In Which I am Asked Not to Come to Mass . . . by a Priest

by | Jul 20, 2013 | Catholic Living, Parenting, Sacraments | 56 comments

The husband knows an awesome priest who likes to say, “You should remember that when you pray for humility . . . God just might humiliate you.”

I think he said it in reference to having tripped up on the altar, which I would do every day and twice on Sundays, rather than experience what I did this morning. But, hey, we don’t always get to pick our own mortifications, right?

And I have been praying for humility, so, score one for me . . .

Even though a run-in with a Church Lady who chastised me about my baby’s behavior in an adoration chapel is what inspired me to start writing this blog, I really have almost always felt very welcome with my young children at Masses all over the world.

We’ve had literally countless people come up to us and compliment the children’s behavior and thank us for bringing them with us to Mass. I have felt that with our Mass Survival Strategies and our Parenting With Authority that I really did have a handle on getting my kids through Mass. Not just surviving, but really having a manageable if not even pleasant experience.

Now, I should mention that that baby from the first blog post is now a toddler and as I (perhaps too) frequently bring up here, he is a real piece of work. But, I’m mostly able to keep his noise down to a babble and when he gets much past that, I take him out.

I have kept an eye on all the back and forth on babies and young children in Mass, notably Fr. Ryan Erlenbush’s

Crying children call to mind the mystery of the Mass

and Dr. Gregory Popcak’s

The Contraceptive Sanctuary: Why you SHOULD Bring Baby to Church

and Meg Hunter-Kilmer’s 

Your Screaming Kids Are Distracting Me

but I mostly felt that this was a philosophical discussion, and I was confident that I had the right answers. I knew that if any more grumpy parishioners came up to me (but why would they? my kids are great) I would know just what to say.

I just wasn’t expecting it to come from a priest.

I knew that this particular priest has given other mothers of young children a hard time in the past, to the point that my sister-in-law and her family, along with my husband’s parents have switched to a neighboring parish for Sunday Mass, which has a glowing environment of welcome for families. It’s a joy to be there. But for morning Mass, I tend to favor convenience and this parish is a quick and easy run from my in-law’s house (where we’re staying for the summer) and at a time which exactly allows me to get my big kids off to swim practice, load my two youngest into a single jogger (hey, we work with what we’ve got), run, attend Mass, stay for the Rosary, pick the kids up from swim and get them off to day camp, all by 10am. Whew.

So, I was taking what I could get, priest-wise. Hey, it’s still the Mass. And even this particular curmudgeon complimented my little guy just weeks ago and said how happy he was that we sat up front. So, I pat myself on the back — I thank you God that I am not like those other mothers with children who cannot be made to behave in Mass — aaaaaaand crash and burn in three, two, one . . . .

So Frankie hasn’t had a great couple of days, today was especially not great, and I had to take him out twice, which I did. I knelt in the side vestibule during the consecration, with the door to the church cracked open a bit so I could hear the consecration and keep an eye on both my crying 20 month old past the glass door outside and my sweet little four year old swinging her feet in the front pew. Not ideal, but I was trying my best.

Well, after Mass, the priest came up to me and informed me of the existence of the Church’s cry room (if you stop hearing from me abruptly one day, please assume that I was arrested for systematically filling all cry rooms in the country with cement).

There was a good deal of back and forth. (Which was a big improvement for me, my response to the Church Lady the first time around had been basically to open and close my mouth like a fish — not super effective.) 

I calmly shared all my bullet points for why my child, even if he is not perfectly behaved, has a right to be at the Mass in whatever seat we choose: he’s a baptized Catholic, this is how they learn, the Mass is for God’s edification not man’s, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.”

And the priest calmly explained to me that he is very surprised at my extraordinary selfishness, I am wrong about everything, no one can pray unless there is silence, and he knows a lot more than I do about scripture.

He flat out told me that if I had any concern for others I would leave my baby home (alone? with a dog nanny a la Peter Pan? he didn’t say) or just not come to Mass.

When I pushed him on it and asked if he really meant that if I wasn’t willing to sit in the cry room I was not welcome in Mass, he back-pedaled a bit and said that I just wasn’t to sit up front.

I left the church reeling (and also crying, stupid being pregnant).

I was prepared for this from another Church Lady and I was prepared to refute and, eventually if necessary, ignore her. Because, although I believe that courtesy to my fellow man is very, very important, I believe that it’s even more important to raise a new generation of good Catholics. After all, those fifteen old ladies at every parish’s daily Mass aren’t going to last forever.

