For the last six weeks, a small team at Proclaim: The Office for Mission Renewal has been creating weekly episodes of Ready, Set, Pray! Children’s Liturgy of the Word @ Home. Posted to the Archdiocese YouTube page alongside daily Mass and Archbishop Peter’s weekly messages, the 15-minute episodes are aimed at children, with two presenters from within the archdiocese hosting each episode within their own domestic church space.
The presenters go through the liturgy of the word and explain the gospel reading simply and in a way a child could relate to. Each episode contains segments of animation, prayer, music and times when the parent is encouraged to pause and discuss a question with their child, like what is the Kingdom of God?
‘One of our aims is to promote God-talk in the viewer’s own house,’ says Jacqui Giuliano, series writer and formation specialist in the Proclaim Office at the Archdiocese.
For several months there had been discussion of creating a digital liturgical resource for children. ‘In September, we got a couple of requests,’ Pat says, ‘saying wouldn’t it be great if there was something intentional for kids around liturgy?’
‘Archbishop Peter said a similar thing,’ Jacqui adds. ‘Given that watching a virtual Mass is not terribly engaging for children, he asked us how we might supplement that?’
The Proclaim Office was commissioned to make a pilot and was given an order of ten episodes. Jacqui wrote the format and script of each episode. Pat sent presenters instructions on how to film, and send the files back.
The series, Pat explains, is a collaboration within the Proclaim Office between himself, who oversees and edits the project, Jacqui who writes the episodes, and Matthew Castanelli, who creates illustrations, animations and title cards, and a variety of presenters.
Gary Pinto and Gen Bryant generously lent musical talents for the series, as did Pat Sully and his family.
‘Working within the structure of the Liturgy of the Word has been helpful,’ says Pat. ‘Catholics are familiar with the format. And online, we have opportunities to be creative with things like animation and activities the kids can do in response to the reflection on the word.’
And so far feedback has been encouraging.
The team has received positive notes from various pastoral workers, parish priests, school teachers, and representatives from the National Centre of Evangelisation and Catholic Education Melbourne.
One particular email from a parishioner at St Bridget’s at Greythorn reflected on the series being ‘ideal for the domestic church,’ and ‘a worthwhile project to continue on a long term basis.’
Another pastoral associate cited the usefulness of a children-focused liturgical resource during the period of extended lockdown in Melbourne.
With the series’ warm reception, it begs the question of its future once life returns to normal.
Pat and Jacqui stress there are no plans yet.
However, ‘it’s opened up some good discussions in the Proclaim team,’ Jacqui says. ‘We need to be where people are engaging in faith-based questions. And with younger people, that means being online.’
Not only has the response been positive to this early foray into liturgy of the word at home, it’s been a formative experience for the team in making it.
‘I love writing it, and really enjoy the process,’ Jacqui says. ‘It’s lovely to engage with the scripture in that way.'
For many, the series captures a subtle shift in the way many families have begun to perceive their own homes as being, in part, domestic church spaces during lockdown.
Through this resource, we’re entering into someone’s home, and we want people to think of that as a sacred space. And I’m hoping that we encourage them to pray at home as a family and engage in God talk,’ Jacqui says.
With a background in primary school teaching and six kids of her own, Jacqui says writing the episodes is a natural fit. ‘It’s lovely to do something that comes really easily in one way because we’re producing something uplifting.’
‘This is when fun work and faith life intersect,’ Pat adds.
‘And I’ve found that it’s helped to enhance the faith culture at home. I’ve always said when kids ask new questions, that’s a sign of growth. It’s not when they have answers, but when they have new questions. When you’re intentional about addressing the needs of kids, you’ll get a response.’
To view all episodes of Ready Set Pray! click here.