As a mom, getting to adoration with a toddler seems daunting. The squirming, babbling and crawling around feels disruptive to the other adorers, we’re lucky to make it 15 minutes, and not much prayer happens on my end.
Providentially, several Denver parishes are making adoration more accessible to families.
Risen Christ Parish in Denver offers a guided holy hour one Friday a month specifically for families, with a simple meal beforehand.
This family holy hour includes praise and worship music to help keep the kids engaged. At the end of the hour, the deacon offers benediction and comes down with the monstrance in the humeral veil (a liturgical vestment used to carry the Blessed Sacrament). Each family has the opportunity to come close to Jesus’ real presence in the monstrance, one at a time.
“You can hear families saying, ‘That’s the Lord, that’s Jesus,’” Deacon Unger said.
“I find it powerful to see mom and dad with all their children kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament as a family,” he said.
St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Denver has a dedicated family adoration day in their chapel. On Sundays, a sign is present outside the chapel letting all adorers know that it is family day and to please be patient with these younger adorers.
“Just making it publicly known dropped the shame for parents and allowed them the chance to come and pray (even if a little distracted), and also gets our youngest parishioners in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament,” said Kelly Brouillette, a parish employee at St. Vincent’s who came up with the idea for family adoration about three years ago.
St. Vincent’s also offers a guided family holy hour once a month in the main church, led by the Dominican Sisters and teachers at the school.
Of course, families and children are welcome in adoration chapels and holy hours anytime. But sometimes, it’s nice to know your child is not the only one squealing and crawling. It can be helpful to know that there are other parents there, experiencing the same struggles, while still making the effort to be at adoration.
Tips for families
Here are some tips Brouillette suggested to help make adoration a success for your family, whether it’s during a dedicated family holy hour, or anytime:
- Have a special bag for each child that is only for adoration and Mass. Include quiet books about the Mass or prayer, coloring pages about saints, or a chewable rosary for younger kids. Here are some ideas to fill your bag: https://thelittleroseshop.com/collections/toys
- Sign up for a holy hour with another parent who will also bring their kids. One parent can walk a younger baby around, while the other parent can supervise older children.
- Start them young! Bring your babies to adoration. It gets them used to attending adoration with you, can can start a habit for the whole family.
- Bring along a kid’s visual timer for older kids so they have a sense of how much time is left.
Tips for parishes
What better time to begin a family holy hour, or a family day at your adoration chapel, than during the Eucharistic Revival? Here are some tips from Deacon Unger and Brouillette to help you begin at your parish.
- If doing a family adoration day, have a very public sign outside of the chapel at the start of the day, letting all visitors and scheduled adorers know that it’s family day. This sign gives people a heads up and encourages them to be patient as younger parishioners learn to pray, Brouillette said.
- Have baskets with age-appropriate materials for kids. St. Vincent De Paul has the first adorer of the day bring out these baskets that include books, coloring pages and prayer materials, divided by age groups, Brouillette said.
- If you’re doing a family holy hour, consider adding music or some guided portion to help engage the kids, Deacon Unger recommended.
- Use the main church for a guided holy hour if possible, Deacon Unger said. This gives families the freedom to move around while small children can crawl and wiggle.
- Consider offering a simple meal if doing the holy hour in the evening. Risen Christ begins at 5:30 p.m. with their supper, and then adoration follows. This makes it easy for the families to plan, Deacon Unger said, knowing dinner will be taken care of. The evening wraps up by 7 p.m. so that younger children are home in time for bed.
- “Tap into an already existing parent group or religious education,” Deacon Unger said. This can be a helpful way to get the word out to families with young kids and strengthen the community of families.
As mentioned, families and children should be welcomed in our chapels at any time! These Holy Hours and days set aside can be a nice starting place for families who feel nervous about bringing wiggly kids to adoration. Maybe you start with a guided Holy Hour or a visit during family day, but then make it to your local adoration chapel other times once you’ve gotten comfortable.
“Even if you’re not a mom or dad, make sure you’re smiling at (parents), knowing they’re making a great effort to be there,” Brouillette said.
The next guided holy hours for families at Risen Christ are November 17th and December 15th, with dinner beginning at 5:30 p.m.
To take advantage of St. Vincent De Paul’s family adoration day, visit the chapel any Sunday between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m.