What about this ministry at your parish?

I am not making this up… really…  a reader alerted me to this.   I see also that the young Papist found it too.

In the bulletin and on the website of St. Agatha Parish in Milton, MA, we learn that the puppet ministry is starting again…

St. Agatha Puppet Ministry
HE’S BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Fr. Charlie and his friends from Puppetville have returned from
their summer vacation! They are preparing for a Puppet Parable
which will be on Sunday, September 20th at the 9:00am Family Mass.
Join us for a special message as we begin our 6th season together!
Click here to learn more about Puppet Ministry at St Agatha Parish….

I don’t have a problem with the use of puppets for the instruction of children.  But not during Holy Mass.

Yes, during Mass.

From the website…


At what Mass do you perform?

Right now we are only performing once a month for the 9:00 Family Mass. We feel it is the best place to begin. Larger productions for the parish are a goal for the future and, possibly, as an outreach program for the community….but we are going to take “one step at a time”, pray, and let God lead us to where He wants us to go.

Do you have puppets during Masses at your parish?

I grant you that this puppet troupe doesn’t seem to be weird, as we see here.  I can see a useful application, I suppose.  They seem to be pretty nice puppets, actually.

But… during Mass?

Before… or after… in the church hall…

Am I wrong about this?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Gotta say it Father – you’re wrong on this one. Had to happen one day.


  2. capchoirgirl says:

    Sooo wrong in Mass. If this happened at a Mass I was attending, I’d walk out.

  3. PatrickV says:


    We don’t perform at Holy Mass. We worship. It may be innocuous in one sense, but it is harmful in another.

  4. Dr. K says:

    Father, we do have a local priest (yes, priest) who has used puppets during Mass. Here’s a link. The reporter asks in this interview: “Many say that you have a unique way of capturing their attention. For instance, some say you have a collection of puppets you sometimes use during Mass. How did you come up with these ideas?”. Worth pointing out that this priest I’m talking about is in charge of a College Newman center, so his puppetry was for college-aged adults.

    Puppets in Mass is a bit much, even for the Spirit of Vatican II crowd. I’m pretty sure there were no puppets in the early Christian churches that they so often try to recreate.

    ~Dr. K

  5. MargaretMN says:

    I’d take puppets at Mass over liturgical dance. But neither is a good idea due to the “performance” aspect.

  6. I don’t think that this is appropriate during Mass. Sunday School is good and all for things like this. But the Mass? No. If I saw something like this, I would walk out.

  7. chrisvomund says:

    I think the use of puppets to catechize children could be tremendously useful, provided solid theology is presented. I do not think the liturgy is the proper setting for such a thing and I am generally concerned when people start talking about “performing” during Mass, just like I don’t like cantors/choir members talking about “solos”.


  8. EXCHIEF says:

    In Religious Ed classes for the very young–yes. In Holy Mass–no. Like another poster, if puppets or liturgical dance finds its way into my Church I will find my way out of there–pronto.

  9. Agapified says:

    I’m waiting for a puppet TLM announcement from Father…

  10. maynardus says:

    I prefer ventriloquists and marionettes myself!

    Seriously, these folks are way behind the times! I recall attending a Sunday evening Mass – not a “children’s Mass” – in West Newton, Ma. at least 15 years ago at which the celebrant suddenly produced a sock puppet during his homily and began a dialogue with it! My wife – who was then my non-Catholic fiancée – was equally as shocked and appalled as I was. The priest is apparently known for these antics, every once in a while we’ll see his face on t.v. or in the newspaper and my wife will exclaim “there’s the puppet priest”. Our kids, who have been raised with the traditional Mass, think their mother is pulling their leg(s)…

  11. JohnE says:

    If it’s at Mass, I sure hope it’s only at the homily. I laugh, but you never know these days…

  12. Clinton says:

    No Father, you’re not wrong. When I see the Holy Father doing a puppet routine for the faithful, I’ll change my mind. If Father Charlie
    at St. Agatha’s thinks that’s never going to happen, he might want to ask himself why that is.

  13. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    I believe there was a moose puppet at one of the Christmas Masses in the town in which I live. I missed that, although I’ve seen lots of props at our church, including children making their first communion who have to sit at the altar and sing with the pastor, who plays his guitar and sings to them like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music, before the final blessing. The archdiocese of Boston needs direction.

  14. AndyMo says:

    Is it me, or does that puppet look like Fr. Undead Super Mario?

