Great vocations poster

A great poster from a diocesan vocations office:


This is from the Diocese of Raleigh.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Dominic says:

    Kudos to the Diocese of Raleigh. It just shows how having an excellent Bishop (Michael Burbridge) makes all the difference to a Diocese. If only other bishops would follow where he leads….

  2. Michael Stevens says:

    And he’s celebrating with incense! And no clown wig!

  3. bryan says:

    I can remember doing this when I was his age. Was facing the other way, though. :)

    (Never took hold, I guess. The jesuits at Fordham in the 70s beat it out of anyone that they even sensed had an interest in the priesthood as a vocation, unless you made it clear that you were willing to embrace an alternative lifestyle. Sad.)

  4. David says:

    This makes one proud to be from the Raleigh diocese!

  5. Dominic says:

    Nice Zuchetto too…though surely he should know not to wear it while playing Mass?

  6. TNCath says:

    Marvelous! It really does say it all. I notice he attempts the “Benedictine arrangement” with the crucifix on the altar. Somebody needs to clue him in that a hand towel makes a dandy chalice veil!

  7. jacobus says:

    Who is this supposed to appeal to exactly? Middle aged women (no offense intended to middle aged women, but this seems like something that would appeal to them. Unfortunately, they can’t be priests)? I’m in the intended age group (mid 20s, orthodox, educated) and this does absolutely nothing for me. In fact, if I thought I might have a vocation to the priesthood, it would make me much more likely to head over to the FSSP or ICR, where the priests are grownups.

  8. jacobus says:

    On second thought, maybe it is intended for middle aged women. Supportive mothers are surely great vocation incubators.

  9. Rellis says:

    Am I the only one who finds children mocking the Mass to be creepy and wrong? Doesn’t it show disrespect for the Mass to allow children to reduce it to play? This poster really disturbs me. [You must be kidding! – Fr. Z]

  10. Tom says:

    On who this is targeted to – I am not positive this is what they were looking for but my 11 year old who believes that he will be a priest when he grows up – looked over my shoulder while I was reading the post and happily exclaimed he wanted that poster for his room. So maybe it is not shooting to get the middleaged women of the diocese after all.

    I have found that there is very little for the younger ones who are already hearing the call – this certainly hit the mark for him – instead going for the older teenagers.

    Now if more dioceses (especially the Diocese of Charleston)would do more for the younger groups.

  11. Willebrord says:

    Yikes, that Mass set looks almost exactly like my old one (though we’ve lost some of the parts, I have my altar cross on my desk, and the thurible really works!).

    Though there seems something creepy about this particular picture… of course when I was at that age I was facing ad orientam (I had an old cartoon Mass book similar to “Know Your Mass” that made me want the Tridentine Mass even then).

  12. Supertradmom says:

    OK, to play Mass is not creepy, but very much part of the growing up of Catholic children. When I was little, my brother and I used to “play” Mass with a stool, my plastic tea set complete with candelabras, pre-school Mass books, a cracker, and water. We wore robes with our little rosaries on the belts, and my brother practiced his altar-boy responses that he would someday say. We were very serious, respectful, and were trying to practice the Latin as well, which must have been somewhat humorous. My parents, very orthodox and still, in their late eighties, good Catholics, let us do this. If the boys were playing Mass, (I have three brothers), it was seen as role playing, just as playing fireman, banker, baker, or policeman imitations were seen as such.

    As a Mom, I let my only son play Mass,and he did so spontaneously. He is going to seminary in two years. Also, I have taught the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, which encourages children to use small items connected with the sacraments in order to understand both symbolism and efficacy of the sacraments.

    In addition, for the record, I baptized all my dolls, all twenty of them, when I was about five years old. My mother wondered why Raggedy Ann had a splotch on her forehead. I had seen my dad baptize a baby born too early in our house, so it was part of the entire practice of being a Catholic mom in case of emergency! Children learn by imitating. I hope no one is disturbed by these reminiscences, but I am sure in the “old days” children played Mass more frequently than now.

