common prayers of the Mass and also discuss the readings and homilies, in order to help the children learn to pay attention.

And both should emphasize the wonderful Catholic teachings of the Eucharist!

I never said to eliminate Sunday school classes but there is time before and after mass AND on Wednesdays to have classes so that they can be present at mass. I believe that a child who is trying to pay attention in mass and even the little ones who are just sitting with mom and dad are absolutely receiving graces even though they do not fully understand what’s going on. We have the capability to decide if we want to participate or not, a 2 year old does not. So you think that God does not give them graces because they do not have the capacity to participate? What if they went to Sunday school AND mass? Wouldn’t that be even better? Keeping a child out of mass is just not the way to go. What happens when they turn 5 and they’ve never been to mass because they spent all that time in a nursery or ccd classes. They won’t know how to behave and will become agitated that they have to sit nicely for a full hour instead of a fun class that may involve dancing and singing. I feel almost lost when I attend mass without my children, I just know that they need to be there just as much as we need to be there. It is a mortal sin not to attend mass so I would say it’s a mortal sin to keep your children out of mass, not on them of course but for the parent. We cannot just go to bible study or a lecture on Church teaching and count that as mass (Even though these are great add ons for our faith). So why should ccd classes count as mass for children?

The thing is, it is very hard for children to go from “having fun in the nursery YAY!!!” to sitting still during a Mass they may well not even understand–to me, once it was explained to me, it’s a set-up for an early negative impression of the Mass, which we really don’t want to do!
:thumbsup:

Thank you St Francis, that’s what I was trying to get across, Sunday school is great but it’s not a substitute for Mass. And Jon S I have 30 Kindergarteners who come to Wednesday classes so you shouldn’t be so quick to say what parents will and will not do for their children’s faith formation.

Kindergarten is a lot different than 2 and 3 year olds.

You asked for opinions of others correct? Or was I mistaken?

If you have 5 year olds that have never been to mass because of Sunday School there is a problem with your parish and the parents.

My parish has Sunday School from October to mid December with breaks for Thsnksgiving.

It then resumes from January to June 1st. With lots of breaks for Holy Week and other holiday weekends.

This means that between the Breaks and Summer, even if I only go to mass once on Sunday morning , my young kids are in mass with me about 50% of the time.

However, since my RCIA class is during the 10am mass they go to mass with me and then Sunday School. I think that parents should be encouraged to attend both with their kids or at least break up the year like I described.

And yes I believe kids get graces from going to mass, I just would not discount that they can receive grace from going to a well done Sunday School as well.

EDIT. How many of your 30 kindergartners are preparing for first Eucharist?

How many would be there if they did not need to be there?

It’s 3 and 4 year olds, no 2 year olds.

We have slight breaks of 2 weekends at the most but we go straight from September to the end of May with minimal breaks. There would be very few Sundays that the children would be in mass.

I agree that children would receive graces from Sunday school and lots of education to help them seek further understanding of the faith. But going to mass is completely different than going to ccd classes. Mass is mass, there’s nothing to substitute for it and I just don’t understand why a parent would want to keep their child away from mass unless it was for a somewhat selfish reason of wanting to have an easier time without having to discipline, etc.

None of my kindergarteners are preparing for Holy Communion, we do that in 2nd grade. The second grade class and the confirmation class are the only ones who really “need” to be there because of sacraments and yet I have 3 different time slots that I do classes on Wednesday nights. 4pm, 5pm, and 6pm for grades k-5 and then 6-8 come at 7. So yes, many many parents bring their children to Wednesday night classes.

How come it is a mortal sin for us to miss mass but not a mortal sin for us to keep our children out of mass? Even if we went to a fantastic bible study on Sundays during the regular time we should be at Mass it’s still a sin…I think the same would apply to children. (the sin being with the parent, not the child). Mass is still vital even if you are in a state of mortal sin and cannot receive communion so even children who cannot receive communion should probably still be going to mass every Sunday.

Yes I understand your point. I am curious your bishop/pastors position. Perhaps a dispensation is granted for young kids to go to Sunday School instead of mass. Or are kids even required to go to mass? (Based on some threads on here of people complaining of “noisy kids” you’d think they are banned from mass, but I digress).

Coming from a Protestant convert, could I suggest a consideration of a Protestant model?

Maybe have ALL or most of your Religious Ed classes for kids and adults on Sunday.

Maybe you have class at 8 am and everyone goes to mass at 10. Or perhaps you have class at 4 and everyone goes to 5:30 mass.

It would be a huge change, but I know at least for my RCIA, I couldn’t do it without the childcare offerred in the form of Sunday School.

The biggest issue would be making sure people went to both. As a Protestant it was no big deal to go to one or the other or even not show at all, so perhaps the risk of people choosing to go to class instead if mass would be too great.

:shrug: brainstorming. :slight_smile:

THis is an opinion. Your pastor may have a different one, and parents may also have a different one.

This is also an opinion.

I find it unlikely that they will “never” have been to Mass. Classes do not run all year long. People take trips, go to other parishes and events, and certainly can bring their children to Mass with them.

