Puppets and Pulpit

Sal’s friend navy chaplain Jim Farrow had asked Sal while he was in transition to help out at two places. Jim said that it was almost impossible for him to meet all the needs of the Navy, as well as lending a hand to the San Diego Archdiocese. He requested that Sal say mass at the Mission church in San Diego on Saturday afternoon, and at the naval submarine base on Sunday morning. Sal had a friend who was a puppeteer, and after lengthy discussions with Jim Farrow they decided that they would focus the liturgy at the naval base on the children.

The naval base mass was built around a puppet show for the children, and this would only be continued if there were no objections from the parishioners.. The first time they did it the main story was on the lost sheep. All of the children came up to the altar, and Sal led the search for the lost sheep throughout the church, The children immediately responded to the puppet masses, but in fact Sal believed that the parents enjoyed them more than the children. All they heard in the next few weeks were compliments and the parents were thrilled they could engage their children in the story of the week.

The first time Sal celebrated mass at the Mission church it was packed to overflowing. San Diego is a marvelous city with hundreds of possible activities and a five o’clock Mass on Saturday met the need of all sorts of parishioners. The golfers could still fill their religious obligations while making early tee times on Sunday. This was also true of .boating enthusiasts and also those who wanted to sleep in, or have a long breakfast session reading the papers.

When Sal ascended the pulpit he gave his usual short sermon. He usually began with a story, ,and then developed the theme for today’s Christians. He had learned from his former parish that one of the best compliments that one could receive was when people said” I wish you had gone a little longer. “When he finished his sermon he was stunned at the reaction of the entire church. The parishioners all stood and applauded. After he gained his composure Sal thought “Boy they must hear some terrible sermons.”

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