But I didn’t get it from a Church Lady, I got it from a priest. A priest whose office deserves my respect even if his people skills, liturgical practices, and general worldview do not.

So, first step, of course, is to pray for him, which I will continue to do and I ask you to join me. But I also have to decide what to do.

My original plan was to show up to Mass early on Monday and take a poll of the regular attendees to see who wanted us there and who didn’t. Next I thought about sitting in the cry room but taping a bunch of posters to the window with slogans like “We Are Not Second Class Catholics” and “Tell Father to Let Us Out of Here!” It’s a really good thing I’m
married to my husband, you guys, or I probably would have done it.


Now that I’ve talked with my husband (and my friend Abby) I know that my choices are: Attend a different daily Mass which will be less convenient but will be welcoming to my family, or sit obediently in the back and attend the convenient Mass under protest. Because that priest is wrong, but it’s his parish.

I really think there could be benefits for myself in pursuing either option.

If I stay and sit at the back, I will be practicing humility and obedience. Those are good things for me to practice.

If I attend a different Mass, I will be getting a more pleasant and welcoming and almost certainly more reverent experience, I will also be able to offer my being inconvenienced as a prayer.

Even though I should NOT have had to experience this, and I pray not one more mother ever will, I know that either option has the potential to help me to grow in my faith. But the other thing I’m going to do is keep bringing my children, no matter their ages, to Mass. And I’m going to pray that some of my sons and some of yours will have a vocation to the priesthood and become holy and welcoming and truly pro-life priests. Because THAT is what will solve this problem.

Update: Since the Cry Room issue seems to be of interest to a lot of commenters, I have given it it’s own post AND LINK UP (my first one!). So, if you’d like to comment about cry rooms specifically, please head over here to Why I Would Like to Fill All Cry Rooms With Cement and comment or link up your own blog post.

Also, if you’re wondering what I decided to do about daily Mass, you’ll find the answer there.


    • Ms. B

      First off it is not fair to the three or 400 people in the church on Sunday for a bunch of screaming kids even though the parents get up they have disrupted the whole mass it is time consuming to get ready to be your very best go to mass and be one with Christ and worship him and in the middle of mass today for kids crying they’re in the back and there’s it’s an empty cry room with intercom pews toys in the cry room for the children Nobody’s using it as a school bus driver 50 kids on the bus are much better well behaved than 1-4 screaming kids in church and these are pacifier babies. Most of the parishioners that have those small children under seven that cannot make their children behave father stays home and takes care of the babies and mother goes dead mother gets home and father goes to the next mass what’s wrong with doing that

      • Sarah M

        The family that prays together stays together. Our children should see BOTH their parents worshipping together in unity, as one. Also, as Kendra stated, Jesus said ” let the little children come” not “let the children who are healthy and happy and dry and full come, and leave the cranky teething, hungry, bored stay at home with a relative. ” C.S Lewis says “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” I don’t have an aversion to cry rooms as long as I still have the ability to participate in worship….but do you think Mary left Jesus at home with Joseph when he was a teething cranky infant. Of course not. We are to raise are children in the ways of the Lord from birth.

  1. Laura

    Oh my! What an experience!

    Personally, I would probably go back to the same church and sit farther back (maybe not in the very back though). I would pick that over going to a different church because perhaps it will bear witness to the fact that children really do need to be at Mass – something this priest needs to see. I don't have experience with this – I'm not a mom. But leaving this church seems like it would affirm his viewpoint. Perhaps you could set up a meeting with him to let him know your intentions….

  2. Monica

    My prayers are with you. I don't know that I would be able to stay there without lots of resentment bubbling up during Mass. I'm so sorry! (and that'll teach you to pray for humility! I did that once and my skirt fell off at work.)

  3. JennyU

    my mom was physically assaulted by a priest almost 10 years ago, and while there are some lingering emotional and physical scars (he tore a tendon in her arm and she needed surgery), I've been amazed at how it has strengthened my parent's faith, and the faith of us as their kids. For a while it looked as if some siblings were teetering on the edge of walking away from the Church, but by God's grace, we're all still Catholic.

    I have nothing but respect for Catholics who are able to see past the human frailties of the priesthood's members and see the greater, more glorious reality of Christ's plan for His bride.

    Scoundrels and saints, just like the rest of the roster.