  15. gloriainexcelsis says:

    As a retired Children’s Librarian, I know the efficacy of puppets. I gave killer puppet shows that brought kids by the school busload to the library. We would have 12 or so shows in a two week period and have an audience total of 1800 kids. BUT – if I EVER attended a Mass with puppets – it would be the last one at that church. Catechism classes for kids? Sure. Creative puppetry with Bible stories would be great for K-6, adapted for age level. BUT – at Mass? for ANY age level? Stop the world. I want to get off. Having seen some videos of puppet Masses, I hate to imagine what Our Lord will have to say to those destroyers of liturgy.

  16. Miguel says:

    I’m waiting for a puppet TLM announcement from Father…
    Great, now I have this vision in my head of that puppet popping up over the celebrants shoulder saying, “Orate fratres” then disappearing, never to be seen again…

  17. TNCath says:

    As someone who grew up watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood and was present, via the miracle of television, for the the wedding of King Friday and Queen Sarah Saturday, I understand how puppets can have a positive influence on children. But no, NEVER AT MASS! This is just another example of the mistaken idea that Mass needs to be entertaining.

  18. patrick_f says:

    “and let God lead us to where He wants us to go.”

    Sometimes, God is behind you, screaming at you to get back, before the bus runs you over.

    The problem is, rather then addressing the problem which is poor cathecism, we are trying so desperately to compete with the gimics of the protestant churches. E.G. , there is a church in our diocese that added Screens to either side of the altar, which plays lyrics, and has sedative scenes…

    Fix the teaching, then people will sit in the church. I work with more people who “used to be catholic”. Some left because of the scandals, some left because of poor teaching. However we are NOT going to beat the Pop churches at their own game. It will always be paled in comparison. They have been doing the side shows WAY too long

    Our Identity is catholic. Not protestant, not pentecostal (I have my own qualms about the Charismatic movement… ), we are Catholic. As long as we keep trying to follow the flavor of the week, we will fail, because its not us, and people see through it.

  19. DavidJ says:

    Yeah, a priest at my parish breaks out a puppet once in a while. When it happens, my wife knows to brace for a torrent of gripes about it post-Mass.

  20. Warren says:

    Mass is heaven on earth, not a circus. There is still lots of catechetical work to be done, eh.

  21. I dare someone to suggest that to Msgr. Smith at St. B’s… I dare ya….

  22. Ellen says:

    If the priest used the puppet at a children’s Mass at the sermon, I’d have no problem with it. But keep puppets out of the Mass at any other time!

  23. ckdexterhaven says:

    Any time a puppet is used at mass, it is inappropriate. (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write).

    Why don’t these people trust in Our Lord? Our Lord brings children to him at Mass just as surely as he did 2000 years ago when he said ‘let the children come to me’. These crazy people don’t trust Our Lord, and they don’t trust kids either. Why not trust kids to “understand” Mass all by themselves?

  24. medievalist says:

    I’m waiting for a puppet TLM announcement from Father…

    I’m seeing amendments to the Summa Theologica

    Quaestio: If the puppet-thurifer bursts into flame when in contact with the smoking thurible, should the liturgy continue and, if it does, who properly takes the place of said thurifer?

    Disputatio: Some assert that…

  25. I am fearful for people at my parish to see this. They might get ideas.

  26. RichR says:

    Puppets are juvenile, entertaining, and comical.

    Is Mass?

  27. Sid says:

    1. Once again, Liberals use Holy Mass as their plaything, as a game, as theater, as spectacle, as entertainment, as incessant noise, as constant “doing something” — as anything but Holy Mass, and trash the Ordo. And when we oppose them, we’re see as “soooooooooo mean!”

    2. The larger issue is “Family Mass”, which I assume is just a euphemism for “Children’s Mass”. It’s high time that Children’s Mass be damned, along with “Teen Mass”. Children and teens ought go to Holy Mass with their parents, and thus reinforce the family unit rather than tearing it apart. Holy Mass done rightly and traditionally has elements that appeal not only to the mind rationally, verbally, and aesthetically, but also to all five senses. And children and teens have five senses too, and can learn to love Holy Mass. Parents, rather than giving their children something to play with, ought oblige them to pay attention — though I know well that for infants, toddlers, and the very young, some disorder is to be expected.

    Holy Mass is indeed about worship; it is also about not just education but formation.

    And there’s an architectural element as well. Church with the aesthetic appeal of a concrete bunker are hardly formation. Children attending Holy Mass at the Gesu in Rome will get lots of formation, and lots of joy.

  28. FrJimTucker says:

    I am all for using puppets for catechetical instruction for children (of all ages). I have upwards of 15 puppets myself. But the holy sacrifice of the Mass is not the place for it. Admittedly, I had tried this when I was a deacon . . . mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

  29. Aaron says:

    Mass provides a captive audience for whatever the leading organizers at a parish want to “share” with the people. If they did it after Mass or some weeknight in the parish hall, no one would sit through it, but at Mass people have to (at least that Sunday; maybe not the next one).

