The latest from our parish-playground drama

So I have written here before about the difficulty of parenting in Mass and also the lack of fellowship at our church, well those two issues are coming to a head. There is a school associated with our parish and, for whatever reason, the gates surrounding the playground are always locked(they opened it once just before RE started in late summer in a deceitful way to trick parents and children alike(hyperbole there, but it still happened.))

So Sunday, fed up with lack of fellowship and after discussing with my wife for several weeks why on earth there is a playground that no one is allowed to use on Sunday, I asked the RE teacher if the students could use it. She said something about recent construction on the fence and curiously ended with “it’s just an hour”. “ok” and I walked away. I always assumed it was something from the school and liability or whatever, so her answer seemed weird.

Anyways she emailed Tuesday and asked why I was interested in taking students to the playground. I explained that kids like playgrounds and parents are able to talk and fellowship during that time, etc. She is a grandma, ie. not childless, so this is perplexing why I should have to explain this; just trying not to assume anything on my part. It did occur to me that she could have thought I meant my class during RE, which would be odd.

Honestly, the liability issue cannot be it as I am sure some type of wavier would take care of that. I would guess it is just some grumpy teachers who don’t want others using the playground. Maybe someone who donates to the school doesn’t want to ‘pay for the whole parish’ to use it. The parish raises a good deal of money for the school by the way; though we use their classrooms for RE.

To close, I haven’t heard back but I am guessing this could get confrontational at some point so just posting for advice on how to proceed as it happens.

I know you already wrote that you don’t think it’s a liability issue, but I think that’s the heart of it. They probably only want it open when their staff is available to supervise and in a controlled fashion. Perhaps there is also a concern with property damage, but I’m leaning towards the former.


If the school is responsible for the playground I might try and reach out to the school’s office directly for an explanation or accommodation. The parish secretary (rather than the RE director) may know, too.

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It is small operation, I imagine they are meeting now, she will get back to me or have the principle respond. But if that is the answer, my response is “we need to build a parish playground”, yes one playground separate and unused while the other one is used…it is ridiculous but so is a playground that kids can’t use on a sunday.

I am a little worried I came off negative or condescending, but I simply answered the question.

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I’d cut the RE teacher/coordinator out of the conversation and have a conversation with the pastor and school principal.

This doesn’t have anything to do with RE, and that may be clouding the issue.

Just talk to the pastor and principal as a parent interested in having the playground available after mass.


Agree, this is a pastor question.

My spidey senses say it is that the playground was used in the past, and that it was not cleaned up after use or there was damage done. There could be liability that gives an adults - kids ratio on the playground for safety reasons. Lastly, it is not impossible that in the past RE teachers DID use the playground during class time.

Before your meeting (and for the sake of peace, do invite the DRE to the meeting with Pastor/principal) think of the logical objections and have answers in place for them.

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Perhaps there was an issue with dirty needles and condoms in the playground the next morning.

It could be that no one is willing to be the responsible party to supervise children, too, or responsible to open and close the playground. The Church has rules intended to protect children not just from predators but from bullying and so on. It can’t be presumed that parents will supervise their children, because many are still back in the days of free-range children. Well, that is fine, it is a legitimate parenting decision, but the parish is responsible for what goes on at their facility.

I think the OP is doing the right thing by just asking, since he can’t know the reasons without asking.

I agree with @1ke that the person to go to is the pastor. I wouldn’t expect the DRE to go to bat for me, at least. If this was something I felt strongly about, I’d spearhead the effort personally.

Our parish playground is always “open”, in the sense that the community is allowed to use it when it’s not being used by the school or the parish for an event. The PSR students typically play on the playground prior to PSR (630PM on Monday night) and after, when its still daylight. In the past, our PSR class HAS had difficulty with the volunteer teachers ending their classes earlier and earlier to go outside to play and the director had to put the kabosh on that.


Sadly, no. If that doesn’t happen where you are, be happy.
Some neighborhoods are in the toilet.

No reply so far. I know she is part time but thought it was T-Th, but she didnt’ respond yesterday.

I don’t want to come across as erratic; should I just go ahead and email the priest?

In business, stepping over someone in the chain of command is the “nuclear option”. Parish staffers are stretched thin, I would give the DRE some time to respond. She may have not been able to schedule time with the Pastor yet (I am parish staff, my office is the next one up from Pastor, sometimes I can’t get a meeting with him for a couple of days).

Where I grew up, I’ve found needles in the yard.

We had a 7ft tall fence, I was just thinking that a fence around the playground wouldn’t keep them out. But, to behonest…I was envisioning a little chain link fence.

agreed about the chain of command; it was you and others that suggested it was a pastor question.

I suggested a meeting with both of them, that would be if the DRE does not get back to you in a reasonable amount of time. In “Parish time”, I’d give her 2 weeks.

Our parish playground has no fence but even if it did it wouldn’t keep the neighborhood kids from climbing over it to play. Our church is in a high crime area and our groundskeeper makes a daily sweep of the grounds to pick up discarded needles, prophylactics, beer bottles, etc.

She responded. Said she would need to speak to the priest, but had the normal concerns; insurance, liability, and adult supervision.

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I contacted another church up the road which also has a playground associated with the adjacent school. They said they don’t let kids from the parish play on it either :disappointed_relieved: :cry:
I contacted the diocese for advice/help. I guess we will see.

All the baptist churches have playgrounds, why cant we?


Seems a bit of overstepping when

Give the woman the respect of allowing her to ask up the chain of command.

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