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By Susan Hines-Brigger

A New Beginning


Writing From the Heart
The Importance of Families
Family Time
For Teens: Exploring Your Family's History
For Kids: What You Love About Your Family

Change can elicit a wide range of emotions—excitement, sadness, fear and a number of others. Every day we deal with change in our lives.

This month, we at St. Anthony Messenger are making some changes. After 40 years, Mary Lynne Rapien, author of the “Between Youth and Me” column, is retiring. Rather than try to re-create the magic with which Mary Lynne filled each of her columns, we have decided to start anew.

These pages will now be devoted to Catholic families and the issues with which they deal, such as what certain Catholic traditions mean and how to celebrate them with your children, what it means to be a family or helping your kids get the most out of Mass. Basically, the main purpose of this column is to help reinforce Catholic culture at home.

In addition to those types of topics, we’ll also talk about current issues such as how to combat violence and promote peace, ways to take back our family time and how to teach sportsmanship.

Some months we’ll offer discussion questions, other months will see us offering a special recipe or project.

But even though we are starting something new, some things will stay the same. For instance, “Pete and Repeat” will continue to challenge you every month on these very pages.

And we’ll still have something for the younger age-groups with a kids’ section. We will also have a section targeted to teens. Both will offer information on that month’s topic specifically geared toward those age-groups.

Writing From the Heart

Perhaps you’re wondering who I am and what my interest is in writing this column. Well, first and foremost, I’m a mom to two-year-old Madison. I am also, however, an aunt to seven nieces and nephews (Edward, Mary, Samantha, Rex, Rosie, Russell and Lucy) and godmother of two. My husband, Mark, and I have been married for six years. And I have been an assistant editor for this magazine for seven years.

As to why I am writing this column, I guess the best way to explain it is that I have a passion for this topic, especially since I had my daughter. I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school from elementary school through college, so Catholic faith and tradition have always been a constant in my family and my life. I remember my mom always saying that our family could get through most anything with faith. I always believed her and things almost always seemed to work out. That strong faith tradition is what I want to pass on to my daughter. But as I have found in the past two years, it’s not always easy. Some things I forget, others I guess I just never truly understood—at least not enough to explain them now.

I often find myself struggling with ways to celebrate the many faith traditions I recall from my own childhood and what they meant. (Exactly when and why did we put up the Jesse tree?) In discussions with others, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was not the only one in this boat. And so, an idea for this column was born.

The Importance of Families

The family has always been an important part of the Catholic faith. Twenty years ago this November, Pope John Paul II invoked the Holy Family as an example of the day-to-day joys and challenges of family life: “Through God’s mysterious design, it was in that family that the Son of God spent long years of a hidden life. It is therefore the prototype and example for all Christian families. It was unique in the world. Its life was passed in anonymity and silence in a little town in Palestine. It underwent trials of poverty, persecution and exile. It glorified God in an incomparably exalted and pure way. And it will not fail to help Christian families—indeed, all the families in the world—to be faithful to their day-to-day duties, to bear the cares and tribulations of life, to be open and generous to the needs of others, and to fulfill with joy the plan of God in their regard.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church also emphasizes the importance of families, calling them “the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society” (2207).

And so in light of that long-standing tradition of the Catholic faith, I welcome you and your families to St. Anthony Messenger’s newest column. I look forward to meeting you here each month, and hope you will share your questions, experiences, concerns and suggestions with me. Send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45210 or e-mail me at

Next Month: The Christian Connection With Halloween

Family Time

Families come in all different shapes and sizes. What is unique about your family? Have each family member say one thing they enjoy most about your family. Is there anything they would like to change? If so, what and why?

Have a family night. Pull out the photo albums and home videos. Celebrate your family’s good times, milestones and memories.

For Teens: Exploring Your Family's History

You’re probably familiar with your immediate relatives, but what about your extended family tree? When my dad and I started researching our family tree we were pleasantly surprised by the stories we found about our past relatives.

Perhaps at some time in school you have had to draw up a family tree with names and dates, but did you discover anything else about the person? Perhaps you could talk to relatives or do research at the library to find out more about your family’s genealogy. A good place to start is the Web site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For Kids: What You Love About Your Family

Draw a picture of your family. Under the picture of each person, write the one thing you like most about that person. If you need help writing, ask either your mom or dad or an older sibling for help. At dinner, show your family the picture, what you wrote about them and why.


For more ideas on how to celebrate with your family, check out Holy Bells and Wonderful Smells: Year-Round Activities for Classrooms and Families by Jeanne Hunt or The Best of Holy Days and Holidays by Gaynell Bordes Cronin, both published by St. Anthony Messenger Press. 

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