Every Parent Looks for Answers
Connectivity, distraction, social media, and so many other influences challenge the heartened efforts of parents and caregivers of children to ensure daily Catholic living and the message of Jesus Christ being foremost in bringing up children in today’s complex world. Let’s take a look at how two families are managing these challenges and some of the strategies they employ in everyday living in their homes to prompt con-versation and questions and to keep the family united together and the children Christ-minded. The facets of family Catholic life that follow provide a glimpse into ideas, inspiration, and the fair acknowledgment that every parent struggles to raise their children and are doing the very best to keep God in, around, and outside of their homes.
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”
Courtney and David O’Mara were raised in strong Catholic families in Reno and are the parents of five children ranging from ages 1 to 13. David, the fourth of nine children, said, “We never missed Mass. I served as an altar boy, and we all went to Our Lady of the Snows Catholic School.” Courtney, the oldest of four, attended public schools, weekly Mass, and Catholic education classes. Both are alumni of Bishop Manogue Catholic High School. While David graduated from the University of Neva-da, Reno, Courtney graduated from Notre Dame, where she studied both philosophy and theology. Courtney and David both became lawyers, and after leaving Reno for a period, returned to be closer to their families. David claims that it was Courtney’s faith that brought their relationship from a strong friendship to what it is today. With their busy work schedules, it was hard to find time to see each other, however, David knew that the one constant in Courtney’s life was her attendance at weekly Mass. Sometimes it was just an hour together during Mass, and sometimes they were able to include coffee or other outings.Fast forward to today, both parents have vibrant law practices and keep the best balance they can in raising their five children. The family prays together, attends church together, and is involved in the Our Lady of the Snows community. They have instilled a culture in their home to talk about God, the Bible, and what they are learning. Courtney shared, “Kids ask a lot of questions, and that gives us a chance to teach our children what we believe and why our Catholic faith is so important to our lives. Our kids are curious, so we talk about anything they want to talk about. We have a good sense of humor in our home!”
When it comes to attending Mass, Courtney and David believe it is their responsibility and an obligation to their children and the parish to celebrate the Eucharist every week. Families, especially those with young children, need to be supported and embraced for bringing their children to Mass without sitting in the kid’s room. Mass can be hectic at times as undoubtedly one or more children want to go home or play with their siblings or entertain other parishioners from under the pew instead of sitting still. David says, “We are fortunate to raise our kids in our childhood parish, where we receive confirmation and support from other parishioners. There is nothing more confirming to us as parents than to have another parishioner express gratitude that we bring our children to Mass or to tell us a story about how their children acted when they brought their children to Mass.” One of the child’s first engagements with the Catholic faith happens during Mass and other church events. While a parent might feel embarrassed or uncomfortable while their young children are learning how to act in Mass, the more you attend, the better their experience will be as they begin to feel connected to the community around them.
On Programs and Activities
Courtney and David are always on the lookout for spiritual opportunities that will provide their children with both education and fun. Courtney said, “We have a robust schedule of summer activities for our kids that are centered on God. For example, our oldest daughter enjoys going to a religious camp in Ohio with her cousins. When she returns home, our family continues to learn from her experience that she shares with us. All of the kids look forward to the Vacation Bible School Our Lady of the Snows puts on each summer, and our daughter has even volunteered to help.”
The other children witness sibling experiences with the sacraments, and it inspires them to ask questions. Courtney shared, “Our one-year-old was not baptized until he was 11 months old. Our children kept prompting, when is our brother getting baptized? Each sacrament is celebrated as a family together.”
The content provided to a child needs to match their intellectual capabilities and comprehension of the Bible. Courtney said, “We do this by using tools that are at their level in that moment of time
Talking about what we believe is something we can all share in public and not hide. Said Brian, “We guide our children to take up space with their faith. We pray publicly. We put faith artwork on our doors. We have a pro-life license plate. We do not shy away about speaking about our faith and our love and trust in God.” Their older children joined the Apologetics Club through Bishop Manogue Catholic High School. Said Meagan, “We want our children to understand and know how to defend their faith.”
Parents are never alone.
There are resources and people across the diocese that walk with them in love and support as they raise their children as Catholics. Prayer and God can help to center families on how they go through their days. No parent or family is perfect, and all can be relieved to know that we have much room for the grace of God.
Does your family have ideas to share on how you connect with your faith? We’d love to hear them.Send your ideas to email@example.com. We will create a summary on all of the ideas we learn about across the diocese and share!