Family Ideas

Here are 5 ways to encourage parents to contribute to making their child’s Faith Formation most impactful:

parent working with child







  1. Parents are first – You are the first and primary educators of the faith to your children. How are you helping them, as Pope Francis says, “meet Jesus”?  How are they growing in “grace and wisdom” (Lk. 2:52) during the years you have them under your roof? Do your children see you taking time to pray & grow in your faith? The habits and attitudes you model are the most important ones in your child’s life and make the most impact. Your words & actions speak to what your kids see as most important to you.


  1. Attitude – Your attitude can make a world of difference to your child(ren). Weekly class attendance, family discussions about what was covered in class and general attitudes on going to Mass, praying together and involvement in the parish have an effect on your child.


  1. Faithfulness – God desires to reveal Himself to us because He loves each one of us so very much. Through weekly attendance in our School of Religion Program you are witnessing your faithfulness to the promise you made at your child’s baptism: to raise them in the faith and assist them in their spiritual growth. Your goal is to help your kids get to heaven – this is the most important thing you can do as parents.


  1. Prioritize – When your child sees (even when she/he doesn’t always like it) that you put weekly faith formation as a top priority they become aware by your example how important faith is to you as parents. Your actions and choices speak volumes!


  1. The power of praying parents – Pray daily for holiness in your family and for the spiritual needs of your parish community. Put your trust completely in God, our heavenly Father, who will hear you and do what is best for you.  After praying and seeking God’s intercession for a specific intention which was answered, St. Faustina said: “Now I can see how much power intercessory prayer has before God”(Diary 202).

What tips do you have?  Please share!


Lent is the perfect catechetical season.  A catechist as well as a parent can find a plethora of ideas about how to practice and live out Lent.  I would like to share ideas in 3 categories (be aware that some ideas will overlap): Family Ideas, Classroom Ideas and Personal Ideas.  I hope the following links will help assist you as a parent or a catechist in assisting your students to grow closer to Christ this Lent.

Family Ideas:


~ Pray the Rosary and/or Divine Mercy Chaplet regularly as a family – on the way to/from school, or right after dinner.

~ Read the Bible/pray with your kids before bedtime during Lent.

~ Pray the Station of the Cross at 7pm each Friday at Ascension or at home:


~ Have a day where the TV Stays off (Maybe Fridays during Lent)
~ Fast from Cell phone use, internet, video games from after dinner until bedtime.
~ Fast from going out to eat. Give the extra money to the poor.
~ Fast from gossip or negative thoughts.
~ Fast from eating between meals.
~ Fast from dessert a few times a week.
~ Fast from being lazy (that attitude that says: someone else will do it.
~Listen to Christian Music 97.3 FM or Catholic Radio 1090AM in your car during all of Lent.


~Sign up for Holy Hero’s daily Lenten email:

~ Lenten Calendar:

~ Give money as a family to the poor: Operation Rice Bowl.

~ Spend more time with family.

~ Be positive (maybe charge .25 cents for every negative comment at home and then give the money to a charity).

~ Family Chart: 

~ Lenten Sacrifice Beans:


Classroom Ideas

~ Prayer Service:

~Puppet Show Scripts:

~ Ideas from Our Sunday Visitor:

~ Some Lenten Lesson Plans:

~ Stations of the Cross Bingo:

~ Lent Lapbooks:

~ Printable Lenten Calendar:

~ NOW Cross:

Personal Ideas:

~ 7 Great Book Recommendations:

~ Take time to pray at lunchtime instead of going out with friends or surfing the internet.
~ Read a Psalm each day during Lent.
~ At 3:00pm each day pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet or take a moment to pause in prayer remember the hour that Christ died.
~ Pray the Seven Penitential Psalms – maybe one each day of the week throughout Lent (Psalm 6, 31, 50, 101, 129 and 142).

~ Go out of your way to do one kind deed each day.

~ Do things for people each week without them knowing.

~ Be positive and reflect joy during Lent.