  4. Ann-Marie Ulczynski

    I am so sorry this happened. You could go even further and "kill" him with kindness. You know, have Frankie color him a picture, pick him flowers, make him cookies, etc. It would be interesting to see his response to a super duper dose of kindness after what he has said. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. I will be praying for you.

  5. Danielle Kuboushek

    So sad for you that this happened but inspired at your way of looking at it as an opportunity to grow in faith and your relationship with our Lord!!

  6. Melody

    I think your humility shows through in your gracious response and willingness to obey the priest even though he is wrong. So perhaps you are a little farther along in that area than you thought :). It sounds to me like you are doing a phenomenal job with integrating your children into the community of the mass setting. Bravo!

  7. Anonymous

    Sorry that happened to you…I would totally be crying as well.
    I would continue to go to that church, but sit further in the back, but not in the cry room, just in the back I'm totally all in favor of bringing babies and young kids to Mass (I do it all the time) but do think it is very distracting when someone carries a screaming child from the front of the church all the way to the back (and especially if happens several times during Mass so they are going back and forth). If I have a child that I think is going to need to be taken out, I prefer to sit in the back or more towards the back so I can make a quicker exit without walking past everyone..especially if I feel I may be going in and out a few times during Mass. To me, that just feels like the most considerate thing to do. Now, I totally get the value of sitting in the front row, and it is hard to predict how a kid will behave on any given day…but I don't like walking back and forth to the front row with a screaming child, as I do find that to be distracting..while it just seems less distracting if I am sitting more towards the back.

  8. Mrs. Mike

    No. He. Di'n't!

    You know, right around the time you had your run in with Church Lady, I had a similar experience with one of our associate pastors regarding my own toddler at daily Mass. I was mortified–not only because I became a blubbering fool as he was talking to me outside around other parishioners–but also appalled that any priest would dress down a mother of young children.

    It's a hot button issue for me. I still prefer to sit up front so they can see and I REALLY believe this encourages better behavior when they can watch what is going on during Mass. BUT (there's always a big butt!) I do try harder now (I guess I'm more sensitive) to take them to the back of church when they get noisy/distracting. It's just the season of my life right now and I accept it and am so very grateful for it…even the humbling moments like this.

  9. E

    Good grief! I can't believe this. I guess I would sit in the back and not in the cry room. (Can I help fill them all in with concrete with you?) You are right, we are all deserving of the grace at mass.

    Maybe inviting him to dinner at your home? Would he do that? Sometimes pursing a relationship with someone that is giving you a hard time can help soften everyone.

    I'm sorry this happened to you. I really hope and pray this is resolved in a humble, prudent, and loving way.

  10. Caitlin

    What strikes me most about this post is how much you get done before 10 am!

  11. Katharine B.

    Perhaps you should try a Latin Mass where I have found, despite the more reverent and silent atmosphere, children are more welcome. Maybe it's because one does not have to listen to what is being said at the Altar.

    Wherever you go, I agree that you should sit in the back. Anyone, let alone someone with a screaming child, going back and forth from the front is extremely distracting.

  12. Jeannie

    Kendra, I'm sorry. If I was really torn I might choose the more uncomfortable one for me, personally and offer it up. I know for me it would be so much more difficult to continue going and sit in the back. Another part of me says he needs the witness to family life and perhaps see if your sister-in-law can meet you for morning Mass with her little ones. 🙂 Or would that be a little bit of a "finger-in-your-eye" to the priest?

  13. Christie

    I am not Catholic so perhaps I am off base or just don't understand , but I don't see why sitting in the back (or even in the "cry" room) is such a big deal. We don't have a cry room at the Protestant church I attend. Instead, people with babies-toddlers leave them in the nursery where they play and learn about Jesus. Children come to church for part of the service, then leave after the children's message from the pastor. They then go to "children's church" where they can still learn about God and church customs but in a environment that is age appropriate for them. Loud and crying children are a distraction in church. There is no getting around that. Being in the back, or even in the cry room, would mean your children would still get the mass experience you want them to have without sacrificing everyone else's time of worship. Is there no equivalent to children's church at the Catholic Church?

    • Deltaflute

      Some churches have children's liturgy where the children listen to God's word in another room with a teacher. But thats only a portion of Mass. Catholics believe that everyone regardless of age should be allowed to worship God. And its mandatory past the age of reason which is 7.

      Some churches do offer a nusery which is where i take my kids. But not everyone agrees with that practice. The church leaves that up to the parents until age 7.

