That day Terrigal had two things going for it.
Firstly the parish priest had a double-sided triple-fold DL brochure printed with all the details, prayers and meditations needed to do the Divine Mercy novena from Good Friday till Divine Mercy Sunday. They were pre-folded in a nice basket on an outside table near the main entrance doors to the church. Good on him!
Secondly when we plonked down in the pew we found this laminated piece of paper. On it is both a welcome to young families, and an encouragement to parishioners to be intentionally welcoming of families. While I am still not sure about the long thin presentation of the message, nor some of the grammar, the message itself is brilliant:
Dear parents, grandparents, and carers of our littlest parishioners,
You are so welcome here!!
Please don't worry if your children wiggle, God put the wiggle in children, don't feel like it is not allowed in His house! We encourage you to sit towards the front where your children can see what is happening and quietly explain the parts of the mass, the prayers and music to them as it happens. They will learn their faith first and foremost through these moments with you and we are all here to support you and your family on this journey.
We ask for your help in making our young families feel welcome, a supportive smile or a kind word can go such a long way to a tired parent on a difficult day! These children are the future of our church and together we can make sure they know they are always welcome here and that they belong.
As Jesus said: "let the children come"
It is my hope that other parishes might do something similar, as long as they keep the same sentiments when they inevitably change the words. For me it hit all the right notes because it respected everyone's freedom at the same time as it gently invited everyone to take a step outside their comfort zone.
May all those children Jesus blessed individually on that day in the Gospel when the disciples tried to turn them away (Mark 10:13-16) pray for us, and for all families who bring their children to Jesus at Mass. Amen.