This summer I was preparing for the upcoming year and one thing that I really wanted to do is to provide a series of helpful presentations for parents during this Year of Faith.  I’m providing a series of talks on the second Wednesday of each month during our traditional School of Religion classes as a way to encourage and empower parents in their faith lives as their children attend class.  Last month I provided a presentation on what the Year of Faith is and how families can make it a special year.  This month was on “7 Ways To Help Your Kids Get to Heaven”.  Although I had a low turnout, I felt that those who attended enjoyed the presentation.  Below is a copy of my powerpoint if you want to see the 7 points I came up with.  I want to thank Lisa Mladinich and Marc Cardaronella for giving me some input as I was putting this presentation together.


Let us pray for parents this year that the Holy Spirit will lead, guide and strengthen them to be salt and light to their children and to those around them.


7 Ways to Help Your Kids Get To Heaven

New Program

I’m very excited about a new program our parish began in September called Family Formation.  This program originated at a parish in Ham Lake, Minnesota and is now in over 80 parishes throughout the United States.  The pastor at Church of St. Paul realized about 20 years ago the need to help parents actually be the primary educators of their children’s faith lives.  The pastor spoke of how parents were teaching their kids (by their example) that its ok to just drop their kids off at CCD and let the parish take care of their religious education and then pick them up once they were done for the week.  It was teaching kids that once I become a parent I don’t have to learn about my faith anymore.  Family Formation involves the parents in the faith formation of their children.  It is a very exciting program where kids comes once a month and learn as well as the parents (in a separate learning space) and then parents are given home lessons to complete for the remaining 3 weeks of the month.

Humble Beginnings

When I first thought about bringing Family Formation to my parish I thought I’d have humble beginnings.  I prayed a Novena to St. Joseph and asked that if it was God’s will for us to begin this program then it would happen.  I had an informational meeting where about 30 people showed up and about 20 or so seemed pretty interested in doing it so went forward and prepared to bring Family Formation to my parish.  I hoped to have about 20 kids in the program.  I had no idea that by August I would have 175 kids registered and over 100 families.  I was amazed and I actually had to close registration because my classrooms were full and I could only find so many catechists and only had so much space.

God’s Work

I am very excited and nervous at the same time about this new program.  We still have other programs going on at our parish (a traditional religious education program and an alternative summer program).  I believe that God will do great things in these families lives as they give Him permission and as they seek to actively be engaged in the faith formation of their children on a new level.


To find out more info go to







I came across a great article about celebrating Sunday Mass.  It is called “Putting on Our Sunday Best!” by Anne Koester.  She makes great points about the importance of having a proper attitude and disposition at Mass each Sunday.  Here is the Link below.

Being that it’s Father’s Day weekend I wanted to post this great video called The Dad Life.  I think it is a great video put out by a church to show that to be a Dad has responsibilities…it is a vocation with important implications on society.  Most parents will get a great laugh out of watching this but also it is a great teaching tool.  If you have a few minutes check it out. I couldn’t figure out how to embed it into my post this time so I’ve given the link above.

I also found this great video:

In Familiaris Consortio, the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II, the Holy Father spoke about “Men as husbands and fathers”: 

“Within the conjugal and family communion-community, the man is called upon to live his gift and role as husband and father…In his wife, he sees the fulfillment of God’s intention: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him,’ and he makes his own the cry of Adam, the first husband: ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!’ ”  “Authentic conjugal love presupposes and requires that a man have a profound respect for the equal dignity of his wife: ‘You are not her master,’ writes St. Ambrose, ‘but her husband; she was not given to you to be your slave, but your wife….Reciprocate her attentiveness to you and be grateful to her for her love.’ With his wife, a man should live a ‘very special form of personal friendship.’ As for the Christian, he is called upon to develop a new attitude of love, manifesting towards his wife a charity that is both gentle and strong like that which Christ has for the Church.”

Pius XII addressed a pilgrimage of fathers, entitled Un pelerinage de peres (September 18, 1951), in which he says that

“if the mother is the heart, the father is the head of the family, and consequently its health and efficiency depend on the vigor, the virtues and the activity of the father…It is clear that your first duty in the sanctuary of the family home is to provide–with due respect and the perfection, humanly possible, of its integrity, of its unity, of the natural hierarchy which unites the members among themselves–for the preservation of the physical, intellectual, moral and religious sanctity of the family. Evidently, this obligation includes that of defending and promoting its sacred duties; in the first place that of fulfilling the obligations due to God, to constitute a Christian society in the full sense of the word; secondly to defend the rights of the family against all attacks or external influences which could attack its purity, faith, and holy stability.”