  13. Christian says:

    I’m loving the baroque shaped ‘chasuble’.


    There is nothing wrong with children ‘playing Mass’. I has been considered a sure way of encouraging and, if done, spotting, a vocation. Cardinal Merry del Val had a whole chapel when he was young and one can even find the tiny sets made to encourage vocations in the eighteenth century in some museums.

    I went on a vocations weekend retreat for my diocese a two years ago and one of the things in the booklet that said indicates that you might have a vocation was ‘did you play Mass as a child?’

  14. I would like it better if he was ad orientem.

  15. W. Schrift says:

    Haha, I knew there would be a few miserly comments critiquing the kid’s “ars celebrandi.”

    The poster has a good message. I don’t think it’s intended to reach a certain audience with its “juvenile” subject, but instead to visualize the point that “no one is born a priest.” Vocations are supposed to be nurtured and grown by a family, and the image of a child play-celebrating Mass is an illustration of that.

  16. Susan Peterson says:

    I grew up with some Catholic children, who told me all about what they learned in CCD,including the Our Father in Latin.
    The neighborhood, for some reason, was all girls. One of them one day wanted to play mass, but another one said,”No, we can’t do that because we don’t have any boys.”
    Susan Peterson

  17. CM says:

    This is not only very cute, but perfectly acceptable. I “played” Mass as a child, and while I enjoyed it, I also made sure to do everything properly and with respect. My only regret is that I had no idea when I was young that the Tridentine Mass even existed! I am sure if I had known, I would have done so ad orientem, and my grandmother would have made me a fiddleback chasuble instead of a gothic one! Though at the age of 7, I might have burned the house down with the incense. Seriously though, there are a lot of good things coming out of the Diocese of Raleigh, thanks to Bishop Burbidge. He has also recently released new norms for the Celebration of the Mass, which are very orthodox and will hopefully put an end to the liturgical chaos that has plagued this diocese for the past thirty years. Note especially his emphasis on proper music, aka Gregorian Chant, proper postures at Mass “no holding hands during the Our Father” and the use of Latin.

  18. Peg says:

    My brother and I used to “play” Mass when we were young. We would save all the white Necco candies to use as “communion”.

  19. Rellis says:

    I like to think that I’m a pretty conservative Catholic, and I admit I might be wrong on the matter. However, I just can’t get over the creepiness aspect of this whole thing. As a child, I used to do this with my brother (playing the responsor) myself when I was about five, and have been guilty about it for years. It seems like I was childishly celebrating the Mass in effigy. Better to have been a good participant and altar server when I got older.

  20. David Andrew says:

    I should have known, as a young Presbyterian at the tender age of 10 that I was destined to convert. I purchased an old used recording (vinyl, of course) of the Mass in Gregorian chant from the local library during a book sale, and inside the jacket with the album was a phenomenal book with an explanation of the history of the Mass, along with the complete text (parallel columns with Latin and English, and the rubrics in a center column in red no less) and photographs of who I think was Fulton Sheen as the priest celebrant demonstrating various parts of the Mass.

    I became fascinated and set up a high altar (ad orientem, of course) in my play room and would play the record and follow the texts and go through the motions as best as I could.

    I’m now an orthodox Roman Catholic, and while I’m not a priest, I do work as a musician and can’t imagine doing anything else.

  21. shana sfo says:

    My 12 year old son has been playing at being a priest since he was a very young child. He used to use my ornamental brass liquor cups as little chalices and the tray they came on as a paten, using crackers or cookies as hosts, until he bought his own little silver-plate chalice at a garage sale.

    At first, he had mostly stuffed animals as his congregation, but now he has at least one younger sister who will “assist”. (His toddler brothers don’t quite get it yet) She is also *very* critical of his homilies, so he’s getting good practice! He prays the rosary, and I’ve bought him a very short version of the Office of Hours, so he can learn to pray morning and evening prayer.

