September 28, 2021
The following is a reflection I shared with the Guerin Catholic parent community in last week’s e-newsletter. In it, I encourage parents to take their role as “primary educators of their children in the faith” seriously:
Looking back on our parenting efforts, Carol and I are pretty happy with the results. Our kids
are grown and out in the real world, living lives of their own. All four of them are married.
We have nine grandchildren and a tenth on the way. We get together often and enjoy one
another’s company. We love each other and express that love in both words and actions.
Each of our children has inherited a few odd quirks from either Carol or me, but for the most
part, they are well-adjusted adults.
As I reflect back, however, I’d like to have one “do-over.” I wish I had done a better job, done
my fair share, of forming our children in the faith. I offer up a couple of disclaimers at this point: First, thanks to Carol and through their own initiative, the kids have found their way when it comes to their faith or are at least in process. Second, as a young dad, I simply didn’t know any better; I was still trying to figure out things for myself. I took my job as a role model seriously. I tried to live a good life and talk to them about how to treat one another. Carol and I took them to Church on Sundays, usually hoping we could get through Mass without one of the four being too disruptive.
I can remember very few times, however, that I talked about faith with the kids. I didn’t share
what the Catholic Church taught, or what I believed and why. I didn’t think to encourage family
prayer, except before meals. I didn’t share, in words, the beauty of the Mass. I didn’t talk about
the Eucharist with awe and wonder. I didn’t talk about turning to God in our time of need.
I credit Carol for any talk of Jesus or the assurance that He loved them unconditionally.
We sent our children to Catholic grade school and high school, and three went on to Catholic
colleges. Maybe I thought school, along with Carol’s efforts, would be enough. Looking back now,
I wish I had done more. I wish I had been intentional in passing on my faith. I wish faith had been
a topic of conversation around the dinner table, or during the one-on-one talks I had with each of
the children. Instead, my time with them was generally spent discussing school or sports.
I wish I had been a better storyteller – I wish I had shared my experience of Christ and the peace
that came from knowing Him, and made sure they knew He was fully present to them at all times.
There are no do-overs in life, so I offer this I-wish-I-had-done-more confession as a piece of advice
to parents of children in their formative years.
Don’t hope your kids will grow in their faith; and don’t rely on Catholic schools to be the sole
source of faith development for them. We do our best to nurture the faith of our students, but the work must begin at home. I encourage parents to be intentional in their efforts to share their own faith journeys, to be storytellers—God needs storytellers.
Parents must build their family’s faith foundation on solid rock. The school works to provide
support and reinforcement of that foundation. Working together, our kids will be able to weather
the storms they will face out in the world.