hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


April 12, 2012

Poor Tom's Almanac: Blessed are the church babies


The priest wouldn't have it any other way, being the dutiful patriarch that he is. Seeing his daughter before him is stimulating, he says. Even the sermons tend to be more spirited, knowing she's there taking in the monologue.

A baby in church is a breath of fresh air. It denotes a healthy presence, a vitality that promotes new life. Often, it becomes an infusion. Out of it comes a potential activist, maybe a deacon, trustee member, or your next priest. It all starts from a genesis.

I recall a former pastor of my church who had the patience of Job with boisterous children in his flock. An infant seemed to be overly vocal on this particular day, causing the mother to scramble from her seat and hightail it out the door.

"Madam," he said. "Please don't be so hasty in leaving the church with your daughter. She has every right to cry. I'm enamored by such sounds in God's house. It's music to my ears. Let her cry. Some day they will be tears of happiness."

This priest had a standing rule in his church: Bring on the babies and let them develop accordingly. Removing them is not an option.

The Armenian Church in Haverhill also has a relatively new pastor with a daughter whose eyes are as big as plums. I learned from others that she's a show-stealer when she makes her grand entrance in church every Sunday.

No doubt the new pastor is also mesmerized by his daughter's presence in the front pew as she takes her baby steps in the Armenian Church.

In Chelmsford, the priest has served as pastor for four years. A 5-year-old daughter was literally raised inside the church. I got to talk to him about the experience.

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