  14. Deltaflute

    Ive actually experienced the opposite. I got in trouble for taking my fussy child out of the sanctuary into the vestibule. You cant make all priests happy. You just got to do what you got to do. The priest isnt in charge of your children's education; you are.

  15. Katlin Marie

    Okay, the signs in the cry room part was pretty funny. But I'm sorry this happened to you. And you're right, the Mass is for ALL Catholics. Also, I'm totally going to read that book by Dr. Greg Popcak. I love his stuff.

  16. Nanacamille

    First of all the church is the House of God and the priest only administers it for Him. I would continue to go to the church of my choice any sit where I think best for my family. ..front if a good day and toward the back or not so good one. I try to kill protagonists with kindness and it usually works. Make this 6 priest Frankie's best friend. You don't need silence to pray online good intentions.

  17. Colleen

    I can't even believe this. I am so ashamed that a Catholic priest said this. Wow.

  18. Erica Saint

    oh Kendra, I am so sorry that this happened to you!
    Mass is for God. You do what best serves Him. End of story.

  19. Cynthia

    Oh my goodness…this made me so upset to hear! I'm so sorry that happened to you. My first reaction? Show up in the front row on Monday.

    But, then again, that wouldn't be so mature, would it?

    Second thought, I'd go and sit in the back. Not only does he need prayers, but perhaps this priest needs to see you and your kiddos each day. Get to know them. Get a homemade cookie or two from your littlest one. Who knows. Maybe he just needs a bit more love and a bit more family. And family…includes children.

    That's my two cents (from an unknown commenter). Prayers for you!

    • Kendra

      Only everything.

      I've never been inside one where families were making an attempt to participate in the Mass. I have experienced children loudly playing with baskets of noisy toys and parents chatting in full voice about their plans for the weekend.

      I think when you tell people they don't qualify to be a part of the actual community of believers, they act like it.

      But if a cry room exists I'm likely to be given zero tolerance for teaching my children to behave in Mass. "We have a place for kids, you should be in it," is often the attitude in those parishes. But I don't want my kids, even my toddlers, to learn that the Mass is playtime. I want them to learn to participate.

      I also think we should try to see every person who comes into that church, be it a noisy child, or a moaning disabled person, or an old man loudly complaining to his wife about why the priest won't speak up, as part of us — part of the body of Christ. Not as someone else's problem that we shouldn't have to be bothered with. That we should shut up in a special little room where we can pretend they don't exist.

      I just keep coming back to the fact that the Mass is for God. It's for what God would like not for what we would like. God made children and disabled people and the elderly and I feel certain that he wishes them all to be welcome at his Mass. It's his party and he invited everyone.

  20. Anonymous

    I would go to the church, not sit at the front but somewhere in the middle.
    As has been told to me many times since having my children, "Children belong in the church".
    My family attends a small Presbyterian church in our town (they participate in parts of the service then go down to Sunday School), that may make a difference, but I would stand my ground that children belong in the church and not in a Cry Room not participating.
    Also our church does Youth and Children Services where the youth and the children both take part and run the services a few times a year – I don't think that happens in Catholic churches, but maybe needs too as it brings awareness to the children and gives them confidence in the church. Just my opinion.

  21. Kim

    I have had some crazy priests say things too. Well, keep in mind, he is only human and he makes mistakes too. I think he was wrong in his approach for sure.

    I don't know what you should do but don't let his comment bother you too much. Maybe he just didn't know how to phrase it nicely etc…Of course you pray in silence, but you pray in noisy chaos too. God is in the noise too 🙂 If I waited until I had silence I would never pray at all.

    I know its a hot button topic–cry room arguments– send ppl into tizzys lol. I have read some heated discussions on this topic.

    If you don't like them then you shouldn't use them. Some people do. No one should be forced into one for sure.

    As for us, we use them. I just feel more comfortable there myself. But, we do teach our kids the mass and the other families in ours are respectful. They can be nice places depending on who is in them.

  22. Anonymous

    "A priest whose office deserves my respect even if his people skills, liturgical practices, and general worldview do not."

    This is such an amazing conclusion to be drawn from your experience – so humble and right. I'm VERY disappointed and confused as to why he did and said all he did, but you, still choosing to respect him because of his holy orders, is really beautiful.

    We all make mistakes and have bad opinions – I think this is one of his. I look forward to hearing how you handle the situation, and how you show him the beauty of sharing Mass and the Eucharist with little ones.

