LET LOVE BE SINCERE

LET LOVE BE SINCERE

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Oh No She (they) DIDN'T

A PLEA TO MY PRIESTS FRIENDS AND FRIENDS IN MINISTRY

Our family (praise God) belongs to an incredibly family-friendly parish.  Today, due to timing we decided to attend another Parish (not to be named).  We walked in a little after the start of Mass (#fourkidproblems), and before we were even in the pew, a women in front of us gave us a dirty look.  As we were sitting down, the woman turned around and told my youngest (2 years old) to be quiet.

At first I thought she was kidding.
clearly.

After about three minutes, lil' Aaron whispered (a legit whisper) to Big Aaron that he had to go the bathroom, as they went to leave the pew- John Paul not-so-whispered, 'I COME TOO!'.  The woman in front of us again turned around, gave me a dirty look and said, 'BE QUIET'.  She then turned to her husband and loudly asked/gestured if they could move pews.

FOR.REAL.

At that point, I whispered to her, 'you understand you are talking about BABIES right?'- and, instead of have a thrown down in the back of the church...

YES, WE WERE SITTING IN THE BACK AND THERE WAS NO CRY ROOM TO BE BANISHED TO.

... I grabbed Joey's hand and Malia and we moved to another section of the church.  The ushers gave us dirty looks, and frankly the entire vibe around us was weird.  Really, really, really weird.  I have never felt so many eyes on every sound my children made- even the whispers.

The Church was beautiful, and the congregation older.  My kids were by far the youngest in attendance, there was a smattering of elementary and middle school children as well.

Now, blog readers- you know I don't play this card often, but...

Maybe it was because Aaron is black?
or
Maybe it was because we have many young children?
or
Maybe it was because the Church is not a welcoming environment?

But I have NEVER had an experience like that in a place of worship. EVER.

And now, the plea.

Please, if you work for the Church in any capacity, even volunteer- speak to your staff, your community, and your daily Mass attendees about the importance of welcoming families.  The importance of children (even young ones) having a place at Mass.  The importance of understanding the community of believers is open to all, even the youngest of us.  Please speak to your staffs about how Jesus welcomed even children , and how he rebuked those who did not understand a child's place in the Kingdom, in the mystery of faith.  Please TEACH your community HOW to be child and young family friendly.

My husband and I have chosen to make faith a priority in our lives (even if we fail all the time at it)- and the experience today really shook me up.

I have worked for and with the Church since I was 15 years old (that's 20 years) and the experience today made me feel unwelcome and unloved in my own home.

Our family will return to Church (though not that specific location EVER), and I will frame this experience as a moment of weakness for a community that probably has a lot of good things about it.

The thing is, based on our experience today and the experiences of so many of my friends with young families who have similar stories... the NEED to discuss this with your parish is essential.

Put it in your Church bulletin
Put a reminder in your pews

DO SOMETHING.

Because it needs to be done.  What happened to our little family today at Mass shouldn't happen in a place of worship. It shouldn't happen during prayer.  And it certainly shouldn't happen at something as mysteriously beautiful as the Eucharist.

That is all.



EDIT- Apparently there was a cry room, we just couldn't find it :)

18 comments:

  1. I am so sorry that happened to you. Please print this post out and mail it to that church office. This story breaks my heart.

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  2. So sorry that happened- I wonder what these people think Heaven is going to be like? No kids allowed? Get out if you can't be perfectly quiet? What exactly are they praying about after they hurt you in that way? God grant we all learn more about love without conditions. <3 Please come visit our parish anytime you happen to be in Ann Arbor, MI- we'd LOVE to see you and your beautiful children at Old St. Pat's!!

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    1. I know! honestly, I kind of felt sympathy for the miserable woman (not charitable I know) after. I can't imagine being so hardened that children brought about that reaction in me, you know? And, maybe we will make a visit to Old St. Pat's!

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  3. I second what Kathleen said-it might be good to send this (or a letter) to the pastor of that parish, so that the parish will hopefully work on this. I am horrified that your family had to go through this experience. I am so glad that you and your husband aren't letting this one experience overshadow your whole experience of the Catholic Faith, but sadly, these kinds of things are what often push people away from the Faith. Thank you for encouraging all of us to make our parishes more welcoming! It is such a good reminder!

