The following comes from a Southern Cross article by Denis Grasska:
SAN DIEGO — There was something special about the Mass celebrated on March 8 at Our Mother of Confidence Church.
And it wasn’t just the fact that a female puppet co-preached the homily.
The sixth annual Missionary Childhood Association Mass was celebrated in a church filled with Catholic school children and it concluded with a recognition ceremony. The celebration, organized by the diocesan Office for the Missions, provided an opportunity to thank local Catholic schools and religious education programs for their generous support of the missions.
Retired Bishop Robert H. Brom presided over the concelebrated Mass, while Divine Word Father Michael Manning delivered the homily.
Addressing a congregation of about 600 people from 28 Catholic schools and three parishes, Father Manning admitted that he felt “very nervous” standing there under the watchful gaze of the bishop and concelebrating priests. He asked the children’s permission to invite his friend Lupe to assist him with his homily.
Upon receiving their permission to do so, Father Manning walked toward the altar and, reaching into a sack beneath it, pulled out the puppet named Lupe.
It took a few moments for Father Manning’s friend to acclimate herself to her new surroundings. But, in short order, he informed her that she was in San Diego, currently inside a church, and surrounded by children who are actively involved in supporting the Church’s missionary work.
“Who’s the guy in purple over there?” Lupe asked. “Is he ‘big stuff’?”
Father Manning responded that the gentleman in question was the bishop and that, yes, in fact, he was a personage of great import in the diocese.
Father Manning then solicited Lupe’s insights on what it means to be a missionary. To put it simply, she said, it means, “You gotta love people.”
“That’s easy to say,” Father Manning replied. “I can love people that I like, but there are some people that I don’t like, and that’s kind of hard.”
“What kind of Christian are you?” Lupe asked in response, chastising her own puppeteer as the church erupted in laughter.
After thanking Lupe for her assistance with his homily, Father Manning unceremoniously returned her to the place from whence she had come. Her final words — “Not in the sack! Not in the sack! Please, not in the sack!” — were greeted with the laughter of the youth in attendance.
Sister Eva Rodriguez, a member of the Sister Servants of the Blessed Sacrament who serves as associate director of the Missions Office, said Father Manning’s homily added “a beautiful touch” to this year’s celebration, and “Lupe did a great job explaining to the children what is needed to be a missionary.”