28 February 2007


I read about it first on the Catholic World News site, and then had to look for myself. I couldn’t believe that a priest in a clown suit would actually be put forward as an icon to attract normal and healthy young men to the priesthood. I mean, it’s all so passĂ©. It’s so 1970’s. I couldn’t believe that someone working to increase priestly vocations would still be caught up in anything so pathetic.

My disbelief was mistaken. There it is in sickening color, right on the Milwaukee Catholic Herald website. “Pallottine priest earns his 'Stripes' as clown.” “Providing laughs is another facet of Fr. Serwa's ministry,” says the subtitle of the story, regaling us with vignettes of the ministry of Stripes the Clown, a.k.a. Fr. Serwa.

Here’s a sample of the depth the clown's theology: “In his 30 years as a clown and 36 years a priest, Fr. Serwa has found several striking comparisons between the two. One was that of balloon animals. As Fr. Serwa explained, there are lots of little children and only so many balloon animals to go around, much like a priest and his parishioners.”

So that's it? So many children, so few balloons...

No offense intended, but I find this all more than a little creepy. And as a father of five, if this priest in full clown make-up had tried to foist his balloon toys off on my kids he probably would have been picking pieces of latex out of his teeth for days. I know, I know -- it’s all supposed to be in the spirit of St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “We are fools for Christ's sake…” but I have a really strong feeling this isn’t what the apostle had in mind.