A tradition took place on Christmas Eve at St. Patrick Church in Kankakee that seems
to personify the motto of the Viatorians, embossed on their community seal: “Let the little children come unto me.”
Ever since Fr. John Peeters, CSV, took over as pastor 10 years ago, he began calling up children at the end of the Christmas Eve liturgy to bless the parish crèche. In addition, he asked each child to present their own infant Jesus, from their family’s nativity set at home, to be blessed.
Lord Jesus, who came to us as a tiny child,
We thank you for your love for us.
May these children and the figures they hold
Remind us that you are with us always.
May their parents share with them the deep and pure love
That Mary and Joseph felt for their child.
May our children know the joy of the shepherds
And the song of the angels today and every day!
“More young families are following the tradition of having a manger scene in their home as it helps tell the Christmas story,” Mulcahy says. “It helps them keep Christ in Christmas for their little ones.”
The special blessing came just three months after a similar ritual, when Fr. Peeters called up children to the altar to bless their backpacks before the start of school.
His pastoral blessing also extends to his parishioners, and first responders in the Kankakee Valley, whom Fr. Peeters blessed during the 10th annual Blue Mass in September.