|MAKING IT PERSONAL
to everybody present in the assembly, through other people. Make it
Readings and hymns can be personalised. After a reading or hymn, ask
the children to quote one word or phrase they remember from it. They
can choose whether or not to explain why they remember it.
Prayers can be personalised. Compose and use acrostic prayers, using
names of children present. Make the message in the prayer relevant.
Do not be
Meet others, to try to
Inspire them by
Do is to
Rely on Jesus
Allowing him to lead you.
Jesus continues to call people by name today.
Show this, using Luke 6:12-16.
readings may be dramatised or accompanied by: mime, symbolic movements
or different postures.
One of the readings during Mass can be treated in this way and this can
be very effective in holding the children's attention.
Older children could work out their own way of dramatising a Bible
Even turning lights on and off at appropriate times can emphasise the
meaning of the reading.
The priest should be told beforehand.
provide an abundance of assembly ideas. They can be acted or mimed. Add
a relevant Bible reading, some prayers and a hymn and you have an
and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.'
These lines are from the carol 'O Little Town of Bethlehem'. They could
form the basis for an assembly.
Children could be asked to suggest hopes and fears - either their own,
or general worldwide ones. These could be written in two columns on a
whiteboard at the front of the hall.
Which column is the longest?
Choose one hope or fear and pray for it as a school.
Choose another and pray for it privately.
This could also be done with lines from other popular hymns and carols.
Once a year,
maybe during Lent or at another time of reconciliation, the school can
take part in a Reconciliation Assembly.
At my school, the priests from about five local parishes used to come
in for a whole afternoon once a year. The R.E. co-ordinator, (myself at
that time), wrote a service in which each priest had a speaking part.
This was posted to the priests in advance. The whole school assembled
in the hall for this. A child from each class also did a reading, (a
prayer or short Bible story), and the whole school said an Act of
Contrition and sang a hymn such as 'Lord, the light of your love is
The children then returned to class. One class at a time came back into
the hall. There was background music playing - a tape of lively
children's hymns. Sheets of prayers and an examination of conscience
were placed on chairs for while the children were waiting to speak to
The children approached this with reverence and often said that they
were glad this had been organised for them. All the children in the
school attended the service, but could choose to take the opportunity
of speaking to the priest afterwards. Children from all denominations
spoke to the priest. It was very rare for a child not to take this
opportunity. It was also very rare for a priest not to be able to
attend. If they are given enough notice and have the aim of an event
explained to them, they are usually very helpful.
There are shorter alternatives, such as:
1) After an examination of conscience, children are invited to come
forward and write 'sin words' on a board, e.g. fighting, stealing,
Words of absolution are spoken and the board is wiped clean at the same
2) After an examination of conscience, children are invited to come
forward and place a piece of rubbish in a bin. A song such as
'Yesterday' could be played in the background.
Words of absolution are spoken and the lid is put on the bin.
During an examination of conscience, children are invited to come
forward and blow out candles at appropriate moments.
As words of absolution are spoken, the candles are relit from the
The words of
familiar prayers can be varied slightly to suit the theme of the
Children should be told that the words have been altered and maybe told
E.g. the words of the Gloria could be changed. The school could be
asked to make a repeated response during the prayer.
Love thy neighbour
To try to show how people have tried to build bridges across conflict
Go to www.nobelprize.org
. You can download speeches from
all peace prize winners. With some editing you have an assembly.
At the end
of assembly, some children from each class can be commissioned, maybe
with the words, 'Ite, missa est', or 'Go, our assembly has ended.'
A gesture can be made to these children, e.g. sprinkling with water,
laying on of hands, blessing with oil or water.
Their task is to take the good news they have heard in assembly back to
class, home etc. This prolongs the message of the assembly and words