How to lead a 30-minute dismissal session

RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) image posted by TeamRCIAThe basics of leading a dismissal session are not too difficult. There are three things to pay attention to:
1. The room
2. The flow of the faith sharing
3. The “so what”

The room

When you leave, you need to go somewhere. Make sure the room is prepared ahead of time. The faith sharing after dismissal is not catechesis. It is an extension of the liturgy. So, if possible, you want to go to a room other than the catechetical space. If that’s not possible, try to make the catechetical space look more like a prayer room and less like a classroom. You might want to have a candle, a cross, some flowers, and possibly a stand for the lectionary.

Have the chairs arranged in a circle, and place a Bible on each chair.

The flow

1 minute:
Try maintain an attitude of prayer as you gather. There will be time for socializing later. A simple way to keep the prayerful sense of the liturgy is to recite the refrain of the responsorial psalm from Mass and have the catechumens recite it back. If you are at all musical, by all means, sing it.

Next have everyone sit in the circle. Begin the faith sharing with a statement like this:

Today we heard readings from ______, _______, and ______. Tell us something you remember from the Gospel reading.

8 minutes:
What do you see? Encourage everyone to share something they remembered. After everyone has spoken, ask them to go deeper into the reading. Have them open their Bibles to the passage. Ask them each to name something they see in the reading. Keep going deeper, and keep focused on what they see. Characters, scenery, actions, crowds. Ask them to describe in as much details as they can.

8 minutes:
What do you hear? Now go around again, asking everyone what they hear in the reading. Background sounds, quietness, wind, people talking. Pay particular attention to questions they hear spoken. Ask them if they heard anything new or surprising.

So what?

8 minutes:
Ask everyone to reflect in silence for a minute on why they think these readings matter. After some silence, ask the group questions about what the readings mean. If your parish uses a question of the week, focus on that. Or ask how, having seen and heard what they have, their lives might be different in the coming week. Ask if they have discovered anything new about themselves, about God, or about the church. Ask what questions they are struggling with.

5 minutes:
Summarize what you heard from the group and close with a prayer of your own or the Lord’s Prayer.

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  1. This is an interesting approach to “Breaking Open the Word”. I find that being so new to the faith (scripture, doctrine, etc.) it is very difficult for the candidates to bring this out in their sharing about what they “heard” or “saw”. We find it more helpful to use a guide such as “Breaking Open the Word of God” from Paulist Press.

  2. As a Team member of our church RCIA, i found your website on this subject very helpful . I was shocked at how many subjects your website had on the many forms of the RCIA. Thank You so much for sharing your wisdom and and your help on “Breaking Open The Word” for our sunday sessions.


  3. with RCIC group on dismissal we found it helpful to ask questions of what colors was the priest wearing and why? What season are we in. What was the first, second and third reading. Usually 1-2 kids are quite good and will recite what they heard. The biggest thing with kids is to keep it pretty simple they will ask you the tough questions.

  4. Any ideas on actually getting them to understand the importance of attending Post Homily Scripture Sharing (or Breaking Open the Word)? Year-after-year we have an attendance issue. Thank you.

    • Hi Debbie. Have you asked the catechumens why they are not participating? Perhaps they don’t find the sessions compelling or interesting. If that’s the case, you can work on improving them.

      If they have no genuine reason for not participating in the sharing after dismissal, I would see that as an indication they are not yet ready to move forward in the process. I would continue to invite them to participate, but if they are unwilling or unable at this time, I would suggest they remain in the catechumenate (that is, not participate in the Rite of Election or the Rite of Initiation) until they have developed a sufficient formation to take on the responsibilities of living a Christian lifestyle.

  5. We currently have 16 catechumenate, and a 30minute dismissal session. How do you think is the best way to manage the time constraint without sacrificing content? Is it a practice to ask them to read the Readings1 & 2 and the Gospel before asking them questions about the readings?
    Thank you.

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