Summer Youth Faith Formation Program

June 18-28

8:30am to 12:30pm

Registrations begin March 25th – site goes live then. 


We offer this to incoming 1st graders, 3rd – 6th Grade.  It’s a great program filled with activities, learning, faith experience and field trips.  When signing up for this two week intensive program we ask that 1) participants attend each day and if they cannot then to register during the year and 2) that parents and kids attend 2 “in-person” enrichment sessions* and 2 other enrichment activities during the year.


*Until we get enough volunteer catechist and aides for each class if you didn’t attend the enrichment sessions then you’ll be put on a waiting list.

Vacation Bible School 2018

June 4-8
Grades: Pre-School 3 (potty trained) to 5th Grade
AM & PM Sessions (9:00am to Noon and 1pm to 4pm). **Pre-school program only available in the morning**.
Sign-ups begin April 1st.

Tips to Creating A Household Lent Plan

Tip 1: Use Candles

Just if you want to. But honestly, it’s the best idea I’ve ever had!

Here’s the backstory to the Lent candle pattern we’ve developed over the years, and here’s how it goes in our house (feel free to do whatever you like):

Just like with Advent candles, once a day, you light the candle of the current week, and all the candles that have already been lit. So for the first week, you light one candle, for the second, you light two, and so on.

Each week the candle is connected with a Bible reading and a sentence that makes a point from that reading.

The Sacraparental Lent Candle Pattern

Arrange seven candles on your dining table or somewhere prominent. We use six purple and one white, but you can do whatever you like.

As we light the candles, we say:

  1. We light the first candle to remind us that Jesus is wise.
    2. We light the the second candle to remind us that Jesus and the prophets make us brave.
    3. We light the third candle to remind us that Jesus gives us important jobs to do to make the world better.
    4. We light the fourth candle to remind us that Jesus gives us a fresh start whenever we need one.
    5. We light the fifth candle to remind us that Jesus is in charge of life (and death).
    6. We light the sixth candle to remind us that Jesus is a surprising King.
    7. We light the seventh candle to remind us that Jesus is alive.


Tip 2: Do something daily

Lighting a candle each Advent Sunday at church is awesome, and we’ve found it is even better to light candles every day at home as well. A day is a long time for a little kid, and a week is beyond their comprehension.

I warmly encourage you to try doing something that’s a daily practice – or, you know, most days.

Some ideas and examples (just pick one or two – this isn’t supposed to be a list of a million things to fit in!):

What we’ll be doing

This Lent, we’ll have three adults, a four-year-old and a one-year-old in the house.

We’re planning to do these things daily(ish):

  • light Lenten candles each night at dinner time, using this pattern
  • make a purple paper chain prayer streamer, ring by ring, adding to it daily
  • read or tell stories about Jesus at bedtime.


Tip 3: Talk about Jesus (more)

Lent is squarely about Jesus. It is an opportunity to refocus our own lives towards Jesus, too.

Perhaps you could do a little audit of your daily and weekly life at home. I have two key questions for you, and the answers may surprise you:

  1. How much of your day or week is focused on or connected with Jesus – from yourperspective?
  2. How often each day or week do you mention Jesus or God or the Holy Spirit in the hearing of children?

I think it’s common for kids to have a completely different impression of how ‘spiritual’ their family is than their parents, because so much of adult spirituality is internal and silent, or happens out of earshot of kids.

As I wrote in this guest post on Lulastic and the Hippyshake:

You might be a pro at finding God in everyday life, or seeing the spiritual angle of your routines and choices. In my observation, many kids don’t notice this in their parents. Churches I have been part of are full of kids who would be astonished to know why their parents actually follow Jesus, because the subject simply hasn’t come up. If you want to model spiritual stuff to your kids, you’ll have to live it out loud.

[Read more about how we do this in our family at Lulastic.]                        

This Lent, live your commitment to Jesus out loud in front of your kids. For example:

When you do the recycling or turn off a light in an empty room, talk about how ‘it’s important to take care of God’s earth’.

When you intervene in a squabble, remind children that Jesus wants us to be kind.

When you buy fairtrade chocolate or free-range eggs, talk about how Jesus wants us to use our money to make the world a better place.

If you sometimes make a quick silent prayer for a friend or as an ambulance passes, try doing it out loud.

When a child makes a great choice, connect their growing wisdom and maturity with following Jesus or being filled with the Holy Spirit (as far as is appropriate and true for them): ‘I love how the Holy Spirit is helping you to be wiser every day.’

Also, what about taking turns telling your own story of choosing to follow Jesus? If our kids heard the adults around them ‘give their testimony’ each year at Lent, they would know us and God a lot better by adulthood, I reckon.

What we’ll be doing

We do a lot of this stuff in our house, so it will be business as usual for the most part.

Our four-year-old has started being interested in who else we know who follows Jesus too, so I’m wondering about asking friends if they can explain to him why they do. I’ll let you know how that goes!

Tip 4: Try Lenten meals (but probably not fasts)

It’s traditional to connect Lent with some kind of altered pattern of eating and drinking, usually some kind of ‘fasting’.