That last sentence is so important for me as a father to remember that it is my responsibility to defend against external influences which could attack the purity, faith and holy stability of my family.  Fathers need to reflect on this more.  I know I will.

Happy Father’s Day!

Most of the schools were out for the summer this past Wednesday my neck of the woods.  I thought it was a good opportunity to send some book recommendations and a few family faith ideas to parents.  Summer is a great time to help kids grow in their faith since most do not have regular school.  Making room for additional reading during the year can be a challenge.  I think summer is the perfect time for parents to encourage their children to read some great faith oriented books.  Here is the list, by grade level, that I sent to parents.  What are you suggestions?  I’d love to read about your recommendations!

Pre-School – 1st grade
The Gospel for Little Children by Maite Roche
Brother Juniper – A great storybook teaches important lessons by Diane Gibfried
The Eight Beatitudes Coloring and Activity Book by Author:Virginia Helen Richards, FSP and D. Thomas Halpin, FSP
Hail Mary by Sabrina Bus
Friday Night with the Pope – One special sabbath is remembered in this storybook
The Bible for Little Children by Maite Roche
Who Built the Ark?
by: Sally Ann Wright

2nd and 3rd Grade
Little Acts of Grace by Rosemarie Gortler and Donna Piscitelli
Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls by Caryll Houslander
The Apostles’ Creed by Vicki Pastore
The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola
Princess & the Kiss: A Story of God’s Gift of Purity by Jennie Bishop (for girls)
The Squire and the Scroll: A Tale of the Rewards of a Pure Heart by Jennie Bishop (for boys)
Saint Therese and the Roses by Helen Walker Homan

4th – 6th Grade
Loyola Kids Book of Saints by Amy Welborn
The Imitation of Christ for Children by Elizabeth Ficocelli
Joseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI as Told by a Cat by Jeanne Perego
Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges
The Life of Saint Brigid: Abbess of Kildare by Jane G. Meyer
My Path to Heaven: A Young Person’s Guide to the Faith by Geoffrey Bliss

7th – 8th Grade
Beorn The Proud by Robert T. Reilly
U Got 2 Believe! by Fr. Stan Fortuna, CFR
Saint Catherine Labouré and the Miraculous Medal by Alma Power-Waters
St. Philip of the Joyous Heart by Francis Connoly
St. John (Don) Bosco and St. Dominic Savio by Catherine Beebe
Vincent De Paul – Saint of Charity by Margaret Ann Hubbard
St. Elizabeth’s Three Crowns by Blanche Thompson
The Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterton by Nancy Carpentier Brown

Ideas for the Whole Family
˜ Play games together and watch a great movie (Letters to God, Ann of Green Gables, The Ultimate Gift, Faith Like Potatoes)
˜ Pray a Rosary while traveling to and from your vacation destination
˜ Read from the Bible as a family weekly
˜ June is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (pray a prayer to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus this month
˜ Reach out as a family to someone in need.
˜ Spend less time watching TV or surfing the internet and more time together as a family…outdoors, around a pool or in your front/backyard.

Do you have any ideas for the whole family to foster faith during the summer?

A couple of weeks ago our second grade parents who’s child is preparing for their First Holy Communion were invited to participate in one of the regular Wednesday night classes with their child.  Here is the outline of the night:

1. Children brought their parents to their regular classroom for an opening prayer service (and usual housekeeping things).

2. All the 2nd grade classes came to a large gathering area where parents interacted with their child doing the following (I was the MC helping facilitate and transition):

a. They looked up First Communion related Scripture verses and then shared with the whole group (I called upon volunteers) what they had discovered.

b. Parents worked with their child on a letter to Jesus expressing their excitement of approaching the day of their First Communion.

c. Everyone participated in a re-enactment of the Last Summer (we had matzah bread and grape juice and a script at each table).

This class allows for parents to be a part of their child’s First Communion preparations.  I hope parents are doing things at home to prepare and assist their child’s faith formation.  This opportunity which I do once during their First Reconciliation preparation and once before First Communion is always a way to give parents the opportunity to come together with other parents to continue their child’s preparations.