    God bless and enjoy your summer!

  23. Ana Martinez

    I hope the priest reads this blog. Maybe we should fill the cry rooms with cement. LOL Blessings

  24. cat

    Whatever your decision, have you considered writing a letter to his Bishop? I think you handled the situation really well, and obviously you will continue to attend Mass, although possibly elsewhere. But what about someone who is not as strong a Catholic? This seems to be a pattern of behavior for this priest, and I can imagine a young mother might be hurt and angered enough by such an encounter to give up going to Mass.

  25. Mother4

    There is no way for me to comment as it would take pages! I had a priest refuse to bless me at Communion! But, I would encourage you to write a letter to your Bishop. Nothing may change, but the hope is that he would be counseled as to the inappropriatness of his behavior.

  26. Lauren and Joe O'Brien

    I'm so sorry for you. I hate cry rooms too and prefer to sit in the back row where I can discreetly stand with my 1 yr old while still watching my 3 yr old in the pew and we all tend to end up in the vestibule by the consecration because my 1 yr old is super active and loud. My parents were big believers in sitting in the front row to make it easier for kids to pay attention but honestly it's never worked for me. I've been going to daily mass (once a week) since my daughter was born and some days are harder and some we make it through the whole mass (yay) but mostly I go to Latin mass so there are tons of other kids to provide background noise, and people are understanding and the cry rooms aren't used a ton. So no real advice but I'd be respectful to the priest, keep going to a daily mass (there or elsewhere) and pray that his heart softens towards children/he sees things more clearly some day.

  27. Renee

    My grandmother and father-in-law live in an assisted living/nursing home that has a chapel, so they have Mass twice a week. Usually just the elderly residents. Sometimes my husband goes with children, these elderly adore my children being there. All of them are wearing absorbent disposable underwear as well!

  28. Jenelle

    I am so sorry to hear that you have gone through this awful situation. Really, it is nothing but the height of rudeness and it is really upsetting to read.

    I remember our priest mentioning at the end of one Mass one time something like, "Thank you to all of the parents who week and and week out bring their children to Mass… we all understand how hard it must be to get everyone dressed and out the door on a Sunday and be here on time for 10.30. Also, I think there is nothing more beautiful than the sound of a baby crying at Mass because, it means they are here with us. So thank you to all parents for what you go through to get here each week!"

    We have no cry room.

  29. Christy from fountains of home

    I feel the same way about a cry room! I think they are just so awful and I've never used one and never will!

    But this is so sad on the priest's part. It makes me want to cry because at so many points in motherhood the sacraments feel like the only thing we have. When we're busy, drained, pregnant, constantly helping others and not being able to take much time for personal prayer the sacraments are what get us by. I know sometimes I get to Mass and it feels like such a balm for my tired soul. Even with noisy kids! I can't imagine your kids could be that badly behaved Kendra, I'm not sure what I would do in this situation but I know I'd struggle in dealing with it properly.

  30. Pam Anderson

    I am so sorry you had this experience – how frustrating and so very unChristian on the part of the priest. I will pray for him and your family. This does make me so very grateful for our parish – where my oldest daughter and 107 other 8-year-olds just celebrated their First Holy Communion in April. We have over 750 children in our parish religious Education program and another 5oo that attend our new Parish School 9it's 8 years old). The average age of our parishioners is 37 – so any of our 4 week-end Masses are filled with families and children. Our Priests – and even the older parishioners – are so very happy to see us all there. They appreciate and recognize that these children – who are sometimes noisy – are the future of their Parish and of the Catholic Faith. No one is ever made to feel unwelcome -and it saddens me that this is not the case in every Parish.

  31. Erin

    Wow! oh wow!! Have to say I think I'd be out the door searching for another parish. Not many churches here in Australia have crying rooms anymore, they've taken them out.

