As with adults, the first step after a period of inquiry or pre-catechumenate is the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens.
260. It is important that this rite be celebrated with an actively participating but small congregation, since the presence of a large group might make the children uncomfortable (see RCIA 257). When possible, the children’s parents or guardians should be present. If they cannot come, they should indicate that they have given consent to their children and their place should be taken by “sponsors” (see RCIA 10), that is, suitable members of the Church who act on this occasion for the parents and present the children. The presiding celebrant is a priest or deacon.
261. The celebration takes place in the church or in a place that, according to the age and understanding of the children, can help them to experience a warm welcome. As circumstances suggest, the first part of the rite, “Receiving the Children,” is carried out at the entrance of the place chosen for the celebration, and the second part of the rite, “Liturgy of the Word,“ takes place inside.
The celebration is not normally combined with celebration of the eucharist.
These two paragraphs supplement what has already been written in RCIA 41-47. Initiating children doesn’t involve starting from scratch. Even a volunteer or certainly a minister who worked with initiating children must be familiar with the whole of the RCIA.
A helpful concession for nervous children in #260. While this wouldn’t hold true for every child, a good number of young people are uncomfortable in large groups.
Note that a deacon may preside at this rite, as he may with the adult rite of acceptance–assuming the Eucharist is not part of the celebration.
RCIA 261 gives a useful checklist: the rite of acceptance should communicate welcome, a warm one. The community celebrates the rite in two places: the church entrance for the first part, and inside for the second.
In tomorrow’s post, we’ll look at the rituals of the Rite of Acceptance, but mainly where the rubrics or texts differ from those used for adults. As such, we’ll probably take the rites in bigger gulps for the next week or two and cover a lot more ground. I’ll reference the parallel texts from the adult rites. If you are new to this series, all you’ll need to do is type “RCIA 48″ or whatever number in our search box on the right there. I plan to link to previous posts when I can do so.