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 | By Joey Reistroffer

Teaching the Holy Mass and Catechism in LEGO

Kevin and Mary O’Neill created a mind-blowing book with their children to build up the faith — one LEGO at a time.

Their book, “The Holy Mass: On Earth as It Is in Heaven” calls believers to join Jesus at the supper of the lamb. It is illustrated with scenes from the Bible created with LEGO and was published in 2022. Some say it’s the perfect textbook for children grappling to understand Mass.

“Just because something is pro-found doesn’t mean that [has to be] complicated,” Kevin said.

And this book is proof. The O’Neills use LEGO to draw in youngsters. They show how the Old Testament parallels the New Testament, starting with sin coming into the world through Adam and Eve, and being redeemed through Jesus, and Mary’s “yes.”

Profound? Yes. Simple? Well, the O’Neills retell this parallel of sin in two pages, and most of that is filled with LEGO scenes of Adam and Eve on one page, and Jesus and Mother Mary on the next. Brilliant; children can understand this.

For parents who want to delve deeper, the O’Neills place footnotes at the bottom of each page, highlighting where they can find Scripture messages in the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

“The Holy Mass” documents its sources well and gives credit to the au-thors, the early Church Fathers. That is why it is such an awesome read for parents and children.

“Children love imagery,” Kevin said. “The words stick with the imagery. It really is a powerful message,” plus many people never outgrow LEGO.

Kevin said he did not grow up with the iconic bricks, but now those itty-bitty pieces of plastic are all over his house.

“Two things I never thought I would do: write a book and play with LEGO,” he said.

Let's Make Our Own

This whole adventure started when Kevin found his son reading “The Brick Bible.” It was written by a transgender artist who is also an atheist; and while Bible passages are referenced on each page of that book, the artist used his “own unique wording,” per his website.

Kevin said his son was drawn to it by the LEGO illustrations.

“I said, ‘Throw that thing away.’ He wanted to keep it. I said, ‘Let’s make one of our own,’” Kevin remembers. So they did.

“The whole family is involved in it as much as they would like,” he said. He and Mary have nine children; some are good at Photoshop and others are good at building the scenes, and those “close to the floor are good at picking up.”

“Everything we do as a family is always focused on faith. The book is just a facet of that.”

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Way Down South

Kevin was a landscaper from northern Illinois who needed faith to get him through a devastating head-on collision in January 2008.

“We had just bought our house. I lost my job. I couldn’t walk for three or four months. I have a third of a kneecap left,” he said. “We relied on God to get us through that. The good Lord kept providing jobs.”

Kevin said he knew very little about the faith and began to study it during that ordeal.

He began reading the early Church Fathers, while also listening to and memorizing CDs from Lighthouse Catholic Media. “I learned the Scriptures,” he said.

One book, “Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic” by David Currie, had a profound impact on him.

“It really teaches the depths of the faith in a very concise way, a very charitable way. It was incredibly persuasive to me,” he stated. “It really launched my faith journey.”

That journey brought the O’Neills to Simpsonville, South Carolina. Kevin gave a speech on the sacraments in Harvard, Illinois, and was invited to give that same talk at a retreat in the Carolinas. While in the Palmetto State, he was taken by its beauty and the flourishing Catholic community and knew he wanted to relocate. Those who heard him in Illinois were eager to pitch in and help him move here.

“He demonstrated deep knowledge of the sacraments and was able to efficiently explain them, their origin, what they mean and how they connect to the Old Testament,” said Jody Armstrong, who lives in Spartanburg and was at the retreat in Illinois. “Children are not going to be able to understand complex issues. Kevin takes those complexities, identifies them and speaks to them in a way that makes it easy to understand. And I think that is why his books are so successful.”

Birthright of the Faith

Kevin is a bit humbler. He gives credit to his wife, Mary.

“I’ve written the longest run-on sentence ever, and my wife turned it into a book,” he said. “It’s incredible how God has used every part of our family.”

Kevin, Mary and their family made it to Simpsonville this past October. It has been quite a journey for them.

“We’re not spraying the leaves,” the landscaper explained. “We are watering the roots.”

The O’Neills are doing their best to keep the faith fertile in young hearts so it will grow, and plans are afoot to write another LEGO book, this one about the New Testament. But first, he is going to spend quality time with one of his children.

“I’m going to a Monster Truck show with my 4-year-old tomorrow,” Kevin said during this interview. The LEGO would have to wait a bit.

“Your children have the birthright to know the faith,” he explained. “You have the duty to teach them,” brick by brick.

And hopefully, when these children are called to the supper of the lamb, they will understand the building block of our faith, the Eucharist.

Joseph Reistroffer is a long-time writer who teaches religious education classes at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg. Email him at