If you want any additional information about this class please feel free to email me at

What do you do in your parish to involve parents as their child prepares for First Communion?

This past Sunday we gathered students in our program who do Home Study and those who attended our Summer School of Religion (an intensive religious education program over the summer – I shared a little bit about it a number of months ago Part I and Part II).  We’ve asked those participating in our Home Study or Summer Session to attend 4 enrichment session during the year.  It is a way to keep them plugged-in to the parish throughout the year.  We ask at least one parent attend with their child(ren).  Our team (about 6 adults) wanted to do something that would draw those attending into the the Advent and Christmas Season.

Our play or skit was entitled “An Ascension Christmas Carol…in a neighbor near you.”  It focused on Christmas past (the birth of Jesus), Christmas Present (living for Jesus in our everyday lives) and Christmas Future (The Eucharistic Feast of Heaven).  The skit began with a few grumpy kids beginning to decorate their family Christmas Tree for the holiday season.  The kids were sent to bed and while asleep all had an Angel visit them and take them on a “tour” showing them the true meaning of Christmas – past, present and future.  The skit lasted about a half an hour and it was wonderful!

Following the skit kids and parents went from the church to our parish hall to work on an Advent calendar where we played some music and served cider and cookies while families worked on their Advent Calendar (each day of the calendar had an faith action to perform.

Many parents commented on how their kids liked it as well as themselves.  We also got a lot of positive feedback from the evaluation forms we asked them to fill out.  Praise God!

Has your parish done anything like this? I’d like to hear how your parish is involving families.

This past Sunday our parish had our first of four enrichment sessions.  These sessions are for all the students who attended our Summer School of Religi0n Program and those who are doing home study for the year.  A student and one of their parents is asked to attend.  October, being the Month of the Rosary, was our topic with a present day twist…silly bandz.  After a brief introduction of the Rosary we split half the group and sent them to another room where they heard about the various mysteries of the Rosary and how the 4 sets of Mysteries cover the whole of Christ’s life and is a summary of the Gospel.  The other half of the group listened to a presentation on the blessings and promises of praying the Rosary.  Then the groups switched.  At the end all gathered in the church where they were given silly bandz – 10 of them and we prayed a decade of the Rosary and encouraged kids to allow these religious silly bands to be a reminder that they can pray the mysteries of the Rosary throughout the day.  We also encouraged families to pray the Rosary.

It turned out to be a great way to remind everyone of the value of the Rosary and a practical way for kids to pray the mysteries of the Rosary during the day.

Pope John Paul II said many great things about the Rosary in his 2002 Apostolic Letter.  I’ll leave you with the following thought:

“To pray the Rosary for children, and even more, with children, training them from their earliest years to experience this daily “pause for prayer” with the family, is admittedly not the solution to every problem, but it is a spiritual aid which should not be underestimated. It could be objected that the Rosary seems hardly suited to the taste of children and young people of today. But perhaps the objection is directed to an impoverished method of praying it. Furthermore, without prejudice to the Rosary’s basic structure, there is nothing to stop children and young people from praying it – either within the family or in groups – with appropriate symbolic and practical aids to understanding and appreciation. Why not try it?”

I found a great list of ideas for families to share and live their Catholic Faith.   It is invaluable to equip and help parents foster faith in the home.  The more religious education programs help parents foster faith in the home the more successful our class time with students will be.  ~ William

Feast on feasts – And 36 other ways to make faith a bigger part of your daily life

By Maria Wiering
Do you go to Mass on Sunday, but feel like Monday — and Tuesday, Wednesday and the rest — are detached from what you experience at church? For many Catholics, it’s a challenge to unite faith and the normal tasks of daily life. There’s something about a meeting at the office, or washing dishes, or shopping for groceries that seems very ordinary and outside of God’s interest in our lives.

Yet, St. Ignatius of Loyola preached that it is possible to find God in all things. With this in mind, it doesn’t hurt to add a few things in your day that are specifically about reminding yourself that what you have on Sunday should be part of every day.

