Before we got married I told him that we needed to raise our children Catholic because it was the only map I had to help our children grow up to become good humans. It never occurred to me that he would desire the same path. It never occurred to me that he would become Catholic.
When my husband, Ryan, and I first started dating he attended church with our family occasionally. When we moved away he came to church sometimes when I visited my mom. After dating for eight years and with persistent encouragement from my mom, Ryan and I married in our hometown of Lufkin. I knew she had always regretted not marrying my dad in a church, wearing a beautiful dress and celebrating with a reception. Thinking back now it’s so beautiful and romantic to have received all my sacraments at my home parish of St. Patrick’s. Almost exactly a year later we welcomed our first daughter and baptized her in the same church. We attended mass as a family of three off and on. It wasn’t until our second daughter was born that we made it a habit to attend church every Sunday. I admitted to Ryan that I felt a bit lost without attending church. I felt that it made our week better somehow and that I needed him to help me get our family to mass. Until then I felt I had always done the pulling, I was the only one making our faith a priority and it was hard.
Growing up neither of us had a male figure that showed us an example of Christ. My mom was faithfully Catholic. She worked hard to put us through Catholic school and made sure we never missed Sunday mass. We lived right across the street from our home parish. My dad might have went to church with us a handful of times. The last time my dad attended mass was Christmas Eve 2007. I didn’t realize at the time, but my dad was very ill. He would never attend Mass with us again or see another Christmas.
Statistically, if the father is the faithful leader in the family 66% of their children will stay loyal to their faith. If the mother is the religious role model, 33% of her children will remain in the church. That statistic holds true in my family.
I always pray for Ryan’s spiritual health and his faith in God but I never imagined that he would be so enthusiastically committed to the Catholic faith as he is now.
The turning point was June 2016. We had left our family friendly neighborhood and moved thirty miles away. It might as well have been another state. We were leaving a community that we had built. I had started a mommy workout group in my garage and became very close to many of my neighbors.
We wanted my husband’s commute to be shorter and have more time together in the evenings. We sold our house in Cypress and found a rental in The Woodlands. We immediately looked for a church. We attended two different ones and chose Sts. Simon and Jude. The choice was purely based on the fact that we never had to leave the trees of our new town. We didn’t have to get on the highway. Both churches were equal distance.
We both realized that God needed to be the center of our lives. We joined a small group about eight months after we had moved. We joined families from church once a week to fellowship over food and share our faith journeys. We have made amazing friends. It was a fateful day, actually fat Tuesday, that we said Yes to joining a group at church that would change our lives forever. We said Yes to making God a priority, we said Yes to becoming an active member of our church and my husband said Yes to becoming a servant of the Catholic faith. We also said Yes to volunteering regularly at the church and we are part of the family choir.
Ryan takes his job as the leader of our family seriously. He realized that the most important role was being the spiritual leader. We baptized our second daughter last year on Mother’s Day, Ryan received his first communion and confirmation last week on Pentacost Sunday and next month our third daughter will be baptized at our home parish here in The Woodlands. Norah’s godparents are a family from our small group. They threw Ryan a crawfish boil to celebrate his confirmation. We met them two years ago and feel so much like family. They are such an amazing example for us.
I’m so proud of Ryan. After he read a chapter on marriage from Fulton Sheen’s book ‘You’re Life is Worth Living,” he texted me that I had saved him. What he doesn’t know is that he really saved me. He always strives to be the best and it pushes me to better. God gave us each other and I’m am in awe of the gifts He gives us everyday. I am so grateful for my marriage and the beautiful girls we get to raise.
I’m so thankful for the families at our church for being such a great example for our family. I am especially grateful that my mother has been so faithful and has always pushed me to do the same. My mom and her husband have always been so supportive of Ryan’s Catholic journey.