In the States, where schools try to teach via fun and games, some parishes hold a clown ministry. What do you think of that approach?
Clowns are an abomination, full stop. They should have been forbidden in the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not array oneself in oversized, garish clothing, nor adorn oneself with red noses, nor shall you cast upon the masses of the faithful buckets of tinsel........etc, etc and so on.
The sermon was general (with God all things are possible) and not directed to chidren.
Not good. Needs to be directed to the children in a manner they can understand, similar to how religion is taught in Catholic primary schools - and it needs to be brief, one simple point that they can take in and remember and no more than that.
The intetnions were strictly children: maybe 20 tots in succession
Nice idea, too many tots. People will suffer that kind of thing at a school concert but they shouldn't have to in church. Limit the numbers. Vary the ages, juniors, middles and seniors, three kids from each group, nine kids in total.
As a teacher you surely know how difficult it is to keep kids' attention.
Yes, it's a skill and there's an argument for having some kind of specialist training for priests in this area - ministry for children. Even teachers don't all have that skill of commanding and holding the attention of children, some have a natural gift but in general it's the years of experience that count. It is very
difficult to engage with a large group of children who are complete strangers to you. If the congregation is well established and the same children attend week after week then it's somewhat easier.
In an infant school I taught in, we had a wonderful priest. He was probably about 60 years old and had been preparing children for First Communion for many years. His church was located directly across the road from the school. He started by just popping in when the children were in their first year at school and chatting with the class. When they were six he would say mass for the first time. He would robe himself for the mass in front of the children, explaining what each garment was and why he wore it, in very simple terms. He would then explain everything on the altar etc. He remained very chatty and informal throughout the mass, explaining the prayers and so on but in a completely appropriate manner (no clowning). But Polonius, I really wish you could have seen our Principal in action. She was a wonderful lady from Donegal, she never raised her voice, ever. She could command absolute attention from a school hall filled with nearly 300 children aged four to six years. I watched them listen to her give the story of St Brigid, the Irish female patron saint and the children were absolutely transfixed, so it can
be done. She'd been teaching nearly forty years so, as I say, experience counts.
Just to finish I'd say that plenty of music and singing are very important in a childrens' mass.