Feast on feasts
Celebrate feast days like you would birthdays — good food with your family (and maybe dessert!). Feast days, such as those celebrating the Annunciation (March 25) and St. John the Baptist (June 24), honor special people or events in the life of Christ and the church, and they draw Catholics into its historical and mystical life. They’re also useful tools for teaching your children about the saints. Ask them who their favorite saints are, mark those saints’ feasts on the calendar, and do something special for dinner.  Find a calendar of feast days at

omlette.jpgTalk about the readings at Sunday brunch
You heard the readings at Sunday Mass, but did you really listen to them? After Mass, discuss them with your family or friends — and a leisurely Sunday brunch is the perfect time to do it. Share what stood out to you, and see what others remember. Ask yourself — and aloud — what lessons you can apply to your week, or what the readings told you about God.

Say your bedtime prayers
Your mom likely told you to do this, but if you’ve fallen out of the habit, it’s time to start again. Set aside some time each night to thank God for the day, pray for people you know (or don’t know), and ask for God’s help in matters important to you. Nothing is too big — or too small — for prayer.

saints.jpgLearn about each day’s saint
Did you know that the church specifically remembers a different saint every day? These days are called feast days. Learning whose feast the church is celebrating each day gives you a chance to learn about a heroic Catholic, and it will challenge you to try to live up to their example.

Follow the liturgical seasons
Like spring, summer, fall and winter, the church has liturgical seasons to guide our lives of faith. Just as we point out the first robin or note the falling leaves, look for signs at Mass that you can remember throughout the week — the Easter candle, the Advent wreath, the lack of holy water in fonts during Lent. Ask yourself what they mean — and ask your family members what these signs mean to them.

Greet the day
clock.jpgWhen I was young, my mother would stand with us in the kitchen before we left for school and we would recite Psalm 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” This simple prayer not only offered the beginning of the day to God, it also gave us the right perspective as we headed our different ways.

Pray the rosary
Do you have a 15-minute daily commute? Then you have time to pray the rosary. Starting — or ending — your work day with prayer helps you transition to or from whatever awaits you. The rosary also builds a relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom Jesus gave to his church as a mother. With the rosary, you’re asking Mary to pray for your needs — and who better to pray for you than Jesus’ mother?

crucifix.jpgHang your crucifixes
Did you receive, like, 50 crucifixes as gifts between the time you had your first Communion and the present day? Instead of leaving them in the box, hang them up — even if they’re hand-painted yellow from your kids’ vacation Bible school. A crucifix is a visual reminder of the sacrifice Christ made for you out of love.

Attend a funeral
Of course you attend the funerals of friends and family who’ve died, but what about that neighbor down the street, or your co-worker’s mother? Attending funerals is not only an act of Catholic community, it’s a spiritual work of mercy (burying the dead) that draws graces from God.

Have your home blessed
Invite your priest to your home for a home blessing. He’ll say prayers and sprinkle holy water in each of the rooms. The prayers bless the people who live in the house as much as the house itself, so schedule it for a night when everyone can be home.

shoes.jpgMake a pilgrimage
Whether it’s to Rome or the nearby Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., making the effort to visit a holy site brings with it spiritual as much as physical preparation. If you’ve been putting off such a trip, book tickets or fill the gas tank today.

Recite the Angelus
The Angelus is a prayer that recalls Mary’s “yes” to God and commemorates the Incarnation. It’s typically recited at 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. If you’re in Rome, you’ll see a crowd outside of the pope’s apartment at noon on Sunday, when he opens his window to publically pray the Angelus.

Bless your door
Is that Epiphany chalk your parish handed out in January stuck in a drawer somewhere? Dig it out and use it to bless your door. (The priest already blessed the chalk.)  You’d write the initials of the traditional names for the magi (Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) inside the year, so this year it would look like
20 + C + M + B + 10. CMB could also mean the Latin invocation Christus mansionem benedicat, or “May Christ bless this dwelling.”
Thank your priest
Maybe you made a special effort to pray for your priest or thank him after Mass during the Year for Priests, which ended in June. Continue the practice by sending him a card on his birthday or e-mailing him to tell him what part of the homily stuck with you during the week.

