Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cry Rooms

I just posted the following on the Catholic Dads blog:

I'm curious to get the input from others in Catholic Dads-Land on the subject of cry rooms in churches.

Which of the following most accurately reflects your attitude toward cry rooms?

  • (a) Cry rooms are an abomination before the Lord.

  • (b) Cry rooms are a pretty neat idea.

  • (c) Meh. I don't have an opinion.

  • (d) Other: __________________________________________.

Personally, I am incurably in the (a) camp: Cry rooms are an abomination before the Lord.

The idea that a parish would tacitly — or, in some (many?) cases, not so tacitly — encourage families with young children to physically isolate themselves from the rest of the congregation seems rather inimical to the Faith (cf. Mark 10:13-15).

I recently read an article about a Chicago priest, Father Matt Foley,* who has volunteered to serve as an Army chaplain in Iraq, and how his parishioners at St. Agnes of Bohemia, to whom he has greatly endeared himself, will miss him.

The article notes made it known at the parish "how he enjoyed hearing babies cry during mass because they sounded full of life."

And how.

Now, I'm not saying that if any of our issue are throwing a tantrum or screaming bloody murder during Mass that we shouldn't bring them to the back of church for a time until they calm down.

But this to me seems markedly different from the idea that a church should have an entire room set aside for purposes of segregating families with young children from the rest of the congregation.

* (As a footnote, this article confirmed something I had heard several years ago about the aforesaid priest, Father Matt Foley, from someone I knew who used to teach at his parish's grade school: "Up through college, Foley was a troublemaker, a partyer. As a political science major at Marquette University, he played rugby with fellow student and soon-to-be-famous comedian Chris Farley, known for his life of excess. Farley, who died in 1997, named one of his most revered 'Saturday Night Live' characters, a bumbling motivational speaker, after Foley.")


Deb said...

A good friend of mine always joked he was going to write a master's thesis Called, "Cry rooms and the Culture of Death". Something to ponder.

John Jansen said...


Something to ponder, indeed!

Anonymous said...

I don't believe there should be cry rooms in churches because they are often misused. Instead of being used to calm your baby without disturbing other parishioners, I find that they're usually used as a play room for CHILDREN. Once have I seen an actual baby in a cry room.
I believe that once your child has reached the age of 3 there should be no excuse for having to take your child to a 'cry room' or the back of church. By that time parents should be teaching their children to sit quietly in their pew. Cry rooms just give an excuse for parents to allow their children to bring toys and play. Instead of teaching them to respect Church.

Vix said...

I have to agree with anonymous's comments.

Recently met Fr. Matt Foley, and attended one of his services. I believe his comments are indeed sincere, I have witnessed him taking care of mom's with distressed children at his rectory.

I'm uncertain about the aim in your footnote regarding his affilliation with Chris Farley. He has been indeed been candid about his past.

I have complete respect for a spiritual leader, that has never hid his past. Actually, I admire the changes, the spiritual leadership, and the respect he's earned from over 6,000 of his parishioners.

John Jansen said...


I have nothing but respect for Fr. Foley. The woman I mentioned in my post who used to teach at his school did, too.

And I share your respect for spiritual leaders (and, heck, for those who aren't spiritual leaders, too, for that matter) who are candid about their past.

My reason for mentioning the Chris Farley character was merely to point out that Fr. Foley is, in a manner of speaking, somewhat famous.