This extraordinary little boy says his two big dreams are to become a priest and meet Pope Francis.
What does a 4-year-old boy like to play with? Action figures of superheroes? Toy dinosaurs and cars? Maybe … But Francisco Almeida Gama’s favorite game is something else: He really likes to play at celebrating Mass.
Francisco spends his days with the “Mass kit” that his parents bought him at a Catholic store. The box contains all the liturgical objects necessary for the liturgical celebration, such as the chalice, the crucifix, the altar cloths, the paten, and the host. They’re all colorful and in miniature. Oh, and don’t forget the priestly stole, which was custom made for the little “priest” to celebrate his Masses.
Do you know what else? Francisco knows the name of each of these objects and what they’re for! “He has to have two Mass kits, because one isn’t enough,” explains Ana Cristina Gama, Francisco’s mother.
When they least expect it, there the boy is in his “domestic church,” reproducing the gestures, prayers and words of the priest during the Mass. The part of the Eucharist that he likes the most is the consecration. And he repeats—with due solemnity—the words that Jesus pronounced at the Last Supper: “Take this, all of you, and eat it … Take this, all of you, and drink from it …”
“He has no lack of toys. He has a little car, and he has Play Doh. He does play with them a little bit, but then he goes back to Mass,” explains Francisco’s mother. The boy’s father, Alexandre Silva Gama, adds that the family, which is very religious and practicing the Catholic faith, has never forced the boy to do any of this:
It is not something we’re forcing on him: do this, do that. This comes from him! There are things about him that we pick up on a daily basis that surprise even us.
Love for the Mass
Francisco doesn’t just like to play at celebrating Mass. He also makes a point of attending Holy Mass for real every week at the Bom Jesus da Lapa parish, in Araçatuba, São Paulo (southern Brazil). He’s been going weekly since he was in his mother’s womb.
Unlike other children of the same age, Francisco isn’t distracted during the celebration. “On the contrary: he doesn’t even blink during the Mass,” says his mother.
In fact, the pandemic was an especially difficult time for Francisco, because he wanted to go to Mass in person, not just by TV and the internet. “When there was a certain easing of restrictions on public attendance at churches, we had to ask our parish priest to let us participate in the Mass inside the church, because Francisco was asking for this a lot,” remembers the boy’s father. “For him, going to Mass is like being at an amusement park. It’s the best time of the day,” Alexandre adds.
Interest in everything to do with God
Besides the Mass, Francisco is interested in everything related to the practice of the Catholic faith. He knows about several saints and knows how to pray many prayers, such as the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Creed, the Prayer to your Guardian Angel, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and the St. Benedict Prayer, which he even recited in church next to the priest.
The parents explain that Francisco is a “miracle” for them. The boy is the couple’s second child. Their first, Lucas, was born at six months of gestation and, after one day, left for the House of the Father.
Yes, his parents are examples of faith. But they believe that they wouldn’t have been able to teach Francisco all that he knows about spiritual life.
So when asked where so much interest in the sacred comes from and “where does Francisco get so much unusual knowledge for a child about to turn four?”, the boy had the answer on the tip of his tongue: “It’s the grace of God.”
Gifts and dreams
In 2020, Francisco asked his parents for a special Christmas present: a kneeler for praying the Rosary, just like the one the priest has in church. Of course, the parents complied with this special request.
Now, about to turn 4 years old, he wants his parents to throw him a party with a “Jesus” theme. He also asked for a big present: an image of St. Michael the Archangel. In addition, on his birthday, Francisco wants to have a caravan, to avoid having a large gathering. He also wants all guests to donate food to families in need.
On his fourth birthday, Francisco has two big and important dreams: he wants to become a priest and meet his namesake, Pope Francis.
In fact, he’s already “training” for when he becomes a priest. And he’s also preparing to visit the pope at the Vatican, saving coins in his piggy bank to pay for the trip.
May the grace of God make your dreams come true, Francisco!