By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
IOWA CITY — A plastic Ziggy doll, from the 1970s-90s cartoon strip, has been helping to educate youths at St. Patrick Parish.
Pastor Father Joseph Sia said Ziggy was popular when he was a kid growing up in the Philippines. The priest still has a molded plastic character. “He used to wear an orange shirt, so I painted it black and put a white tab on it to make him look like a priest.”
Father Sia came up with the idea because he wanted to share Ziggy with others. “I re-discovered him when I went home (to the Philippines) last January. I found him in one of my closets in my bedroom at home, so I decided to bring him here to Iowa. I didn’t want him to just sit on my shelf, where no one would see him, so I thought of taking pictures of him and posting them for others to see — especially since Ziggy is not as popular now. I also thought of doing this to give kids something fun to do while they take online classes.”
He created a virtual challenge for students in second grade through confirmation class. Each week he posted on the parish website, Facebook page and parish bulletin a picture of Ziggy somewhere in the church or with an item found in a church. Religious education teachers also sent the Ziggy posts in emails to their students.
Students guessed Ziggy’s location or the item with him. Those who submitted a correct answer to Cheryl Schropp, director of religious education, were entered in a drawing each week. Prizes included holy cards or prayer books.
Father Sia revealed the answer without an explanation. “I leave it up to the parents/catechists to discuss it, if they want. This is really just an extra thing and I don’t want to take too much of their time,” he said.
Ziggy has been at the baptismal font, the ambo, on top of the holy water bucket, underneath the bell tower and beside a chalice.
Father Sia has been pleased with the response and has received positive feedback. Although only 10 answers are generally submitted a week, he said some students have done research on the item or site Ziggy has visited. One student’s research included the Latin name of the holy water bucket, which is aspersorium.
As the virtual tour concludes this month, Father Sia said he has other ideas for a new series in a few months. He wants to come up with a different idea so that “Father Ziggy” does not get old. He and the catechists need to keep thinking of creative ways to “make our kids learn about the church and their faith.”