Father Antoine Thomas, CSJ leading the children in praise during Eucharistic Adoration. Photo by Darren Boon
SINGAPORE – Putting a group of children into a room and expecting them to be silent for half an hour sounds like a recipe for disaster. But this is what some 50 adults from 15 parishes are planning to do with their children.
The move to start a community for children to adore the Eucharist began following a series of two talks held Apr 21 and 24 by visiting priest Father Antoine Thomas, CSJ at Church of the Holy Spirit.
Addressing the Apr 21 crowd of 500 adults, Father Antoine highlighted Eucharistic adoration as the “secret of family unity”. He cautioned against children making video games their best friend instead of Jesus, as this causes them to become disconnected from God and the world.
“One’s love for God is incomplete without spending time with Him in adoration,” said Father Antoine, adding that children may actually like the silence.
“There’s a need to introduce them to silence... filled with the presence of God,” he said. He noted that adults have to set an example for their children by praying together with them.
Youth and young adults pose for a photograph with Father Antoine Thomas, CSJ following a talk “Challenges of Teenagers in the Third Millennium” and Eucharistic Adoration at the Catholic Archdiocesan Youth Centre Apr 23. About 200 youths and adults attended the evening’s programme. Father Antoine highlighted that the youth of today are addicted to gadgets, moving from one gadget to the other in a day. This causes silence to be absent in one’s life, but silence is important in order to listen to God. One of the attendees Ivy Lam described the session as “good, interesting and impactful” which brought the youth and young adults to a realisation of their addiction to technology, and at the same time reminding them of the importance of silence. Photo provided by Catholic Archdiocesan Youth Centre
The Apr 24 talk saw a crowd of similar numbers but included about 100 children this time. Here, Father Antoine explained the Mass to the children.
The stole which the priest wears represents the suffering of Christ that the priest carries on his shoulders, while the lighted candles on the altar “signify the living presence of Christ”, said Father Antoine.
The priest, who belongs to the Congregation of St. John, said that those who do not listen to the Word of God proclaimed at Mass should not receive Holy Communion as they are not prepared by the unity that exists between the Word and the Eucharist.
After his talk, Father Antoine led the children in a half-hour Eucharistic adoration. It included short meditative silences, songs of praise, questions for the children, and a reading from the Bible.
Most of the children present remained still and reverent throughout the adoration period. Some later told CatholicNews that they enjoyed the Eucharistic Adoration and would like to experience something similar again.
“I think God is present with us. The adoration was really good. [Father Antoine] played some songs and this helps,” said Dylan Woodford, 12.
Marisa Chew, 10, said she enjoyed the music and learnt new things, especially about the Mass.
Some parents who attended the talks are interested in starting a community that allows children to adore the Eucharist regularly.
“I wanted to... share my experience of Eucharistic adoration with my children. I think it would be very good to have some sort of movement, and there will be an impetus to get something moving,” said Elaine Chan, who attended the adoration with her daughter and son.
Mdm Chan admitted that her son was fidgety during the adoration period. “There isn’t enough opportunity for children to do this. They are not used to it. When they are used to it, they will not get fidgety,” she said.
Simon Ong, another parent, said, “It’s high time for the Church of today to do something like that. Start the children early and give them exposure.”
Father Antoine has devised a children’s Eucharistic Adoration programme “Children of Hope” used in parishes worldwide. He continues to speak extensively on the subject and leads children in Eucharistic adoration in Catholic churches, schools, and at family conferences worldwide.
The Parish Pastoral Executive from Holy Spirit parish, Jarvis Tan, is coordinating efforts to start the community to promote Eucharistic adoration for children. An initial meeting and discussion is to take place within the next two months.
By Darren Boon