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Parent Tips Jan.

Parent Tips: Help Your Children Get to Know These 5 Saints! (Grandparents – you can help, too!)

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No doubt many of us have heard the term ‘Culture of Life’ over the past 20 plus years, but what does it mean? And how can we introduce this topic to children and teens in a way that is meaningful to them?

One way to do this is to learn about saints who encountered and overcame real challenges to human dignity. This can perhaps spark the imagination of students and help them realize the unique ways God is calling them. Here are five saints to help get your conversations started:

  1. Saint John Paul II

In Evangelium Vitae, Saint John Paul II encourages us to work tirelessly to bring about a Culture of Life.  He explains, “The first and fundamental step towards this cultural transformation consists in forming consciences with regard to the incomparable and inviolable worth of every human life.”

When it comes to helping children truly understand what we mean when we talk about a “Culture of Life”, education in fetal development and fertility appreciation is an important first step.  

If there is a Family Honor program near you, consider registering for it:  https://familyhonor.org/programs/find-a-family-honor-program-near-you/

If there is no Family Honor program close by, contact the Family Honor office (803.929.0858) to see if a team is available to travel to your parish.

Or, you may want to order one or more of Family Honor’s resources: https://familyhonor.org/store/

For a good book for teens and young adults about Pope John Paul II, consider ordering We’re On a Mission From God: The Generation X Guide to John Paul II and the Real Meaning of Life by popular Catholic speaker Mary Beth Bonacci:  http://www.ignatius.com/Products/WMG-P/were-on-a-mission-from-god.aspx 

  1. Saint Teresa of Calcutta

As a sister who answered a call to care for the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India, most of us are familiar with the love with which Mother Teresa treated everyone she encountered.  However, we may have forgotten (or aren’t old enough to remember) that at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994, she stood before Bill and Hillary Clinton and bravely announced that “the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion because Jesus said if you receive a little child you receive me…”  This was met with thunderous applause from everyone in the room, except the Clintons and Gores who remained noticeably still.

Mother Teresa’s example encourages us to proclaim the truth courageously, no matter how powerful our audience might be.  A suggested book about Saint Teresa of Calcutta for young children is:

http://www.catholiccompany.com/mother-teresa-of-calcutta-i122165/?sli=1002848

  1. St. Damien

In the 19th Century little was understood about Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) and fear of the disease spreading led the Hawaiian government to quarantine anyone discovered with the disease on the island of Molokai.  Those exiled to Molokai were separated from their families and received little support or care from the outside world.  Knowing that he was placing himself at risk to contract leprosy- and that he would not be able to leave the island- St. Damien willingly went to Molokai and labored tirelessly to care for the physical and spiritual needs of its inhabitants for 16 years, until he died of leprosy at the age of 49.

  1. St. Marianne Cope

St. Marianne had already helped open the first two Catholic Hospitals in New York and was the superior general of the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis when the King of Hawaii implored her to come and care for those suffering from leprosy.  She and six sisters traveled from New York to Hawaii where she managed a hospital in Oahu, opened a hospital and home for girls in Maui and eventually moved to Molokai to care for St. Damien and the many others suffering from leprosy there.

St. Damien and St. Marianne’s love for the sick inspire us to care for those who suffer- no matter how hopeless or discouraging their situation may seem.  You may want to consider ordering Saint Damien of Molokai — Hero of Hawaii, available via:  http://store.pauline.org/english/kids/saint-damien-of-molokai-hero-of-hawaii#gsc.tab=0

  1. St. Peter Claver

In 1610, the Spanish Jesuit St. Peter Claver arrived in Colombia, South America, where he worked among the slaves arriving from Africa to be sold in the New World.  He would actually board the ships as they arrived to distribute supplies and pray with and care for those on board.  For 33 years he served the African slaves – catechizing, baptizing and advocating for an end to the practice of slavery altogether.  He is believed to have brought three hundred thousand souls into the Church.

St. Peter Claver models a care for all – especially those marginalized by society.

These are just five examples of saints who responded to the needs of their time with heroic virtue.  As a family, talk about those you see in your community who are in need.  How might God be calling you to care for them?

Another book about saints to consider is: Loyola Kids Book of Saints by Amy Welborn: http://www.loyolapress.com/products/books/saints/loyola-kids-book-of-saints  “The more than 60 stories of saints for children in this book are divided thematically and cover saints throughout history from all over the world.”

– by Alison Blanchet, Family Honor Presenter

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