    But playing at being a priest has really allowed him to work out his sense of a vocation just as one of his older sisters tests her desire to be a pastry chef by baking increasingly complicated recipes from scratch. There is nothing ‘creepy’ about it, especially if one is in a position to watch children explore a multitude of jobs, careers and vocations through play every day.

    He does want to be a priest, and although he is a genius at math (already in algebra and geometry) his whole heart is for the priesthood.

  22. Supertradmom says:

    “Let the little children come to me”….We loved our moms and dads, therefore, we played “house”; we loved our aunt, who was a nurse, therefore, we played “nurse”; we loved our teachers and, therefore, played “teacher”; we loved our priest, the Eucharistic Presence of Christ, therefore, we played Mass.

  23. Brad Watkins says:

    Thank you for highlighting our ad! More information about the ad can be found at Roman Catholic Vocations

  24. Hidden One says:

    I want that poster… plastered all over my diocese.

  25. Serafino says:

    I know of very few priests who didn’t “play” Mass as a child. I certainly did! Being Italian, I used a few drops of real wine at my “celebrations.” Maybe that’s why even in those days, I didn’t mind bination. LOL.

  26. Maureen says:

    The first time I heard about kids playing Mass, I did think it was creepy; but only because I grew up in a non-Catholic neighborhood, in a time when we were never encouraged to think about becoming religious. So I’d never seen or heard about it before. But the more I read the lives of saints or the reminiscences of older Catholics, the more I read fond remembrances of playing Mass, playing nuns, playing martyrs, playing missionaries, playing crusaders, and so forth. St. Therese played at being hermits for about a year!

    So hurray for the poster. I bet there’s a lot of young boys out there who suddenly realize that it’s okay to play Mass, like they’ve been latently wanting to do or doing in secret. Likewise, a lot of parents may realize that there’s nothing creepy in what their kids have been up to.

  27. Daniel Anselmo says:

    I *still* (at 23) play Mass, both forms… haha…
    (Maybe as a way of consolation given the rather bad liturgy we have around here.)

  28. Tiny says:

    What makes it great is that, according to the link given by Brad, this is no photo shoot!

  29. Margaret says:

    What an adorable poster. Makes this vocation-nurturing mommy want to nurture those vocations even more. (Hear that, Lord??? If you’re going to give me FIVE BOYS who do such damage to the furniture and walls, one had better become a priest, AT THE VERY LEAST!!!) :-)

    My oldest played Mass when he was barely two years old. I was completely floored at his eye for detail– he turned a trunk into an altar, topped with his blankie and a stand-up crucifix. He stuck his bottle of milk on the window sill, then processed down to bring it up as an offertory, and proceeded to “consecrate” it. After taking a sip himself, he came over and very seriously offered me a swig, too…

  30. Who is this supposed to appeal to exactly?

    The text of the poster makes it quite clear that the poster is aimed at families in order to encourage them to play their part in fostering priestly vocations. Kudos to whoever noted that part of Sacramentum Caritatis and decided to ‘run’ with this poster campaign.

  31. Joan Moore says:

    I cannot understand those who find this poster “creepy”. Children use play to explore many professions – particularly the medical profession, police, fireman, etc. Why not the priesthood? What on earth could be creepy about that?

    I understand that my oldest brother played at being a priest when he was two years old. He celebrated his 50th anniversary of ordination three years ago!

    If boys do not play at being a priest, will they ever think of actually being one? Perhaps, but more likely, no.

  32. Philip says:

    I just hope that the Diocese of Raleigh is willing to accept its priests and seminarians wearing the zucchetto as sign of their celibate state.

  33. David says:

    Does anyone know how many seminarians the Raleigh diocese currently has?

  34. a catechist says:

    My 5 yr. old saw the picture over my shoulder on the RCV blog a few days ago & immediately asked me to find a box for him to be an altar, find the right things to be sacred vessels, etc. And then he asked for my paper missalette to read from. I was completely floored!! But let me tell you, I RAN to get them.

