WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Diane Rouleau says Church and schools are to help parents raise children in the faith.
Parents evangelize their children through "the natural dialogue" they have with their offspring and by embodying Gospel love in their daily words and actions, says the archdiocese's assistant director of family and life.
"You don't need to necessarily have five hours of Sunday school in the family every Saturday to prep them for the Sunday Mass," Diane Rouleau said.
Instead, answering their questions and encouraging them to encounter Christ in the beauty of the world and in other people will help them to have that encounter, Rouleau said April 6.
Families evangelize their communities through the daily relationships they have and through loving other people, she said. "That's when people see Christ in you."
Rouleau gave a catechetical talk about the role of the Christian family at Ephphatha House near Stony Plain. Mike Landry and his wife Jennifer gave a witness presentation at the event called Strong Catholic Families, Strong Catholic Youth.
Said Rouleau: "The parents are there to educate; they are the primary educators, the first ones in education on the faith, the first ones in education of what it means to be human and how to interact in society.
"The Church and the schools and local society are there to support the parents in those tasks."
Rouleau said the family is also called to produce vocations.
"We won't get any more priests if parents don't encourage their children to at least be open to the call," she said.
"We don't need to push our sons to the priesthood, we don't need to push our daughters into religious communities; we (just) need to encourage them to enter into that conversation with God."
Rouleau began her talk with a quote from Pope John Paul II's apostolic exhortation on the family to illustrate the point that the family is foundational for Christian life.
Pope John Paul wrote: "The family finds in the plan of God the Creator and Redeemer not only its identity, what it is, but also its mission, what it can and should do."
The family is that community of persons oriented to the full development of personhood in each member, Rouleau said. It does this through Trinitarian love, a love that is generous and fruitful and faithful and open to life.
Since the time of Jesus, she continued, parents have had a major role in developing the human and spiritual life of their children.
In the family, children learn the basic skills of relating to others. They learn boundaries. They learn generosity and ways to deal with life's challenges. They learn respect for self and respect for others. They learn the value of people within and outside their family. They develop ways of dealing with differences.
It wasn't much different in Jesus' time. Jesus was born into a family and a community. He was born to a mother, to a father and came to us in a vulnerable and innocent form.
"Similar to ourselves, Jesus grew up learning how to talk, how to walk and how to play. He told a lot of stories. Chances are that he learned that in the family. He learned in the family what we learned as well."
Jesus grew up in Nazareth in the Jewish tradition going to temples, learning to pray and learning all the good old Jewish ceremonies like the Sabbath and the Passover. Mary and Joseph willingly taught Jesus the traditions.
"We can see that our families are similar to that. We teach them about going to Sunday Mass, praying the rosary, praying to God through Mary in the rosary, helping each other out, celebrating the Eucharist, adoration, all of that," Rouleau said.