  30. irishgirl says:

    Puppets at Mass? Ewwww….soooo Seventies!

    If I saw this at a Mass I attended, I’d walk out quick!

    Mass is a sacrifice-not entertainment!

    As a wise and holy priest I knew said once, ‘Would this be appropriate at the foot of the Cross?’

  31. eyeclinic says:

    And the bishop in this diocese is whom?
    To whom do we address our grievances?

  32. Scott W. says:

    Mass provides a captive audience for whatever the leading organizers at a parish want to “share” with the people. If they did it after Mass or some weeknight in the parish hall, no one would sit through it, but at Mass people have to (at least that Sunday; maybe not the next one).

    Ding! Aaron wins the kewpie doll…or…I guess the kewpie puppet in this case. :)

  33. Ef-lover says:

    I have not seen a puppet mass thank God, but I have been to a mass where the priest began his homily with a micky mouse phone had the phone ring and pretended that the phone call was from Jesus. In my parish once a year at the end of year family mass they have about 10 children carry up objects in procession such as a basketball, beach ball, suitcase, tennis ball and racket, coloring book and crayons, plastic pail, or other summer toys and then each child tells about the toy and how it helps make us closer to God.

  34. cheekypinkgirl says:

    Yes, these puppets are wrong.

    But please, folks, don’t act like this is going on in all N.O. parishes.

  35. Sedgwick says:

    To be sung to “Meet the Muppets”:

    It’s time to meet Our Savior
    Send out the acolyte
    There’s no taboo behavior
    In our Novus Ordo rite!

    It’s time to pour the grape juice
    It’s time to pass the peace
    There’s no end to abuse
    May tradition’s tribe decrease!


  36. Jayna says:

    Not at Mass. Nope. Nada. Never.

    One of the priests at my parish used puppets once during his homily. He had a God puppet and a Satan puppet. It was horrifying and weirdly amusing at the same time. It was not instructive and definitely not conducive to promoting a reverent atmosphere. Actually, I felt uncomfortable the whole time, almost embarrassed to be there. It’s the same reaction I have to applause and dancing at Mass.

  37. MareD says:

    Irishgirl- ‘Would this be appropriate at the foot of the Cross?’

    I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    iudicame- “Gotta say it Father – you’re wrong on this one. Had to happen one day.”

    No, Fr. is not wrong and the use of puppetry during Mass did not ‘have’ to happen! It should have never happened. Puppets are used as a form of entertainment. We do not go to Mass to be entertained…rather we go to worship, adore, and be sanctified.

  38. Supertradmom says:

    I do not think this priest understands what he does, in the Person of Christ, at Holy Mass. If he really knew that he was re-enacting the Sacrifice on Calvary, could he undermine the sacredness of the event with puppets? And, what is this teaching the children? Again, the emphasis is on entertainment and not on worship, latria, the highest activity a human can do….

  39. NLucas says:

    I agree. I think puppets at Holy Mass are terrible, for the very good reasons spelled out in Father’s posting and in the combox. Let me be a cranky Trad for a moment, though, and ask: What is qualitatively different with “puppet ministry” and any of a whole list of liturgical innovations associated with the changes over the last forty or so years?

    What makes puppets any more of a performance than Marty Haugen/St Louis Jesuit show tunes belted out like Whitney Houston over keyboard backgrounds, or a mariachi band, or laypeople doing the readings like they were in a “meaningful poetry” reading competition, or a battery of laypeople administering Holy Communion, or a bevvy of altar girls cavorting on the altar in flip flops, or “Danny Boy” as the Communion verse at a funeral Mass?

    Is it a matter of personal taste, or is there a broader critique of allowing wide inculturation of the liturgy here?

    In Christ,

  40. Joanne says:

    I live a few towns away from St Agatha’s. I have been by it many times. It’s quite pretty on the outside, and my mother told me it is pretty inside too. I was browsing the RCAB website one day, looking for a different place to go to Mass, just for a change of pace. I thought of St Agatha’s and looked at their site. I decided based on the fact that they have a puppet Mass not to assist in any Mass there. (It was not the puppet Mass I was thinking of attending). And I have to second those who dislike family/children/teen Masses.

    I found out recently that the priest who offers the EF Mass near me, who used to be assigned to my OF parish, used puppets occasionally to explain concepts to children at our parish school. He has never used them during any Mass, EF or OF, that I am aware of. I couldn’t imagine him doing so.

  41. Perhaps because the rubrics do not explicitly forbid puppets at Mass, some like to be “creative.” I wonder if there will be another restriction in the next version of the GIRM. In any case, hopefully someone will nicely inform the priest (or Bishop) and the illicit activities will be moved to an appropriate venue.

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