Diocesan News

Puppets Return to Family Mass at Forest Hills Parish

By AnnaMarie Prono

After a three-year hiatus, the Children’s Liturgy returned to Our Lady of Mercy parish, Forest Hills, on Good Shepherd Sunday. Families enjoyed a children’s version of the readings, saw the Gospel acted out by puppets and heard a child-friendly homily. Liturgy-based crafts and puzzles followed.

The puppets are back at Our Lady of Mercy parish in Forest Hills, thanks to Chris Hippeli and Angela Martin.

The Sunday Mass at noon is now the Family Mass. Before the readings, the presiding priest holds up the Children’s Lectionary and presents it to Hippeli, who then invites the children to join her and Martin in the parish hall.

The Children’s Liturgy welcomes youth through the fourth grade, as well as their parents.

Hippeli prepped the children to hear the readings, so that they were able to identify with Jesus and the time period in which he lived.

On Good Shepherd Sunday, April 22, she described the job of a shepherd, caring for his sheep, to that of Jesus caring for us and dying for us. The participants asked questions and offered their comments.

One kindergarten boy, Max, shared that he wants to raise sheep in his backyard when he grows up.

Then they listened to a children’s version of the readings, and watched the Gospel played out by puppets, with a child-friendly explanation of the Word.

Following the readings, students preparing for confirmation provided service by operating puppets of sheep, shepherds and Jesus. The children watched intently as they enjoyed the short animation.

Afterwards, parents and children gathered at tables to color pictures of Jesus and a sheep. Crayons and markers were provided for their use. Older children solved liturgy-based puzzles.

Another volunteer advised the group when the homily had finished upstairs in the church, and then everyone returned to Mass.

Sister Ann Barbara Desiano, I.M.H., started the Children’s Liturgy of the Word at Our Lady of Mercy more than15 years ago. After successfully using puppets in Vacation Bible School, she introduced the concept to the parish. This proved to be a great success.

Sister Ann Barbara has since moved on to lead retreats at Our Lady of Grace Spiritual Center in Manhasset, L.I. After more than a three-year hiatus without the Children’s Liturgy, Sister Ann Barbara said she is “happy to see it taking root again.”

The goal is to continue the Children’s Liturgy in conjunction with the noon Mass every Sunday. Local families and volunteers are welcome to join in this joy-filled ministry.