  32. Patricia M

    I liked your blog, except for this post. Since the moment I read it I felt like mmmm, I don´t like it. I don´t know what was the attitude or the exact words this priest used since we are only hearing your version, but I really think you might have taken what he said out of context or you really got into his nerves. First because he is authority at the Church and if he asked you to move to the crying room it was coming out of Charity and from his authority that you have to respect. So I think denying to move to the crying room was not ok. Charity? Yes Charity for all the people around you on the second, third, fourth row who have a hard time paying attention to Mass with an uneasy toddler. (But out of charity they don´t say anything to you) I don´t get it, I too have children and my oldest was really a stinker in Mass when he was a toddler, we also hated the crying room, but too many times we had to sit in the last row close to the entrance or hubby and I would take turns to take him out when he was out of control. That´s what God was calling ME to do as her mother. But why do other people have to go through the distractions when they come to daily Mass to have a deeper relationship with the Lord. I think the one sacrificing should be you and not all the people around that can´t focus and have to opt sitting away from you to be able to pray. Even for the priest must be distracting, have you ever try to give a lecture when some people are talking? You are right, this humility lesson comes from God, but I think you have the opportunity to question that you might be wrong, specially on the point that Mass is for God´s edification… It is also for Man´s salvation, otherwise there would be no sermon or we could be just sitting there without praying or listening to the readings or sermon and that would be ok. I hope you reconsider your position, I don´t want to judge but perhaps you can see in prayer if there is some selfishness or pride to put first your children and your need for them to be upfront when obviously is disturbing others.

    • Kendra

      Well, I'm glad you like the rest of the blog anyway.

      Since there isn't an official Church teaching on this, it's an area in which good Catholics can disagree. And I have to say, I really, really disagree with you on it. I think it's the wrong focus to have and I think it's not (little c) catholic.

      I encourage you to read the posts I linked to in the main post, plus the posts people have linked-up. You'll get to see first hand how much people have been hurt by that focus on silence rather than on community.

      And Bonnie from A Knotted Life made the excellent point that if you're looking for a distraction-free Mass, you're going to need a lot more rooms than just the cry room. You'll need the "Cleavage and Short-Shorts" room, the "Still Loudly Saying the Old Responses" room, the "Bad Singing" room, etc, etc, etc.

      OR we could all realize that we don't have a cloistered vocation, we're meant to find God in the world, in all it's noisiness and that recollectedness is a decision we make. My kids would really like to blame the squirrel outside for why they didn't get their math done. But, really, it's not the squirrel's fault.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with Patricia! Daily Mass especially has the great gift of being more reverent than Sunday Mass at my church, because it is a place where I can be still in His Eucharistic presence–something I so rarely get on Sundays. I get to daily Mass when I have childcare for my kids specifically to reconnect with Christ on my own terms and not my kids'. I'm not saying that Kendra doesn't have a right to be there, but for me daily Mass is for quiet and solitude. Bring the kids on Sunday, let the old timers have their peace.

    • The Momma

      I know this is an old post, but I'm only just now reading it. I heartily disagree with both Patricia and Anonymous above me. The problem with "bring the kids on Sunday, let the old timers have their peace" attitude is that eventually, the "old timers" are no more and if you're not bringing the kids to Daily Mass when you are able to do so, they will be less likely to go of their own volition when they get old enough to take themselves. The reason you see mostly "old timers" at Daily Mass is because it is not easy to get kids together and get everyone out the door to go to a Daily Mass before school (during the school year) or during the summer (when everyone likes to sleep later). When you manage it to make it happen, you shouldn't be made to feel bad for showing up with a little one who is a little noisy. How else are those little ones going to learn about deepening their own faith beyond Sundays if they're only ever brought to Mass on Sundays? Jesus said, "let the little children come unto me, but only on Sundays, not every day because every day would be too distracting for the old timers." Um, no, actually He didn't. What He said, was "let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." One of our local diocesan priests who is a dear family friend (and married my husband and I) told our congregation once how much he loves to hear babies crying and little ones chatting during Mass (Sunday or otherwise), because it means that the Church is alive and thriving — not dying. Would that ALL Catholics — priests, religious, and laity alike — had that attitude. The Church is the Body of Christ — not the Single Skin Cell of Christ — which is to say that we are a community together, a part of one another, brothers and sisters who ought to love each other as deeply and welcome each other as passionately as Christ loves and welcomes us all — regardless of age, size, talents, faithfulness, or any other outward appearance. There are places for silence in prayer, Mass — Sunday or Daily — ought not be a place where it is expected. I do think it is good to be considerate of fellow parishioners and the priest and if my child is having an absolute meltdown, I will take her out (I have all girls at the moment), but if she's being a bit chatty or fussy, I try to calm her at my seat (or my husband does if I'm singing in the choir) if at all possible. And the cry room? Um, no. Not happening. Kendra, scoot over and make room on the "fill them all with cement couch" because to quote Simcha Fisher, I have to sit down. 🙂

  33. Laura Rydberg

    So, the same thing happened to me yesterday, and although my mother-in-law took the kids for the day for me and my husband took me out for a nice dinner, I'm still smarting. I know what I need to do is hush up and sit in the cry room (all the parishes in our area are connected; no other option within an hour). I'll just keep telling myself "hairshirt, hairshirt, hairshirt," throughout.

