May 26, 2023

Saint Meinrad seminary seeks to revive children’s participation at Mass through new project

A mother and her three sons take part in a 2021 Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis. (Criterion file photo by Natalie Hoefer)

A mother and her three sons take part in a 2021 Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis. (Criterion file photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Criterion staff report

In the midst of the three-year National Eucharistic Revival, Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad is starting an initiative to help revive the involvement of children in Sunday Mass.

The “Children’s Revival of Participation at Sunday Mass” is funded by a $1.25 million grant from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, Inc., and its Nurturing Children Initiative, which involves 26 organizations, including Saint Meinrad.

Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, which operates the seminary and school of theology, is the recipient of the grant.

Saint Meinrad’s project aims to increase the capacity of parishes to incorporate children’s leadership and children’s ways of worship into its regular Sunday Masses.

Experts in liturgy, catechesis and child development will help parishes invigorate music, movement, preaching and praying in ways that invite children to lead the whole congregation from worship into witness.

To pilot concrete efforts, Saint Meinrad will seek 10 to 15 partner parishes eager to make their Sunday Eucharist the source and summit of all activities that nurture the faith of children.

Parishes will plan and implement their first Children’s Revival efforts in 2024, just as the National Eucharistic Revival is moving from its Year of Parish Revival in 2023-24 to its Year of Mission in 2024-25.

“Intergenerational parishes thrive and our eucharistic faith shines forth when children are seen, heard and valued in the Church’s central act of corporate worship,” says project supervisor Nathaniel Marx, a faculty member at Saint Meinrad.

In comments made to The Criterion, Marx emphasized how the “Children’s Revival of Participation at Sunday Mass” can ultimately bring parishioners of all ages to a deeper encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, which is a primary goal of the National Eucharistic Revival.

“Young and old alike, we’re all on the same pilgrimage, including the young disciples still waiting to receive their first Communion,” Marx said. “But Jesus tells us that we all must ‘become like children’ if we want to reach our heavenly destination, and that whoever welcomes a child in Jesus’s name welcomes Jesus himself” (Mt 18:1-5).

“So, by renewing how our parishes welcome children into the celebration of Sunday Mass, we’re renewing how we welcome Christ in the Eucharist and journey with him ‘to become the children of God’ and to inherit the kingdom of God as the bishops urge” (Jn 1:12).

(Sean Gallagher contributed to this article. For more information or to inquire about becoming a partner parish in the Children’s Revival project, contact Nathaniel Marx at

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