By Susan Gately - 21 September, 2018
At the beginning of its 7th year in operation, Children of the Eucharist (COTE) is growing and looking forward to its busiest year yet. The apostolate, set up under the auspices of the Apostolate of Eucharistic Adoration in Ireland, aims to enhance the faith of children by guiding them “gently and appropriately for their age in quiet prayer in the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist”.
It was founded by Antoinette Moynihan following the 2012 Eucharistic Congress and is now present in more than 100 schools, north and south, spreading in the past two years to England and Scotland. Moves are now afoot to begin COTE in the US and Malta.
In September the organisation is running two ‘Reboot’ days, similar to retreats, for its leaders. Last weekend’s ‘reboot’ day in Portlaoise attracted around 70 leaders. At the end of the month, a second day will be held in Letterkenny with a further 80 people expected, representing schools and parishes in the north, northwest and north midlands.
Ms Moynihan sees the movement growing organically and prefers to start small, with perhaps one class in a primary school and letting it then ripple out. “I say ‘start small’,” she told CatholicIreland. In Mayo, for example, there is great desire to begin the project, but Ms Moynihan insisted they begin with a pilot in two schools and take it from there.
The programme involves introducing children to Eucharistic Adoration for half an hour a week as part of their Religious Education (RE) class programme. People hear about it on the grapevine and, according to Ms Moynihan, often the person making contact with the group becomes a core leader. She sees all the leaders and their work as the work of the Holy Spirit drawing people to the apostolate.
Leaders receive training, are Garda vetted and trained in safeguarding, and then work with primary school children from 2nd to 6th class. The adoration has to be “integrated into a time frame”, explained Ms Moynihan. In the schools where the programme is running, parents and teachers have so far been very supportive. “The teachers don’t have to lead it [the adoration], as it is not part of the curriculum, but they love it. They get a moment to sit back and take the peace of the Lord in. The Lord is working on their hearts as well.”
Antoinette is married with two children, both of whom are in third level education now. With the growth of the ministry, she can be away from home for periods of time, sometimes weeks, but her family are very supportive, she says. She describes her husband, Peadar, as the St Joseph of the ministry. “He is so accepting and has a great faith himself,” she told CatholicIreland. “As an accountant, he practically funds the ministry.”
The feedback from the leaders about the effect of Eucharistic Adoration on the children is very positive. “The leaders see the impact on the children.” In three years, four children have been baptised. She recounts an experience of one leader in Northern Ireland who was on her way to Mass one day when she spotted two boys walking along. She began talking to them and discovered they were on their way to Mass too. “Mum and Dad don’t go, but we’re walking to Mass,” the older boy told her.
For further information on Children of the Eucharist, see www.childrenoftheeucharist.ie