Pray before car rides
car_keys.jpgBefore turning your ignition, stop to ask God for protection while on the road. Families may consider praying the following, which invokes the help of one’s guardian angel: “Angel of God, my guardian dear, To whom God’s love commits me here, Ever this day be at my side, To light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.”

notebook.jpgAttend religious ed.
Many parishes offer weekly or monthly adult religious education courses that provide a way to brush up on the basics or go deeper on a certain topic. Check out this fall’s offerings and sign up with a friend. Consider it continuing education to deepen your faith.

Give something up
When they hear “fasting,” most Catholics think Lent, and rightfully so. However, the church encourages fasting during other times of the year as well. Consider fasting from coffee, or dinner, or eating out, and offer your sacrifice up for a particular prayer intention.

Mail a holy card
Writing a letter to a friend? Add a prayer card of your favorite saint or a saint who shares your friend’s name. The gesture will remind them that you’re praying for them.

Read a book
The Bible isn’t the only reading that can draw you closer to God. Ten minutes spent each day with some sort of spiritual reading builds faith, too. Check out something written by a saint, like St. Augustine’s “Confessions” or St. Therese of Lisieux.

bible.jpgOpen your Bible
Catholics sometimes get a bad rap for not knowing Scripture like their Protestant friends, but you don’t have to contribute to the stereotype. Start with five minutes a day, and see where it leads. Reading Scripture daily could turn into “lexio divina,” which is a meditative reflection on Bible verses and words.

Attend a daily Mass
With busy schedules, sometimes it’s challenging just to get to Sunday Mass on time, much less carve out time for a weekday Mass. Yet, a weekday Mass is a good way to center your day on what is truly important and spend structured time in prayer. If your home parish’s Masses don’t jibe with your schedule, check times at parishes close to your work.

Look at art
Many Catholics have a picture or two of Jesus in their home, and if they don’t, their parish certainly does. However, these images can become so familiar that you stop really seeing them. Take some time to look intently at a religious painting or sculpture, asking yourself why the artist may have depicted Christ or a saint or an event the way he or she did.

Eat together
It’s no coincidence that the Eucharist is in the form of a meal, and that the church gathers weekly to celebrate it together. Strive to unite your family daily to eat and use the time to discuss the day. The meal prayer also offers a time for additional intentions and prayers of thanksgiving. Consider asking each family member to name something they’re grateful for and something they’d like to pray for.

Pray for the pope’s intentions
Did you know that Pope Benedict XVI offers monthly prayer intentions? Visit to see them listed by month, and join him in prayer for the needs of the church and world.

Pray for the pope
And while you’re at it, pray for the pope. He’s praying for you.

Volunteer for a cause
gloves.jpgGive your talents to your church and community through volunteering weekly or monthly for an organization that sparks your passion. And think outside of the box — soup kitchens may be able to use your marketing expertise or your plumbing abilities as much as your help with a ladle. Regularly invite family members or friends to join you.

Talk about God
Mentioning God’s name outside of church or with someone you don’t know really well can be uncomfortable for many people. This may be because faith seems so intimate and you don’t want to offend someone who believes differently.  Pray for courage and wisdom to know when and how someone needs to know you’re praying for them or to see if they’d like to accompany you to church.

Memorize a psalm
It’s not only a good way to exercise your memory, but it can also be great comfort in times of need, like when the phone rings in the middle of the night. The well-known verses of Psalm 23 are a great start: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. . . .”

Visit an empty church
If you find yourself running early for a meeting, check out the neighborhood’s Catholic church. Spending just a few minutes in such a quiet, open space before the Eucharist in the tabernacle could rejuvenate both the mind and soul.

List your prayers
Keep a list of those for whom you should pray, and at the end of the day, actually use the list. A Post-It note stuck inside of your planner works as good as a prayer journal.

plant.jpgPlant a garden
Farmers and gardeners often say their work draws them closer to God because they marvel at the way nature works. If you’ve never grown something before, start small, and make it a family project.

Be grateful
You may ask God for assistance in times of need, but remember to thank him for the good things, too. Take a few minutes of quiet while driving home or going for a walk to reflect on the good parts of the day, and recognize God’s hand in them.

candle.jpgLight a candle
Need a reminder to pray for someone who’s traveling, in surgery, or having a baby? Light a candle and leave it on your kitchen table (or office desk) as you go about your work. When you notice it, say a small prayer.

