Issue Date: November 19, 2004
Living the faith by doing -- together
At the age of 2, my nephew Tyler was already volunteering: joining his grandma, mom and aunts the weekend after Thanksgiving to decorate the church for Advent. He helped hang ornaments on the Christmas tree -- the ornaments being cards with the names of the needy for whom parishioners could buy gifts. Tyler made sure the trees lower branches were well covered.
He was carrying on a long tradition in his family. Growing up, our family life was often centered around volunteering at that same parish. The habit stuck: Following our parents example, my sisters and I continue our involvement in both church and community service, and Tyler is learning early, too. Hes now 3, and joined in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF this year -- while dressed as a bat, of course.
Our family is not alone. A 2001 report by Independent Sector says that volunteering as a family is on the upswing, and that children who have such experiences with their families are more likely to continue to volunteer as adults. In the cover story for this special section on Family Life, Kris Berggren talked to families who have found the benefits and joys of serving together. As Deb Cilk of California says, What we are trying to instill in our children is to live the faith not by preaching but by doing” ( see story).
Also in this section, Gill Donovan reports on a program that helps couples struggling to keep their marriages together, with the help of others who have been through the process and made it work ( see story). In an essay, Paige Byrne Shortal takes a look at when it hasnt worked, and you try again -- and discover the complications of being a stepparent ( see story). And Mary Ann Cejka tells the tale of another kind of family: a motley group that gathers round the table at a shelter for women on parole to create a real Thanksgiving” ( see story).
Finally, spirituality is the focus of : Frequent contributor Rich Heffern proposes ways to feed the spiritual hunger of youth ( see story), and Mary Silwance reviews three books that connect the experience of parenting to the divine ( see story).
-- Teresa Malcolm
National Catholic Reporter, November 19, 2004
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