On Monday I had eight children, to whom I gave four instructions. I was trying my scheme all alone. On the next day, each child brought two others, and by Thursday I had fifty-nine, not counting the young men and girls, ranging in age from twenty to thirty years, who had never made their First Communion.
On Saturday, after Mass, I went to Chicago, and told a Catholic bookseller that I had come begging for fifty-nine prayer books, beads, scapulars, crosses and medals for little ones in the woods.I got nothing. I went to the Feeley Company, and I think I ought to say here that I got more than I wanted, for nothing. I got back to the church in time to hear the confessions of the children, and to accomplish some other useful work before I retired late that night. On Sunday, the children's mission was to close.
They were to be in the church at 9 o'clock in the morning, just one hour before the Mass. I had arranged to have the parents there together with the children. I told them how I procured the objects of devotion, and, when the fifty-nine children had been placed in files outside the railing, and every pew in the church had been taken by the grown people, including many non-Catholics, I began to explain the use of each object and gave one to each child.By this time the babies had slipped from their mothers' laps and toddled up to the sanctuary. I opened the gate and let them in one by one. Each had to get something, and then went tumbling back to mamma. I doubt if there was a dry eye in the church.
People wondered where the children came from, and said they never knew there was one-third the number in the parish. The sight of so many little ones gathered before the altar that Sunday morning inspired the congregation to ask for a priest.They have one now who says Mass for them on Sundays, and instructs their children. There is a crumb of comfort in all this. Are there not in the East, as well as in the South and West, other places almost at the missionary's door, where the eight or ten children might turn out to be fifty or a hundred, if those who stand looking up to Heaven would go out into the by-ways and highways and call them together?
Link (here) to the essay entitled, We Should Have Missions For Children, by the Jesuit Father Cornelius Shyne. Fr. Shyne was based out of St. Mary's Kansas.
Photo is just an old photo of Catholic children in a procession unrelated to Fr. Shyne's mission.