In which case you are pefectly free to not take your kids to the preschool classes. Religious education begins in earnest at an older age.

While you may think so, the Church neither teaches this nor requires this. Ecclesial law binds only those over the age of reason.

Nursery and preschool classes for 3 and 4 year olds are not really CCD classes. That begins at a later age. Preschool is just that-- pre. I am sure they learn prayers, sing songs, etc, but it is not religious education instruction in a formal way.

That is a good suggestion but I am at a very large parish and there would not be enough rooms for all the children to come at one time on Sunday. We would probably have to do 3-4 time slots to fit everyone in. We do offer Sunday classes before mass just not for certain age groups. The younger ones go during mass while older ones go before mass. So you can see why we need the Wednesday classes…not everyone fits when done on Sundays. I feel like the only reason these specific classes for younger children are done DURING mass is for the convenience of parents…maybe I should have specified that earlier, sorry for the confusion. There could be a way to fit them in at the time slot before mass or even afterwards or something.

No, children under the age of reasons, particularly those who have not yet begun receiving holy communion, are not required to attend Mass. Ecclesial law binds those over the age of reason.

1ke, I guess you are right in saying this is my opinion, and I did not know that only children over the age of reason have to be in mass so thank you for clearing that up for me.

I know that it is PRE school but they are essentially learning the same things as kindergartners. These classes are offered before mass and on Wednesday nights so why do the 3-4 year old classes have to be DURING mass is what I’m saying.

It seems as if the only reason for this is for convenience of the parents. We have a nursery as well so if they want to bring their kid there then that is an option. I just don’t see a need to have classes during mass when there are so many other options.

Even though it is not required to bring children under the age of reason to mass, isn’t it a good thing? to have both mass and Sunday school?

But what about children who are under the age of reason but have received first communion? What about children over the age of reason but have NOT received first communion?

It does not have to be that way. But, I would approach it with finding out why it is the way it is. Particularly coming into the role new, you may not be aware of the history that factors in to why things have been set up as they are. Perhaps that is the only time particular teachers can teach. Perhaps they had issues with sleepy kids on Wednesday nights. Perhaps they had classroom space issues, or other issues.

Find out the “why” and also poll parents as to their opinion on changing it. I say this as having been in your position-- new to my parish and taking over the RE program 5 years ago.

Maybe yes, maybe no. Approach with a spirit of openness to other views.

It’s not a bad thing. Each family is unique so there may be reasons that this works for them, while others choose not to send their kids to the pre school program. Maybe a different time or day would work for them. But maybe they’ve tried it and 2 hours is too much for the little ones all on one day, and Wednesday night may run into bath and bed time issues for the wee ones.

QUOTE=1ke;11394418]It does not have to be that way. But, I would approach it with finding out why it is the way it is. Particularly coming into the role new, you may not be aware of the history that factors in to why things have been set up as they are. Perhaps that is the only time particular teachers can teach. Perhaps they had issues with sleepy kids on Wednesday nights. Perhaps they had classroom space issues, or other issues.

I run the program so I know there is enough room, etc. I actually teach one of the classes during mass because I couldn’t find enough teachers! lol Those are the most difficult classes to find teachers for because everyone wants to go to the later Sunday mass, not the early 8 am one:D

Find out the “why” and also poll parents as to their opinion on changing it. I say this as having been in your position-- new to my parish and taking over the RE program 5 years ago.

To a certain extent I can see trying to work out a viable option for parents but I think that polling them is quite extreme. If I had to do what every parent wanted me to do I would have 40 different classes every week and be working 24/7 so I think that one option on Sunday and 3 options on Wednesday is very good compared to a lot of other parishes who only offer one time.

Can. 11 Merely ecclesiastical laws bind those who have been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it, possess the efficient use of reason, and, unless the law expressly provides otherwise, have completed seven years of age.

In general, if they are under the age of reason but have begun receiving Holy Communion, parents tend to bring them to Mass with them (this would be Eastern Rite children primarily). But, the law binds those over the age of seven who have use of reason.

If a person is over the age of seven but has not yet received Holy Communion, they are still bound to attend Mass starting at that age, and they should receive the remaining sacraments of initiation (Eucharist and Confirmation) at the proper time estabilshed by the bishop.

However, notice it says they must possess efficient use of reason-- so a mentally handicapped person over seven determined to lack reason (or even an older person who has lost use of reason through dementia, etc) is not bound by the law.

Well, you did ask for advice. So I gave mine.

You are not obligated to take any of it.

Thank you, this is all very helpful:)

I don’t know about you but my kids between birth and age 7 or 8 were in bed at 7 p.m. Their dad got home around 5-5:30 and we had supper as a family. I would not have brought them to unnecessary classes in the evening.

Jon,
One receives grace from attending Mass but not from attendance at nursery school during Mass. A sacrament occurs during Mass; one is in the Presence of Our Lord; and one is participating in the greatest prayer the Church can offer to God, true worship.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.