Try adoration
Many parishes in the archdiocese offer perpetual or scheduled adoration or quiet prayer before the exposed Eucharist. It’s common for Catholics to sign up for an hour-long “holy hour,” where they commit to pray regularly before the Eucharist during a scheduled time. Adoration is often held in a small chapel, and those adoring use that to say the rosary, read Scripture and religious books, journal, and contemplate the Eucharist. If an hour of silence seems like too long, make a habit to stop in for 15 minutes once a week.

baby_jesus.jpgLeave out your Nativity set
You don’t have to pack up your Nativity set a week after Christmas. Leave it out as a reminder that the Incarnation is a gift to be cherished all year — not just in December.

Make a confession
Has it been a while since you’ve made a good confession? Summon up your resolve and swing by your parish when your priest is hearing confessions. If you don’t remember what to do, tell him. And take heart in knowing the priest is there to convey Christ’s mercy and love.

calendar.jpgSchedule that retreat
Have you been intending to get away for a weekend but never can find time to do it? Free time rarely just shows up, so you’ll have to carve it out. Take a look at your calendar and call a local retreat center today. Let your friends and family know you’ll be unavailable that weekend, and then stick to the date. You won’t regret it.

Year of VocationTheresa Johnson from Catholic Heritage Curricula wrote some great points about the impact of parents regarding the spiritual lives of their children and how they can help their children grow in their awareness and understanding of their vocation.  Here thoughts are below:

  • We introduce our children to their Heavenly Father from their earliest years.
  • We train our children to whisper into the very Heart of Jesus, and then to listen for His voice.
  • We surround our children with roadmaps of the Way.  In our Catholic homes, we teach them to take the Blessed Virgin’s hand so that she might lead them to her Son.   As a family, we participate in the life of Christ in His Body, the Church.   The very materials that we use to homeschool are selected because we yearn to have our children immersed and formed in Christ.
  • We desire nothing more than that our children learn to incline their ears to God’s voice, and be obedient to His perfect will.  This is the secret to their eternal happiness!
  • In the depths of our hearts, we pray that our children will respond generously to everything that God asks of them, knowing that He created them for a specific purpose, and that their lives will never be fulfilled unless they respond unreservedly.
  • As parents, we also without reservation give our children back to God, for they will only reach the joy of their fulfillment in His glorious and perfect will.

Childhood is certainly the time to begin forming little souls for eternity.  That formation sets the stage for decisions that our children will make as they reach adulthood.  Is God calling them to the vocation of marriage?  To the single life?  To religious life?

A solid, Catholic education certainly plays a part in shaping hearts and minds so that they might be prepared intellectually and spiritually to discern their vocations.  [Remember that ‘discernment of vocation’ isn’t limited to religious life alone, but any vocation to which God calls.]

When making any choice, it is of course necessary to have a choice!  That is, we have to know the options to weigh the options.  Because we as parents have answered the call to the vocation of married life, that is usually the vocation and choice that we, and our children, are most familiar with.  To examine the alternate call to religious life, we must reach outside our families to expose our children to this vocation, this choice.

An excellent website that features solid, orthodox communities along with a wealth of information on discerning God’s call is:

first_communionOur parish has 200 children receiving their First Communion in the next two weeks.  We will have three Masses for the First Communicants.  Here are a few ways that catechists and parents can help their child prepare for one of the most special days of their life!  

1) Take the opportunity to live in the moment

Yes, there is lots to prepare for…dress clothes, gifts, invites to the party, groceries, a clean house, etc, etc…  But don’t forget that is all secondary to helping your child be prepared and excited about receiving Jesus Christ body, blood, soul and divinity!  As you share how wonderful Jesus is to receive and to always be close to Him the child in turn will be excited and seek to focus on being close to Jesus.  Take many moments during the final days and share with excitement your love for Jesus and how Jesus helps you be holy, to be loving, to be patient.  As they see how important Jesus is to you they will continue to grow as they receive Jesus every Sunday. 

2. Make a Novena or pray a Rosary everyday for the one preparing for First Communion.        

Prayer is powerful and full of God’s abundance.  Take the time to pray and seek the floodgates of God’s life to be poured out to the child(ren) receiving First Communion.  

