THERE’S no doubting what the Roe family will prioritise this weekend.
Parents Daniel and Kristen said faith expression was “normalised” in their home and weekly Mass attendance “has never been an issue”.
“I often find myself saying to other Christian friends that one of the perks of being Catholic is that we have so many choices when it comes to Mass times,” the mother of four said of living in Brisbane.
“(There’s) Saturday nights, Sunday morning and Sunday nights … (and) we can always make the time for Mass, no matter how busy we are on a weekend.”
The Parkinson couple agreed many Christians “don’t give priority to Mass” although there was a desire to “still uphold Christian values and want this for their kids”.
“Some people don’t see what an hour a week can do to your overall family life,” Kristen said.
Daniel said appreciating such “value” began at home.
“We both know many people who grew up attending Church and youth groups but who gradually moved away from the Church or at least (from) full-time participation in religious rituals,” he said.
“There seems to be a time in the three to four years after people leave high school where they make a decision as to whether they see relevance in continuing their faith journey.
“I have seen this in my own family and it appears to be affected by many factors such as work, lifestyle (and) the friends you choose.”
Daniel said he understood how these and other pursuits can lead to not prioritising Mass, saying, “If importance is not given to faith expression at home it could be easy to let it fall by the wayside.”
As a family the Roes are encouraged by not only having so many Mass times at their fingertips but also a lively parish to be involved in.
“There are still a number of young families in Sunnybank parish that maintain constant contact with the Church, made up of our youth group contemporaries,” Daniel, who received all sacraments in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Sunnybank, said.
He and Kristen are delighted that their children Giselle, 11, Xavier, 10, Zachary, 7, and Alexander, 4, have all received sacraments where they where married in 2005.
The couple was modelled constant faith expression in their formative years.
“My family have the background of Spanish Filipino in the Philippines where the Catholic faith is pretty much more like the culture,” Kristen, who was part of Daisy Hill parish, said.
“I was brought up going to Mass and with Catholic values at home.”
Asking pertinent questions at university spurred an “aha moment”.
“Something just clicked,” Kristen said.
“The values that my family taught me growing up stuck with me, however it wasn’t until I was on my own asking the questions that I really understood my faith and developed a true relationship with God.”
Following university studies in business, Kristen co-founded Catholic Kids’ Club, a Sunnybank parish outreach now in its 13th year.
“We now bring our own kids to Catholic Kids’ Club,” she said.
“I think it’s important for kids to be able to learn about their faith in a way they can relate to.
“We like to think of us as a link to help between home, church and school.”
Kristen also ministered as deanery youth co-ordinator for Brisbane South Deanery after World Youth Day 2008 and nowadays works in the Real Talk office, organising a myriad of outreach initiatives for young people to hear Gospel values and truths.
“I could really see the Holy Sprit working actively in my life,” she said of beginning among the Real Talk family.
“(And) I can see that Real Talk makes a difference in young people’s lives.
“We present a different view of this topic (relationships and sexuality) for young people to what they see in the media. There’s such a big need.”
Kristen said she “is scared” for her children at times but, knowing Real Talk existed, helped her “feel a little more at ease”.
Daniel said he hoped to instil “fairness” in his sons particularly, “(a sense of) sharing and giving opportunity to others as well as yourself – (as well as) understanding, the awareness to look at situations from different viewpoints, the need to act with respect towards others, the ability to try and find the joy and opportunity in situations, (to) not simply to identify the negative”.
He would like them to be “men that will uphold their Christian values and appreciate that these values enhance them as human beings, and draw people to themselves as a result of their beliefs and consequent actions”.
Kristen said they aspired for Giselle, who starred in the Sound of Music theatre production last year, to be “someone who is confident with herself and in her faith”.
“(So) that she knows that it is okay to be different from what the world is telling her – to be a person that shines from within because of how she lives her faith and that others are drawn to as she is a witness to it,” Kristen said.
Daniel and Kristen are pleased to see Giselle make decisions that are her own in terms of faith expression.
“I’ve really started to enjoy going to Mass more when I am involved in doing something,” the 11-year-old said.
“I also enjoy Masses when they have music for young people … (and) this year I attended the Ignite Summer Camp; it helped me feel closer to God and understand my faith a little more.”
Asked how families can best cope with time pressures of today, the Roes were optimistic.
“To cope with pressure or problems you need teamwork and for parents to communicate with each other so that everyone is on the same page,” Daniel said.
“Families need to make time to slow down and re-assess goals, whether they be Church, social, school or work-related.”
Kristen too said communication was key but realised “it can be hard” if parents felt as though they were “like passing ships”.
“It’s important to make time to just talk about your day with each other,” she said.
“Alexander loves when we go around the dinner table and share something good that happened to us during the day and something that wasn’t great.
“Daniel and I also need to make time to just talk and connect.
“It can be very tempting to just flick the television on for our down time, however to be able to talk about the day and what’s coming up can be crucial to how the next day will run.”
The faith-filled duo agreed being “surrounded” by families who shared similar values and challenges was vital.
“(Being able) to talk and share about your struggles and your wins, to be there when you need that little push to keep going and to affirm your actions,” Kristen said.
“I also find myself reading blogs from other Catholic families and parents from all over the world. I find this helps to re-focus on the daily tasks and gives me a bit if a shake-up if needed.”
Above all else, Mass attendance will remain a family experience, Kristen saying, “I think it’s important, with our busy lives, that we always make time for Mass”.
“Faith needs to come first and if we do this, everything else will fall into place,” she said.
By Selina Venier