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    1. That's the thing- for us, our faith really isn't dependent on the reaction of others, but I am surprised how much it effected me. I would imagine some families would never return to a Catholic Church after that treatement you know? That's why I think it's so important to have these conversations in our parishes, so we make sure everyone understands their particular role in welcome.

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    2. Oh definitely-and I think it is really cool that you are using this experience as a chance for dialogue and growth! I've definitely been thinking about the whole "welcoming" aspect of parish life lately, since I read the book "Casting Nets," and since I recently started meeting with a middle-aged non-denominational Protestant woman to knit (super random). When I walk into parishes now, I wonder "if she walked in here by herself, would she feel welcome?"

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  4. Oh man! My blood is boiling for you Mary! I'm not sure I would have been as controlled as you but God bless you for being able to be calm in that awful situation. This is something that should definitely be brought to that parishes attention and other parishes.

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    1. Hafsa! It was so weird. I seriously almost started yelling (in Church) it was soley the grace of God that allowed me to go just move with my kids... it could have turned out much worse with this irish temper :)

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  5. wow - What an amazing experience. I am so glad this won't keep you away from church, but I will pray that no one else will feel so unwelcome they stop bringing their children to Mass.

    I have to say: I don't like the idea of cry rooms! Before, when I only had 2 children, and in the process of RCIA, I asked our deacon why we couldn't have a cry room like my MIL's parish in NJ and he said: "we don't have one because we want the children to be with us. How can they grow up to be adults in the church if they are not children in the church?" Wow. Immediate change of heart for me!

    As a now mom of 6 older children (youngest is almost 9) I try to find the parents of crying children after Mass and thank them for bringing their children to Mass. I really do like to hear the crying and noise: means we have a growing community. I like to think I do make a difference, even if only in one family, to make them feel welcome.

    You are always welcome to sit with us if you find yourself in SE Massachusetts!

    blessings!

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    1. I go back and forth with cry-rooms. Sometimes they are a godsend for us, when our kids are really losing it, because we feel like we can still somewhat participate in the Mass. And honestly, when the kids get disruptive, we do try to take them out. But this time, they really weren't even acting weird. I'd hate to imagine how this community would have dealt with a real meltdown right?

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  6. I've heard similar stories from other people about other parishes. Thank God, none of them was as extreme as yours. So I think it was about kid noise and that woman not understanding about bringing kids to church.

    But I'm not black, so maybe I'm missing the racial angle. Maybe that woman was angry that you have a biracial family. I don't know. Black people have been a minority in just about every Catholic church I've attended, so I try to be particularly kind to any black person I see at Mass. I want everybody to feel welcome at Mass, especially not people of color and people with small children!

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    1. Yea, I can't say with certainty that's what it was about, but it was SUCH a strange experience and the community was filled with mostly older people at this particular Mass. I think, to people who are older, seeing a mixed couple is still a bit challenging. So, while I'll never know for sure what it was about, I'll always maybe wonder about that?

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    2. Whoops, I meant to edit the last sentence so it was positive, but I forgot to delete that "not"—you knew what I meant, right?

      Hard to know what was in that woman's head. What happened first, seeing your family or hearing your child? In any case, maybe all her kids were perfect, back in the days when dinosaurs ruled the earth?

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  7. Oh, I can sympathize. An older woman yelled at my two yr old a while back for laughing, right during Mass. It was a daily mass with only about 5 people at Mass, all older woman too, so I confronted her immediately, telling her not to mess with my kids. Then I talked to Father about it after Mass and he said was so nice, saying he loved having the kids at Mass. I totally think it is so good for anyone at Mass to hear kids there. I'm not usually so forward, but I think it was the Holy Spirit, or the mama bear instinct, to speak up to this lady right away, because we don't have any other options for Mass. Thank God, a lot of the other older people at our church love my kids.

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    1. I gotta tell you- I really regret not staying after to talk to the woman about how inappropriate her response was. Well done mama for confronting the bad behavior right away. I always say it's so important to call stuff like that on, if only so that the offenders won't do it to someone else, or will think twice about it, in the future!

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