One of the most astonishing things about Christmas is that the mystery of the incarnation, when God became one of us, happens in a family. The family is God’s creation and gift. The family has been subject to a lot of challenges and attacks lately; society and governments who try to redefine the family or force their agenda on it. As a result, the family, and society suffers and many families are broken. Only God holds the plan that will make the family thrive, flourish and find peace.
I’m grateful that as a parish we are learning to be more and more a family of God. This is not easy. We use this term “family” frequently when we speak of the parish or the church, but sometimes we’re not so good at it. We need to learn from the Lord how to become the family He has chosen us to be.
This Sunday, the Feast of the Holy Family, which falls within the Octave of Christmas, focuses our attention on the mystery of God with us, through the lens of the family. I’ve asked a few families to share their struggles, journey, joys and blessings with us. I pray that every family in this parish can experience grace and healing.
God bless, Fr. Dennis
When Father Dennis asked us to share our story, we were happy to do so. My husband and I have experienced struggles with infertility. We know personally that infertility can feel very lonely. Although so many couples experience it, most don’t talk about it. We want people to know that there is hope and there are resources that can help which align with our Catholic faith.
After experiencing a few years of unexplained infertility, we made an appointment to talk with Father Dennis and it was the best thing we could have done. At that point we had hit a dead end because all the doctors we had been seeing said there was nothing more they could do and the only thing left was to stop trying or to begin treatments which we knew were against our faith and its teachings. These were treatments we already knew we weren’t comfortable with.
Fortunately, there was more we could do. Father Dennis put us in touch with a Creighton Model Fertility Care Practitioner in the area. She helped us learn this simple and easy way of charting and then identified some red flags. She provided us with a list of NaProTechnology (Natural Procreative Technology) doctors. There are only a handful in the state. Our very first visit with our NaProTechnology doctor was unlike any other experience because his approach respected the Catholic faith. With the charting we had done, and his checklist of possible issues known to cause infertility, he was able to diagnose our problem and provide treatment. Without his diagnosis, any other treatment we could have tried would have failed.
We are now blessed with a beautiful baby boy! Although our infertility journey was a difficult one, it strengthened our relationship with God and with each other. We are happy to talk with anyone who would like more information about our infertility journey and the resources that are available.
- Katie & Ryan Pung
I am blessed to have been born and raised in a good strong Catholic family whose parents believed in the power of prayer. There was a sign placed prominently on our living room wall which read: “the family that prays together, stays together”. My mother and dad would make sure that every night of the week, except Sunday, we would sit down as a family and pray the rosary, which truthfully at that time seemed so redundant. Praying together certainly did not solve all of our family’s problems, because the Lord knows we still have many. It certainly taught me discipline and patience (because 15 minutes seemed like forever to a kid). It taught me obedience (very necessary as the child Jesus demonstrated), it taught me persistence (because some things like “dying for our sins” is so important it needs to be repeated over and over). It taught me about God’s Time (because my praying isn’t so much about changing everyone else, as it is about changing me), and it taught me about a Father’s Love. (I thought my dad displayed tough love, but how about watching your Son get mocked, whipped to shreds, thorns pushed into His head, nailed to a cross hanging for hours and then finally dying on that cross). Praying the rosary with my family has helped me understand more clearly Our Father’s sacrificial love for me and for Jesus His son and loving Him in return.
- Jerome Pohl
Being third oldest of ten siblings, I remember our family didn’t go to church together very often for various reasons. To provide food for our large family, my dad would take the boys fishing or hunting after 6:30 am mass and mom took whomever wanted to go to 8:30 mass and be up in the choir loft as she sang in the adult choir. From my view from the choir loft, I remember watching other families walking into our beautiful church and sitting together as a family. I made a promise to God my Father, that when I got married and had children, that we would go to mass together and sit as a family unit, like Jesus, Mary and Joseph were. As a young mom of 5 children, I found out really quick how hard it was to get the kids ready for mass at the same time. There were many Sundays and Holy Days that I thought how easy it would be to just let them stay home and not listen to the complaining about having to go to mass “again”. Over the years, the kids learned to enjoy mass and all of them joined choir when they attended Most Holy Trinity School. Now when I am at Mass, and hear the babies fussing or youngsters trying to behave, I think back how I felt bringing my family to mass and smile. I know what these young couples are going through and am thankful they are attending mass as a family! My faith, lots of prayers and love of the Holy Family has gotten me through a lot of hills and valleys. And I thank God every day for the blessings He’s given me and my family
- Ann Marie Pohl
As we reflect on our blessings of the past year, we know we have been blessed. In fact, we like to say “Embarrassingly blessed.” The priest who presided at our wedding, said this phrase to us, and it still holds true today. Our blessings of this past year aren’t necessarily huge things, but rather seemingly minor things that have and will continue to be blessings for us.
Our oldest son Isaiah began school at MHT this year in the
first grade and has been surrounded by a culture that promotes the faith. He is learning about feast days, praying the rosary, participating in mass among other things. He comes home and shares these experiences with us and his siblings. As a “big” brother, his excitement about these events encourages his younger siblings to be excited about the faith. They can’t wait to shake Father Dennis’s hand at the end of Mass! We know we need to encourage the faith at home (and do!), but him being surrounded by people and having our faith tied into each school day is invaluable.
Also, the opportunities to go to adoration, prayer services, weekday Mass, retreats, etc., and having our children participate with us in these events is a great blessing. These activities are becoming the norm for them. As we hope and pray we are leading them towards a faith filled life, being present and a participant of these activities is important. We feel very lucky MHT has these opportunities to educate and expose our children to the Catholic faith.
Another blessing, of course, was our newest son’s baptism into the church and even more special, during Advent. During this time of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, we, too, get to hold our newborn. We’ve always thought it was extra special to have a new baby around Christmas time.
Even though we can take school, Mass, and Advent for granted as they can seemingly be on a check off list in our busy lives, we know these have been great blessings for us and our children. Doing these “little” things are a good reason of why we feel embarrassingly blessed.
- Matt and Jenna Epkey