Circus Ministry

Circus Ministry

Feld Visitor Center and Exhibit Hall

On display during the 2024 and 2025 seasons

Home » Explore » Our Treasures » Circus Ministry
Father Jerry Hogan holds mass in the exhibits hall

The Most Unique Congregation on Earth

This exhibit recognizes many of the individuals involved in circus ministry through information and photos documenting their experiences and objects shared with the museum.

Brightly colored circus-themed vestments will be on display alongside traveling mass kits used by members of the clergy to help bring this little-known aspect of the big top to life.

Ministry of Presence

Life on the road can be difficult for anyone, even for adventure seekers who work in the circus. Along with the adrenaline rush of a performance comes the stresses of tackling physically demanding tasks on a daily basis and navigating everyday responsibilities while constantly on the move.

Circus chaplains have helped to ease burdens like these throughout the past 100 years, serving as friends and confidantes for those seeking counsel and offering words of encouragement in times of both sorrow and celebration.

Father Ed Sullivan with the Doll family of performers on Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

Father Jerry Hogan blessing Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephants, wearing white robe and an multiple animal patterned stole.

A Friend to All

Circus ministry has been ecumenical since its earliest days, embracing all faiths and demonstrating equal respect for everyone involved. It is difficult for circus employees to actively participate in local churches due to their nomadic lifestyle, so religious leaders are available to conduct services and administer sacraments such as baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals.

A ministry of presence is also provided on showgrounds lots, with a variety of individuals sharing in the day-to-day lives of circus people and offering support to those in need.

Father Jerry Hogan blessing Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephants, courtesy Circus and Traveling Shows Ministry


From Circus Ministry to Flea Circuses, learn more about the many people and experiences that have made the Circus entertainment for generations.