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Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

Thank you ahead of time for your generous response in welcoming our Missionary, Fr. Jose, this weekend for our annual appeal.

This is a rare Sunday for me where I don’t have any public Masses. That being the case, I will be celebrating Mass with my family and some friends at my folks’ house this morning. There will be many children there, mostly under the age of 6, so it is guaranteed to be both a prayerful and lively time!

When I celebrate these Masses where it is equal part adults and children, and thus quite noisy at times, I always think of what it must have been like in the different stories we read about in the Gospels. I think we are tempted as we read about the Sermon on the Mount or other events that Jesus would stand there speaking and all was still and quiet. No, they would have been noisy events with parents and their children. Undoubtedly on the fringes of the crowd there would have been kids running freely and parents holding a fussing child. Just like now, I am sure there were moms or dads who were there trying to listen but only caught about half of what Jesus said because their son or daughter was having a meltdown. All of those events we read about in the Gospel would have had that great background murmur of little voices.

With school starting again I can’t tell you how good it is to have the sounds of kids laughing and talking floating around the parish campus. It is the same at Mass. Those moments when your son or daughter cut loose usually make me laugh a little. I know I have said it before but please always feel comfortable bringing your kids to Mass! This is how it should be. This letter of encouragement you may have seen says it the best.

To the parents of young children:

· Relax! God put the wiggle in children. Don’t feel like you have to suppress it in God’s house.

· Sit towards the front where it’s easier for your little ones to see and hear what’s going on. They tire of seeing the backs of heads.

· Quietly explain the parts of the service.

· Sing, pray, and give voice responses. Children learn by copying your involvement!

· If you have to leave the service with your child, feel free to do so, but come back! As Jesus said, “let the little children come to me.”

· Remember that the way we welcome children in church directly affects the way they respond to the Church, to God, and to one another. Let them know that they are at home here.

To the members of our congregation:

The presence of children is a gift to the Church and a reminder that our congregation is growing. Please welcome our children and give a smile of encouragement to their parents!”

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

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