Catholic families say, ‘Happy Birthday, Jesus!’

Youths work on crafts during a birthday celebration for Jesus earlier this month at St. James the Less Parish in St. Paul.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

ST. PAUL — When 2-year-old Brooklynn Dop learned Christmas was approaching, she imagined eating cake and joyfully singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. “She got excited and expected a birthday party,” her mom, Erin, a lay director for St. James the Less Parish in St. Paul, recalled of that Christmas in 2022. Brooklynn’s Christmas wish was too sweet to resist.

Erin shared photos of her family’s birthday celebration on Facebook. “Other parishioners with younger kids expressed that it was a great idea,” she said. Erin and her husband, Kyle, decided to expand on their daughter’s idea this past Christmas season by hosting a multi-parish party in the St. James parish center. They thought it would be a good opportunity for families to connect and foster a sense of welcoming and belonging.

The Catholic community joined Brooklynn, now 3 years old, in celebrating Jesus’ birthday. Families from the parishes of St. John the Baptist-Houghton, St. Boniface-Farmington and St. Mary of the Assumption-West Point participated, too, enjoying cake, games and more. Guests brought gifts of food for the Fort Madison Food Pantry.


Families played Bingo, created Nativity scenes with stickers and worked on coloring pages. Student volunteers from Holy Trinity Junior/Senior High School in Fort Madison led younger kids in games of tag and duck-duck-goose. Families took home party favors that focused on Jesus, including a Nativity-shaped cookie cutter. “It was a really good time,” Erin said.

Although the weather was cold and snowy for the party, about 25 people participated. “The games were really fun and the cake was great,” said fourth-grader Addison Menke of the St. Paul parish. Fellow parishioner Emma Menke, an eighth-grader, said the party was “a fun way of celebrating Our Savior’s birth.”

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