Making the Offertory of the Mass a Special Time for Children

Winter 2001 Front Page Story Stewardship Seeds Newsletter

For good Christian stewards, the Offertory is a very special part of the Mass. This is the time when we place our gifts before God. Children, too, can easily learn to appreciate the significance and beauty of the Offertory.

In the early Church the people brought whatever they had to share and placed it on the altar during the Offertory. Later the deacons would distribute to the poor the food that had been brought to the altar. Whether children have money to share or other gifts, here are some ideas for making the Offertory more significant to them. Some ideas may be more appropriate for a school Mass or a Mass with just selected grade levels. Other ideas can be used in weekend liturgies.

  • Some parishes or parents may object to taking a collection from children, especially if the parish is not in financial need. In this case, let the children vote on where their offertory gifts will be donated - maybe to the Missions, to homeless children, to sick children, to immigrant children, to expectant mothers in need, or for a special project which the school has adopted.
  • Whenever the school is doing any type of collection, try to tie this into the Offertory of the Mass, if at all appropriate. For example, students can bring their canned goods for the Thanksgiving Food Drive to church with them and then process up to the altar during the Offertory to place the donations at the foot of God's table. This is so much more meaningful to a child than simply throwing them in a box next to the teacher's desk. Or if students have made cards for nursing home patients have them bring them to Mass and then collect them during the Offertory and bring them forward for the priest to bless.
  • If the parish uses children's envelopes, encourage children to also include gifts of time and talent in their envelopes - pictures they have drawn, poems they have written or pledges they make to do a good deed. Give an accounting of the children's collection, including the number of pictures and good deeds, in the weekly bulletin.
  • It can be a powerful witness to the adults in the congregation if the children are invited to bring their gifts directly to the altar while the regular collection is being taken. At least one pastor we know sits on the altar steps with a basket to personally receive the gifts from the children and thank them.
  • Even if the parish does not use regular children's envelopes, a classroom project could be for the children to create their own offertory envelope from a plain white envelope and use that for a special one-time offertory gift. After talking about what stewardship and the offertory means students could use words, pictures and border designs to create their own envelopes.