A family of faith: George and Rani Augustine
Although George Augustine and his future wife, Rani, were strangers as they grew up in the state of Kerala, India, they shared the ultimate thing in common: faith in Jesus Christ and membership in the Church He established.
They recall their parents and grandparents living a deep faith and devoted prayer life. Now grandparents themselves, they pray for the health and protection of their children and grandchildren, and that the family’s subsequent generations will cling to the faith that Saint Thomas the Apostle brought to Kerala in the first century, according to tradition.
Pope Francis, in his exhortation Amoris Laetitia (On Love in the Family), acknowledges the role of parents and grandparents in being the first, and primary, teachers of their children. He writes, “The family is the first school of human values, where we learn the wise use of freedom. Certain inclinations develop in childhood and become so deeply rooted that they remain throughout life...” (Amoris Laetitia, 274)
George and Rani Augustine are examples of living a faith deeply rooted by parents and grandparents, and then intentionally passing those values to following generations.
BLESSED BEGINNING: “We have been so lucky to be part of the Catholic faith,” said George, “because the fundamental truth, humanity itself, is based upon the redemption — Jesus’ suffering, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. We have been blessed to be aware of His light.”
EARLY LESSONS: George recalls his grandfather would get on his knees at 5 p.m. each day to pray. “No one could talk. That lasted for about two, two-and-a half hours. Very strict.” George admitted the silence annoyed him as a youth, but he learned prayer “is meaningful. It is with a purpose.”
MOTHER MARY: George and Rani both say their mothers were devoted to the Holy Rosary, “praying it day and night” for their children and grandchildren. “I could feel it,” said George. “We were protected in every aspect.”
MARRIAGE MAKER: According to the tradition in Kerala, their families arranged an introduction after ensuring that each was a strong Catholic. This year, they celebrated 34 years of marriage and have three sons and two grandchildren.
The couple maintains a habit of evening prayer from their childhoods until today, even when their three sons were toddlers.
The routine, which lasts 35-45 minutes, begins by praying the Angelus and Rosary. Next, they pray for departed souls and recite a Litany of the Saints. After a Bible reading and discussion, they sing a hymn to Mother Mary.
MASS MOVEMENT: The couple attends daily Mass about two times each week at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Flower Mound. Sunday Mass, “a must,” is usually celebrated at St. Alphonsa Catholic Church in Coppell according to the Syro-Malabar rite they grew up with in India.
WELL CULTURED: The couple has lived in India, New York, and Texas, and when their sons were young, they sent them to live with their grandparents to ensure that they would understand both cultures.
“The Church is one of the major meeting points for everyone, to share ideas and make a community,” said George.
PASS IT ON: When living in Rockland County, New York, George helped the priest begin a religious education program at a new parish. He has also served as director of religious education at St. Alphonsa Parish.
His oldest son Alvin teaches high school religious education at the parish.
GLOBAL MATCH: Alvin attended World Youth Day in Poland in 2016 and befriended Ann-Christy John, a young woman from England who was discerning a religious vocation.
Some time later, when Ann-Christy discerned that God was calling her to married life, Alvin expressed his interest in deepening their relationship.
The couple has been married three years and has a baby, Luke.
FAITH AT WORK: Rani worked in health care, and she said her faith helped her “work sincerely,” as expressed in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others.”
George, an insurance agent, helps individuals plan for the future, whether it’s retirement or when “something goes wrong.” He views his profession as “an essential part of my vocation. God protects everyone, but you should also have your own plan. His plan is going to take place, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any plans.”
ACTIONS SPEAK: When it comes to raising children, George and Rani insisted, “It’s not what you say that matters; it’s what you do.”
TROUBLED TIMES: When faced with difficult situations, the couple prays and keeps focused on God. George explained, “You pass through. Every time we face something, our faith becomes stronger and stronger.”