    Thanks for writing this though. This morning I prayed that God would show me someone who understood, and He did. God bless you and keep up the good fight!

    • Kendra

      I'm so sorry Laura. It's the worst isn't it? But I'm so glad you found the post and it sounds like you have the right attitude about it. Please email me if you ever need to commiserate!

  34. Mantilla'd Threat

    I'm sorry this happened to you, Kendra. On the other hand, I'll bet you and your kids (and readers) could have a great time playing your "Making Excuses" game for the priest's actions. Submitted for your consideration: the priest wanted to build a fabulous fountain in front of the church with a statue of Divine Mercy in the middle, so he made a novena for finding an experienced cement mixer. 😉

  35. lucilletogni

    Thank you for writing this. I feel good knowing that we share the same opinion. I am sick and tired of getting yelled at for bringing a 2 year old to church. Give me a break!

  36. Becky

    I had this happen to me. We were attending the only Latin Mass in the area and one week my baby was rather babbly, no crying, just normal baby babbles. The church doesn't have a cry room, or entryway so the only option is to ignore the little noises or sit outside. Since my little one wasn't screaming and it was winter I stayed inside. The next week the priest gave a long sermon on taking children out of Mass when they make noise. Since I was the only one with a baby it was very obvious the sermon was for my husband and I. I was horrified and embarrassed After Mass I made a bee line for the car and cried. Thankfully my husband is very thick skinned and advised me to ignore Father's sermon. I wasn't very confident about my husbands advice but the very next week an older couple made a point after Mass to fawn over my baby and tell me how happy they are to hear her coos. There was a large group of people around and I asked if she was a distraction and everyone made a big fuss about how she just made normal baby noises that shouldn't bother anyone. The kindness those people showed me still brings me joy 3 years later. And it gave me the confidence to stay in Mass!

  37. Terri

    I'm glad that you remembered that priests are humans, too. But, that also means that that is not HIS church. As a mommy of 3 grown kiddos and a retired teacher from a parochial school, I do think I have a little bit of knowledge on the subject of kids in Mass. There is no way that they will ever learn to behave in Mass unless you take them to Mass. Normally, children do behave better up in the front because of all of the reasons that you stated. If one of your kids is at the stage where you do have to routinely leave Mass a few times, then it is best to sit toward the back to limit disruptions. However, if that day was an aberration and your kids are normally well behaved, then march your bottom up the aisle and sit in the front. That jerk doesn't own the church…don't get me wrong, I respect and love him for the vocation he chose; but, I call them like I see them and he acted like a jerk. And you have as much right as anyone else to worship God from the front, if you wish. If a priest asked a handicapped person to not sit at the front because their wheelchair distracted people, would we stand for that? I sure hope not. Priests are people who sin, just like everyone else. The whole "church scandal" was able to go on for so long because so many didn't feel as though they could disagree with a priest or call a priest out for his behavior. (That's not the only reason, I know) But, it is very important for the priests to be reminded that they are human and not the rulers of the church. When your children are ready, you sit in the best place that will give them the best experience and bring them closest to God…no matter what the priest said. I'm sure my opinion isn't widely held; but, when you work side by side each day with a priest who is pastor of a parochial school but, unfortunately doesn't particularly care for children, you learn that you must not only stand up for the rights of the children but you also must help the priest learn to love and respect the littlest worshipers of God. Perhaps you were sent to help him learn how to minister to these little angels.

  38. B Lancton

    This is my favorite post of the entire blog, even though I have no children and don't have the parental responsibility of teaching children to behave during Mass. However, children watch the adults around them and they watch the older kids around them, and they mimic them, so I do think we do bear some responsibility towards the little ones seated near us, even though we might not know their names. I've sometimes seen a restless toddler calmed by a nearby adult who discreetly redirected the child's attention, successfully quieting the child. It might have taken nothing more than a simple smile.

    I think the sound of a baby's babble echoing in church during Mass is almost invisible, and when I'm aware of it, it's a comfort. There is something very positive and optimistic in that sound (despite what the frustrated parents might be experiencing) that reminds me of the life of the Church, of the teachings of Christ, of grace, and of Love, which is why Christ died on the Cross and we are blessed with the sacrament of the Eucharist.

