Press Release: Play + Pray Challenge

Catholic Couple seeks World Domination with Play + Pray Challenge



STEUBENVILLE, OH (May 28, 2020) – “No less than world domination,” says Mike Hernon when speaking of the goal of the ministry that he and his wife Alicia founded. He clarifies, “We want world domination of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Our goal is to see Him enthroned in the homes of families all over the world. That’s why we’re issuing the Play + Pray Challenge this June.”

The Messy Family Project’s mission is to empower parents, strengthen marriages and bring families to Christ. Their latest outreach in partnership with OSV Institute challenges families to show love to each other, to their children, and to their Savior.

“We are challenging parents to do three things during June 12-21 this year,” says Alicia Hernon. “First, take their kids on a family fun day. Secondly, go on a date together. Third, honor an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in their homes on or around June 19th to proclaim him as king of their family.  Families can nominate others to do the challenge with them and spread devotion to Christ’s Sacred Heart.”

Why did they start the challenge with “play” instead of “pray”? “Playing is something kids love to do,” Alicia says. “When parents play with their children, it communicates to the children how loved they are by their parents, and opens them to the love of God. Also, play puts us in the place of a child, and Christ Himself said we needed to become like children to enter the kingdom of God. Playing together can and should lead families to praying together!”

Play + Pray grew out of the Messy Family Project’s quarantine resources, which they began offering to families trying to navigate doing “church at home” when public Mass was suspended and parish facilities curtailed. “Knowing that families have been cut off from their normal support and routines for their kids, we came up with this initiative as a way for families to challenge themselves and other couples to do something fun and upbuilding together,” says Mike.

Given the uncertain future of usual summer activities such as vacations and camps, the Hernons hope this challenge will fill a need in communities. They have found a natural partner in the OSV Institute who is supporting this initiative.  “We hope families won’t just do the Play + Pray challenge themselves, but will challenge their friends, relatives, and even those within their parish to do it with them,” says Jason Shanks, President of OSV Institute. “Parishes really need a positive, hope-filled message like this to give to their people right now.  This is how we strengthen the domestic church. We are proud to support this challenge.”

More details, signups, and a challenge kit for the Play + Pray Challenge are available at

The Messy Family Project continues to serve families through their popular podcasts, blog posts, videos, and free resources such as The Family Rosary App, Sunday Prayer Services for the Home, and the Messy Family Guide to Discipline. This ministry is a Catholic nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization recognized by the IRS and serves over 20,000 families. For more information please visit: