Lots of love
Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (On Love in the Family) writes, “Large families are a joy for the Church. They are an expression of the fruitfulness of love.”
Married 14 years, David and Jill Foley have six children, which David said is “great for us. Each kid is easier in a lot of ways because the others help and they run along and fit in with the other kids.”
The Foleys, parishioners at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Keller, shared their experiences of family, love, and faith with the North Texas Catholic.
STARTING TOGETHER: Jill and David went to Mass at different times, but a mutual Catholic friend introduced them.
David’s best marriage advice is to choose the right spouse. “Your shared faith is most important,” he said.
STAYING TOGETHER: Jill explained David works from home, “so we get to be around each other all day long. David has opportunities to show me love through acts of service constantly — little things like making my cup of coffee when I need to run out the door.
“After the kids go to bed, we have more meaningful conversations and connect in that way.”
TABLE TALK: Jill said, “Family meals are very important to us. It’s really Dave’s time to lead conversation and talk about the things that are important to our family. It has to be in a bit of a fun way because we have six kids around the table, but that’s when we talk about the Gospel and the homily, that’s when we talk about what the kids are studying in school, what we have coming up on our schedule as a family.”
SCHOOL DAYS: The Foleys intentionally selected a home in a neighborhood with good public schools, but when it was time to enroll John David, they chose Catholic education. David said, “Even if everything’s great and neutral at the [public] school, it’s not going to be positively Catholic.”
Jill added, “We both agreed that our children’s day should be filled with faith and filled with God.”
BIGGER AND BETTER: With six children, Jill said, “[The children’s] relationships are just beautiful to watch — the way that the older ones take care of the younger ones, but then also the way the older kids are a lot more likely to play silly games and enjoy things when they have a younger one to bring that out in them.”
She cherishes watching them teach each other, “especially teaching things about the faith or about virtue, like when your six-year-old teaches your two-year-old to make the Sign of the Cross.”
VILLAGE PEOPLE: Jill said, “If we only had a few children, we could manage everything ourselves and we could be contained in the Foley household. But with all of the children, we are part of the village, but we also need the village. That really strengthens the community when you’re able to help others, but you also need the help of others, whether it’s a ride to practice or prayers.”
CENTRAL COMMUNITY: David is involved with the Knights of Columbus, the Troops of Saint George, and the legal organization St. Thomas More Society. He coaches a basketball team at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Jill’s participation revolves around the school: the school advisory council, Seton Moms, Bible study, and Parent and School Association. This fall, she has helped plan the school’s Nov. 11 gala.
David said, “We’re just trying to make the Church the center of our lives.”
Jill explained the parish and school community take on more importance since their families live out of state. “It’s so important that we have friends and neighbors that live our faith.”
David added their involvement “helps you get through things. It’s not just — rely on yourself, your own self-discipline” to be a faithful disciple of Christ.
MEDIA MATES: The busy parents eliminated “vapid media” that they sometimes watched before they had children, according to David.
The children “helped us to discern what media should be in our lives. Once there are always little eyes and ears around, we think, ‘Really we don’t need that in our life.’ We don’t even have time or space for things if it’s not truth, goodness, and beauty. It just doesn’t fit,” said Jill.
TEACHING THE KIDS: Routine, Christian books, and religious objects help teach faith to the Foley children. Books and videos prompt discussion on virtues and character. Their house has a family altar, candles, a crucifix, and other religious art. They pray in the car, at bedtime, and at meals, as well as a family Rosary on Sundays.
“Part of our prayer routine is a litany of saints, and each person has at least one patron saint. We’re praying for their intercession. It helps me to feel like even if I’m dropping a ball, a saint for each of the people in our family can be there,” said Jill.
TEACHING THE PARENTS: Jill said her children have taught her “a lot of humility. The lowering of standards and letting go of pride. The most important thing is that we love. We love our children well; we love each other well; and that’s what we have to shoot for.
“We might be late, we might have stained clothes, we might have screaming kids, but the most important thing is we try to love.”