    Sure, sometimes kids get out of hand, but that's life. We all have our bad days. When the day comes for filling up cry rooms with cement, I'll be there, front and center. Or, they could be turned into "solitude rooms" for people who prefer isolation, which is what a cry room is, for those who do not want to be disturbed by the foibles, noises, and movements of the rest of humanity.

    May God bless those parents who work so hard to teach their children to participate in the Mass and to understand it, and may He bless those children, too. They accomplish more in 1 hour than I could dream of accomplishing in a week or more.

  39. Louise C

    1. The priest was wrong. 2. It is not his church, it is Jesus' church. 3. If he actually knew Scripture he wouldn't have made such a bone headed statement.

  40. Anne

    I feel your pain. This has recently happened to me too and just not sure how to handle it at all. When you have been part of a parish for so long and someone challenges your right to stay in the mass it can come as a real challenge to the faith.

  41. Jenn

    I needed this post today. I have a family with 5 small children 6,5,3,1,NB. My husband and I began attending 7am Mass at a different parish this summer because of my work schedule. After several months, we decided to make this Church our parish. We became members in December and were very excited! We felt like this particular church was home. We sit in the front and attend 7am Mass. It's quieter and a little quicker which holds the attention of my children. They love going there and we receive compliments on them frequently. My one year old has been a little loud lately so we take him to a side aisle and let him look at the statues or, in extreme cases, we take him to the back. Any chance we get, though, we attempt to rejoin the family.

    The priest at our new parish called today to tell me that our family was a distraction to him and the congregation. He said it is distracting when the baby cries, when we stand in the outside aisle, and sometimes when we are in the back. He pointed out that the back pew is reserved for children with families. I explained that I believe it is important for my children to be close to Christ. I also used the same line–"Let the little children come to me." I am saddened deeply, hurt beyond words, and kind of embarrassed. It has me thinking about all the people I have "subjected" my children to, and it makes me never want to leave the house again! Thankfully, we never resigned from our previous parish as we liked it there, too.

    I want to write a letter to my Archbishop and explain the circumstances. I told the priest that there is a reason people don't have large families any more and part of it is because they are not made to feel welcome. I also think this clique-ish mentality in some parishes is why there are so many leaving the Church. I have good reasons for writing. BUT, I also worry that I am writing out of revenge–so Father will be reprimanded. I know that feeling is not one from God. I guess I need to cool off first before taking any kind of action.

    When I got home (of course he called while I was at my daughters' dance class–Oh the tears!), I immediately checked your blog to see if anything like this has happened to you. I thank you for writing about your experiences. I feel less alone in the large family parenting world and comforted that I am actually getting this parenting thing right–once in a while!

    Have a blessed day!

    • Kendra

      Oh, I'm so sorry Jenn. I wish it was comforting that so many of us have experienced this, but it's not. It just infuriating. But I just have to keep reminding myself of the literally DOZENS of amazing, kind, welcoming, complimentary priests I have encountered in the last thirteen years.

      Priests are just people with a very important job. They can be wrong, they can be jerks.

      If it makes you feel any better, two years later, I feel like I've almost completely recovered. Almost. 😛

  42. Joy

    If you haven’t experienced this you most likely haven’t gone to Mass with little ones for quite a while. Too long of a story and it’s all water under the bridge now. Some leave and never return. Others go to other Parishes where they feel welcomed. Some like myself stay because this is my Parish and I’m still here after 35 plus years but many Priests have come and gone since those days of bringing young ones to Mass.

    Yes PLEASE PRAY for our Priest. They are under attack from the liar of lies and from every direction imaginable. We don’t walk in his shoes and we do not know what he is personally battling with that day.

    If the pews aren’t crying your Church is dying. ALL members of ALL families should be welcomed. Our present Priest verbally thanks the moms and dads for bringing their little ones to Mass. He loves to hear them when they are vocal. He even mentions them by name from the ambo in a positive way. Talk about a man of God. They come back and they come back as families.

    By the way we do not have a cry room, never had. All we have is a glassed in narthex. Yes Moms & Dads do bring their little ones back there at times but mostly it isn’t necessary.

    So yes obedience to Father and obedience to OUR FATHER in Heaven by giving the Faith to our children including regular attendance and participation at Mass. There is a way for all sides to be happy.

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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