    If it were up to me, this poster would be reproduced on every marriage prep & infant baptism prep handout, meeting room, and video in the country.

  35. RBrown says:

    Am I the only one who finds children mocking the Mass to be creepy and wrong? Doesn’t it show disrespect for the Mass to allow children to reduce it to play? This poster really disturbs me.
    Comment by Rellis

    In very, very Catholic homes “playing mass” was fairly common. In fact, in her autobio Ste Terese mentions it.

  36. Catholic Mom says:

    This poster is most definitely aimed at families as well as entire Catholic communities. Vocations must be nurtured. To that end, your parish religious education department needs your help!Parents cannot teach what they do not know. Please consider offering your time, talent and treasure to teach both children and adults about the faith. It is a tragedy to let vocations die on the vine.

  37. Fr. Angel says:


    Children who are baptized and have not yet committed a mortal sin are little saints. When they are praying, it is beyond cute and adorable. I cannot think of a prayer which is more pleasing to the Blessed Trinity than the prayers from one of the little ones, whose angels always behold their Father in heaven.

    If a child praying the Mass is creepy, you should bless yourself with holy water and say the St. Michael prayer, because only the Prince of Darkness would inspire us to feel creepy at the sight of children at prayer. I understand you are wanting the Mass to be respected, but this is how many, many priests like me started on the road to the priesthood. Our parents encouraged us and allowed the service of the altar to be in our imagination and play time.

    I have seen dozens of vocations posters. This one takes the blue ribbon hands down. In the Hispanic, Catholic community I grew up in, nothing, but nothing makes the moms and grandmas more excited than seeing their little boys want to play Mass. I imagine that the same can be said of traditional Catholic families of whatever culture.

    It was a real stroke of genius for Raleigh to tap into that sense and encourage the good work of the parents whose love for the Church moves their young ones to join together in play Mass.

  38. Anne says:

    Does anyone know how many seminarians the Raleigh diocese currently has?

    I believe we have 16.

  39. Derik Castillo says:

    I wish posters like this were more abundant. I never considered
    being a priest a ‘real’ profession option (that is, at the
    same level of medical doctor, engineer or biologist) until it was
    too late. I think that children who play mass may also make good
    altar servers.


  40. Mark M says:

    Apparently Raleigh is going to get these printed. I wonder if they’ll let other Dioceses nab them? (I think they should!)

  41. Catholic Mom says:

    Mark M, Do not expect to see these in the Diocese of Arlington. I passed it on to the Director of Vocations and promptly got two thumbs down! It is not “manly” enough for them.

  42. David Andrew says:

    I hope this isn’t a “rabbit hole,” but I wonder how many adult lay folk out there have, like myself, assembled a home altar for devotional purposes?

    ISTM that the only difference between young boys who “play Mass” and adults who erect home altars for their daily prayer and devotions is age (and gender).

    Also, as a music director in a suburban parish, I’d be truly amazed if any of our very few male altar servers feel compelled to “play Mass” or attempt to imitate at home what they see in church on a weekly basis. Don’t get me wrong . . . our priests, thank God, are by contemporary standards reverent in their ars celebrandi, but nevertheless they’re wedded to the rather watered-down post-VCII liturgical standard. It’s hard to imagine a young potential aspirant wanting to imitate at play what they see and hear week to week.

    (And, compare the above to, for instance, the number of young men who end up in seminary from St. Agnes in St. Paul, where the NO iN Latin is celebrated weekly, with altar boys. I wonder how many boys from there “play” Mass at home!?)

  43. Mark M says:


    Interesting, I just blogged about that, but before I saw this.

  44. CONFESSION: Before I entered high school seminary, while still in Catholic grade school, I used to play priest and celebrate pretend Masses in our basement with my three younger brothers as ushers and altar servers. I even took up a collection (which was used to burn a candle at Church)! AND we celebrated AD ORIENTEM since our missals once belonged to our mother and they had the Extraordinary Form (even though this took place in the 1970’s)

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