April 16, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and the father of
nine children. He wrote an article a few years ago entitled “10 Family Mass Rules.Here is his
game plan for a meaningful Sunday Mass with the family.

First: We dress up.Though admittedly difÞcult to do with children, he Þnds it makes a big im-
pact and helps the children to appreciate that Mass is special. Second: We train the leader.
The older children are reminded that the younger siblings will act exactly as they do, so it is their
job to set a good example at Mass.

Third: We sit where you can see.He argues that kids cant pay attention to what they cant
see,so his family often sits in the front pew. They tell the kids that they want to be as close to
Christ as possible, who is present in the tabernacle and on the altar. Fourth: We review behavior
rules.They give speciÞc, age-appropriate expectations for each child. The 11-year-old has to
remember the Gospel, the 7-year-old has to shake hands,and so on. The kids must sit still,
kneel, or stand at all times. No crawling, no changing seats.

Fifth: We always hold toddlers.Hoopes says this rule was learned from experience, that of
chasing a child down the aisle to prevent her from going on the altar. He says giving toddlers
even a taste of freedom at Mass is too big a temptation.So they hold them. Sixth: We bring
aids, not distractions.He and his wife bring devotional books such as The Mass for Children
rather than toys or food. We want everything we have to say pray time, not play time.

Seventh: We address problems right away.When a child is acting up, they remove him or her
right away for a little chat, even if that means walking all the way to the back of church. Eighth:
We always go, and never make excuses.He says that parents can come up with many reasons
for why they cant attend Mass this week. But he doesnt want his children to grow up thinking
its OK to skip Mass when things arent perfect.

Ninth: Sing, pray, listen.He writes the most important, long-lasting, and meaningful practice to
instill a love for the Mass in your children is to love it yourself. If you sing the songs, pray the
prayers, and listen to the readings, your children will notice, and imitate you.” “Tenth: Invite
someone to Mass.He encourages parents to invite someone to attend Mass with them at least
once a year. We have done this for non-Catholic friends, lapsed Catholic friends, single friends,
and visiting families.We want others to experience what we receive at Mass.

Each family is different, and you may have an entirely different approach to parenting and how to
best cultivate faith in the lives of your children. Rest assured that we want your family at Mass
even if you disagree with Hoopesgame plan. Our church would be a very dull place without the
pitter-patter of little feet and the occasional outburst. I appreciate the heroic efforts of so many
parents and grandparents to get the children dressed and ready for Mass week after week.

In Christ,
Father Matt