By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Most 3-year-olds turn to their teddy bears and stuffed animals for comfort, but not Scarlett McIntyre of Bussey.
“She absolutely adores Pope Francis,” said her mother, Alina. “She has a prayer card with his picture on it that she keeps near her seat in the car. ‘My Pope! My Pope!’ she says.”
Alina said it all started when their parish, St. Peter in Lovilia, handed out the prayer cards after the pope’s installation last year. Scarlett took one and has treasured it ever since. She also prays for Pope Francis every night. “He’s great!” the preschooler said enthusiastically.
Scarlett can’t put into words what she finds great about the pope, and Alina isn’t sure either. She wonders if her daughter has a deeper understanding of the Holy Father than can be expressed in the words of a preschooler. “We watched his inauguration on television, and you never know what a kid is picking up. Sometimes when they’re just sitting on the floor playing when the television is running, you don’t know how much they are absorbing.”
Whatever the reason, Alina said “it makes me happy to see her embracing her faith at a young age.”
Recently, Scarlett and her sisters, Bridget and Maeve, “met” Pope Francis at Mystical Rose Catholic Book Store in Pella. It was only a cardboard likeness of the pope, but Scarlett said she hopes to meet the “real” pope someday. It is something her mother hopes for, too. “It’d be cool if he’d come visit us like John Paul II did. If he were anywhere in America, I think we’d try to make the effort.”
Alina said she and husband Chad are committed to raising their daughters in a Catholic household, and they have daily catechism lessons. Alina said she tries to familiarize the girls with the saints and religious leaders, and like Scarlett, each girl seems to have a favorite. Maeve sleeps with a small statue of St. Padre Pio under her pillow, and Bridget likes the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“We try really hard to live our faith,” Alina said. “It’s hard when the kids are so small, as there are limited things we can do with them, but we plan to expand on that as they get older and have more abilities.
“It makes me happy they’re off to a pretty good start becoming good little Catholics.”