When we were young parents, it would dismay us when our kids complained that we were the only family who didn’t go to that movie or buy that new game. What a relief it was when we discovered other parents at church who were just as uncool as we were. Everybody was not following the crowd. We made sure we saw more of those people.
Having a group of Christian friends was essential for us through our parenting years, both as a support for our marriage and as an example to our children. One of the best things parents can do to succeed as a Domestic Church is to choose good Christian friends.
When we feel like we are in the minority with our Christian values, choosing friends who share our values can give us allies in living our faith actively. Even though it sometimes seems we are “islands of Christian life,” we actually have lots of company in the Universal Church. If our partner families have diverse age ranges and life experiences, all’s the better. Together, people of faith can cooperate to do more good than one family alone could. Catholic families that experience the joy of the Gospel are the best evangelizers of other families, as well as their neighbors and coworkers.
Developing support networks does not mean circling the wagons and withdrawing from the world into isolated enclaves. Instead, families simply accompany one another on the formative journey of trying to live their faith authentically, welcome new friends, and serve others.
Reaching out to other families, especially those who are less connected to church, is a great way to evangelize one’s neighbors by introducing them to concrete, meaningful ways of living their faith. By working together, Christian families can provide support to those trying to raise a family in a society indifferent or hostile to Gospel values.
Because our family intentionally formed a community with like-minded neighbors, we learned from each other how to be Christian families. Over the years, our friends from church got us involved in many faith-building projects – helping a refugee family find housing, painting an old rectory, hosting missionaries, making a pilgrimage – which we would never have tried on our own. Our children worked beside us, watching and learning. We discovered strength in numbers, and we had fun doing it. This is one of the many ways our family chooses life.
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Dr. Lauri Przybysz is a leader in the Christian Family Movement, a network of Catholic families in 42 countries that aims to improve society by building up the Domestic Church. She holds a Doctorate in Ministry from the Catholic University of America, and she has served as an archdiocesan coordinator of Marriage and Family Life, a Pastoral Associate, and middle school religion teacher. She and her husband, John, recently participated in consultations on the Synod for the Family at the Vatican. They have been married for 42 years and have 20 grandchildren.