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Guide for Breakout Implementation

Why use breakout sessions?

In Gather In My Name Option 2 (a multigenerational event with breakout sessions), the adults, children, and older youth come together for an opening activity and prayer, and then the children are divided into age-level breakout groups. This allows the parish leader to provide a more expansive presentation to the adults and older youth, while providing ways for children who are preparing to receive the sacraments to participate in an age-appropriate way. At the end of the session, the entire group regathers for a closing prayer and wrap-up.

What are the breakout groups?

  • The breakout group model is a way to provide age-appropriate catechesis for children while taking time with adults to offer more extensive catechesis. This option also allows time for sharing information with parents about the sacramental preparation program and can thus be used in lieu of a separate parent meeting.
  • As part of Option 2 in the Gather In My Name First Penance event "Forgiving Hearts," children who are preparing for First Penance meet in one or more groups after the opening prayer. Here they engage in sacramental catechesis and activities appropriate to their age level. Afterwards, they rejoin the large group for additional activities and the closing prayer.
  • If your parish has a large number of children preparing for First Penance, you may want to divide them into smaller groups rather than keeping them in a single group.
  • If there are older children preparing for First Penance, you may choose to gather them with the younger children. Or you may form them into a separate group. In either case, look for the purple highlights as a way to tailor activities and participation for older children.
  • Childcare is recommended for children under the age of four.

Who leads the breakout groups?

  • Catechetical teams (one or two catechists plus aides) can work together to plan and implement the breakout group session.
  • Teams might consist of catechists who are involved in the sacramental preparation program or volunteers who are recruited especially for Gather In My Name.
  • A children's coordinator should be appointed to assist children in finding their breakout groups and will alert catechists when it is time to rejoin the large group.

How much time do the breakout groups need?

  • The breakout groups are dismissed from the Gather In My Name session after the opening prayer service. They return to the large group in time for an additional activity and closing prayer.
  • Refer to the breakout group outline for an approximate time length for the session. Allow five minutes before and after the breakout group gatherings to convene and to rejoin the large group.

How do we prepare?

  • Click here to proceed to the First Penance breakout session for the "Forgiving Hearts" event. Use the same outline for each breakout group, adapting as needed for different age levels, needs, and interests. If you will combine the children into one group, invite older children to help mentor younger ones with activities.
  • Read each session outline in advance, and determine the activities and time allotments for each segment. Enlist the help of additional aides and volunteers as needed.
  • Encourage the children to share what they learned when they rejoin their families for the remainder of the Gather In My Name event.