3) Continue a life of Grace

It’s not about one special day in the 2nd or 3rd Grade.  It’s the beginning of a marvelous friendship and abundant graces in ones life.  It’s sad that so many who receive Jesus in 2nd or 3rd grade don’t go to Mass very often after their First Communion – if they only knew the treasure of graces.  God knows how much we need Him and He wants to give Himself to us.  He wants to form a constant foundation and give us a wellspring of grace and strength to draw from in our daily life.  We need Jesus in the Eucharist so much – it’s our lifeline!  

4. Go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation – i.e., Confession

Go to the font of mercy and have children receive the sacrament.  Go to Confession so they can be cleansed of sins, even if it is just venial sin so they can be open to all the graces Jesus Christ has for them at their First Communion.  Going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation opens one up to a more profound reception of Jesus in the Eucharist.

 Here are some ways I suggested tofamilies in our parish to grow in their faith this Lenten Season. 


Get your Lent off to a great start by making plans for the upcoming 40 days.  These 40 days can be a great way to grow as a family and slow down a little bit in order to take more time to grow in your love for God and neighbor.  The three primary areas of focus during Lent are prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  Lent is often seen only from the fasting lens where adults and kids “give up” something.  This may be the best thing for your child to do but if they do not grow closer to Jesus as a result then it might not be the best idea.  I would like to share with you 5 ways to make this Lent a great opportunity to grow in holiness. 

5 ideas

1.         Family Focus Discuss as a family what you will do this Lent. 

        Take the time to talk about what you will do to grow closer to Christ this Lent.  This year try doing something as a family as well as something that each person in the family does individually. 

2.         Consider doing something different each week. 

        No, it might not be as challenging, but it might help keep the focus on making many  sacrifices in order to grow closer to Jesus constantly during Lent.  Keeping it fresh can be a way to keep your child and family    engaged during the weeks of Lent.

3.         Make Sunday Special

        This Lent go to Mass 15 minutes early so you can really prepare for the Holy Mass.  You might want to stay after Mass and have a time of thanksgiving for receiving Jesus in the Eucharist and for this time of prayer and worship with your family.  Also, consider doing a special devotional (Rosary, Bible reading, Stations of the Cross) at home. 

4.         Attend A Parish Event 

        This Lent Ascension will have many opportunities to grow in your faith.  Consider coming to Stations of the Cross at 7pm (Fish Fry at 5pm) on Fridays or an adult faith enrichment event. Also, the parish has a theme this year called “Lent and beyond”. See the bulletin each week for more details.

5.         Pray, Fast, Give

        Take the opportunity to be prayerful this Lent.  Fast from extras to help remind you of the Sacrifice Christ made for you and me.    Finally, seek to give through the operation rice bowl (given in SOR class), possibly performing some service outreach with your family.  Support a need  in our community (Catholic Charities, homeless shelter, kid organizations). And don’t forget to give your love and help to your family members.

God bless your Lent!!!



Parishes throughout the country are preparing children to receive their First Communion in the next few months. Here are some suggestions on how parents can help connect and prepare their child who will be receiving the greatest of gifts.

1. Go to Mass as a family. Make the next few months special by helping your child see how important Sunday Mass is to your family. Spend time on Sundays talking about the Scripture readings.

2. Have parents go over the lessons they are covering related to the Sacrament of the Eucharist (and the Mass). At my parish parents receive a book (this year we are using Loyola Press’ First Euchairst Book) which consists of 7 chapters and a handout with each chapter. Parents are instructed to sit down with their child and cover the chapters and complete the worksheet. We encourage them to make it a special time for their child and to show enthusiasm as they cover the material.

3. Make visits to the Blessed Sacrament. It is very important to foster your love for the Eucharist by taking the time to visit Jesus who is really present in the tabernacle. If your parish has Eucharistic Adoration, be sure to take your child their for some time of prayer and help him/her come to know Jesus and love being in His presence.

4 . Parents – share how God is working in your life. Show your child that you have a personal relationship/friendship with Jesus that affects your whole life.

5. Pray. Gather as a family to pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. Pray with your child for a open heart as they prepare for their First Communion. Show your child that your prayer life is an important part of following Jesus.