Basking in the Son
Long days and less responsibility make summer a perfect time for your family’s faith to flourish. With no school and no homework, schedules tend to be more relaxed and kids have more time to explore and expand their spiritual horizons.
Jason Spoolstra, director of youth ministry for the Diocese of Fort Worth, said “everyone thinks of making resolutions at the New Year, but summer is also great time” for implementing ideas and activities for faith formation.
Here are some ideas to help you and your family to grow closer to the Lord and each other this summer.
Begin with the Foundation
Julie Kiehlbauch, mother of three and youth ministry assistant at St. Ann Parish in Burleson, said her family finds summer is a good time to “up the opportunity for sacraments.” Add a daily Mass during the week and go to Reconciliation as a family.
Start a family tradition. Pick an evening to pray the Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet as a family, study Scripture together, or discuss the readings from Sunday Mass. Have each family member choose a saint and learn about him or her.
Next, Check Out Your Parish
Many parishes offer Vacation Bible School, which offers fun and faith lessons for the younger ones. Don’t miss the experience when your children age out — youth and adults will be welcome helpers and assistants.
Discover what your parish youth ministry has scheduled for the summer, which can range from Bible study and game nights to overnight trips.
High school students have a selection of faith-filled conferences and retreats nearby. Registration usually begins at the parish level, but you can contact the diocese if your parish is not participating.
Steubenville Lone Star brings in nationally renowned speakers for a weekend of inspiration and evangelization through music, talks, prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, and Mass.
Camp Fort Worth focuses on local service projects in the diocese by day, with worship and fellowship in the evenings.
The Young Disciple Retreat delves deeper into discipleship and using your gifts to glorify God.
The Vocations Office sponsors the Quo Vadis retreat for young men beginning to consider their vocation.
Day Tripping with the Family
With 28 counties and 90 parishes, you’ll find lots to explore within the diocese. Among many gems in the diocese, you’ll find:
- Our Mother of Mercy Church in Fort Worth, a historically African-American parish, was designated as the primary Door of Mercy for the diocese during the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
- St. Peter Church in Lindsay is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places and is considered one of the most beautiful churches in Texas.
- The Marian grotto at St. Mary Church in Windthorst was built in 1949 and dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in thanksgiving for returning all 64 servicemen from World War II. It attracts visitors from around the world.
- St. Patrick Cathedral in downtown Fort Worth features beautiful statues and artwork, including five-feet-high Stations of the Cross carved in Italy.
If you are traveling this summer, a little time on the internet can yield big results. Shrines, basilicas, or missions may be located near your destination. Was the city founded by Catholics? Or does an American saint hail from there? With a bit of research, your family can discover a hidden treasure of the Church and make great memories.
Texas is home to four basilicas: St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica in Beaumont, St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica in Galveston, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower in San Antonio, and Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle in San Juan.
If you plan to send your child to camp, consider The Pines, a Catholic camp in East Texas. Kiehlbauch, whose children attended the camp, appreciated that all activities were directed back to God, from swimming to a walk in the woods.
Consider a mission trip as a family. Chris Vaughan, diocesan director of marriage and family life, spent a week with Family Missions Company in General Cepeda, Mexico last summer with his wife and six children. He said, “We helped serve Christ in very real ways. My wife and the younger ones visited the elderly and sick, and the older kids and I helped build houses.”
To Love is to Serve
It’s never too early to instill the value of serving. Local aid organizations need hands to sort clothes or canned goods. Pray outside an abortion clinic. Leave the world better than you found it by picking up trash at a park, then pray St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures.
Give your nearest nursing home a call. Residents love visitors to play music, play checkers, paint nails, or just socialize.
Summer boredom can be a blessing. With a bit of thought, your family can come up with more ideas to cultivate faith than Abraham has descendants. And may these seeds of faith bloom over a lifetime.