In the Old Testament, fasting is usually portrayed as a spontaneous response to what Scot McKnight calls a ‘sacred, grievous moment’. It is also always about going without food.

By the time of Jesus, however, Jews were also doing regular ‘stationary’ fasting (meaning the whole community or ‘station’ did it together at the same time), twice a week. Jesus was challenged as to why his followers didn’t take part in the weekly round of fasting, so it seems to have been an expected part of Jewish culture.

Jesus did, however, famously fast for 40 days in the desert while preparing to make the career change from carpenter to Messiah.

Fasting continued to develop as an important spiritual practice in the early church. By the end of the first century, adult converts were encouraged to fast in the lead-up to their baptisms. Christians fasted twice a week and also for the morning or day until they shared the Eucharist(communion) on Sundays. By around the fourth century it was usual for converts to be baptised at Easter, and for those being baptised – and their supporters – to fast.

The Orthodox churches have a strict vegan fast for 55 days leading up to Easter (yes, you read that right. Read more here.)

Roman Catholics are encouraged to give up meat for Lent, and in particular, to donate to charity the money that they save from eating more simply.

So what should we do in our family practices of Lent? Should fasting be part of it?

Children are not traditionally called to fast at all, and I’m pretty wary of changing kids’ diets for Lent. What’s in a kid’s diet that shouldn’t be there for six weeks?

BUT: you might find that some kind of change in meal habits could help (particularly older) kids to focus on Lent as a different kind of time.

Maybe you could start eating at a slightly different time, or move the dining table to a different location for Lent, or use different table linen or plates.

Maybe twice a week the family could eat a simple, cheap meal, like soup, or rice and dal, and donate the money saved to a particular charitable cause.

Maybe once a week you could all cook extra helpings together to drop off to someone who needs a break from cooking (a new parent, someone who’s sick, someone who lives alone).

Maybe you could volunteer weekly at a soup kitchen or other food charity (like a food bank or food rescue service).

Maybe you could learn to make special Lent foods together, like these prayer pretzels. Learning a new vegetarian or vegan family dinner recipe or two would be a useful thing you could use throughout the coming year to save money and go easier on the planet.

Do you have other ideas? Please pop them in a comment below!

What we’ll be doing

We’ll have our Lent candles to light at dinner time.

I’m thinking about the idea of having a simple meal once or twice a week. I’ll try selling it to the household and see how it goes down!

I like the idea of changing how the table looks. Maybe we’ll have a table-cloth for Lent?

Tip 5: Engage all the senses

Talking about our spirituality is important. Enacting it in concrete ways through experiences, visual reminders and special objects can be super helpful too.

One of the great things about lighting candles for Lent is that it is so multi-sensory. You can see the candles on the table, all day. You get to light them (or watch an adult light them!). You can smell the match and the wick, and use your own breath to blow them out at the end of the meal. Different colours might come into play.

Other ways to use the range of senses to connect kids with God:

  • Instead of just saying ‘Thank you, God’ for the good stuff in your day, write or draw it and stick it up on your own family Gratitude Wall.
  • Make a shredder confessional.
  • Buy a large map of the world, or get a large atlas out of the library. Use the visual reminders of different parts of the world to pray simple, one-sentence prayers for the people of different countries and regions.
  • Make a prayer tree of photos of people you want to pray for as a household.
  • Get out of the house and volunteer somewhere to make the world a better place.
  • Watch some videosthat help kids explore spirituality: wildlife documentaries, animated Bible stories, stories of how other people live… add your ideas below, please!
  • Write character traits (wisdom, kindness or self-control, for example) you want God to develop in you onto balloons, then blow them up, picturing how the Holy Spirit breathes life into us and makes us more like Jesus.

What we’ll be doing

The candles and paper chains will add some three-dimensionality to our Lent.

If the streamer goes down well, I could imagine switching to one of the other ideas later on for variety – but I could also imagine not quite having the energy for that! We’ll see.

Tip 6: Recruit a Lent Team

When I was researching the meaning of Lent in different traditions, I was struck by how, particularly for the early church and for the Orthodox churches, fasting and Lenten practices are community events. We can’t do this stuff by ourselves.

So why not make yourselves a team for Lent? Ask around your friends or at church for a few other households – with or without children – who would like to do some aspect of things together.

  • You could get together on Sunday evenings, have a meal together and light candles.
  • You could go out each Saturday afternoon and do a beach or park clean-up together, somewhere different each week, armed with rubber gloves, hand sanitiser and rubbish bags.
  • You could do a cook-a-thon together, and make lots of meals to distribute to people who would appreciate some help.
  • You could learn a new skill together that will benefit you all in the coming year: bread-making, sewing, car repair, first aid, perhaps? What else?


What we’ll be doing

Last time we did the Lent candles, lots of people around the Sacraparental community did it too and it was so great to have the company! If you’re keen, please leave a comment and stay connected throughout Lent, here or on Facebook or Twitter.

This year, inspired by lovely Christmas evening get-together with friends, I’ve sent out an email to four households asking if anyone wants to combine forces for some of this stuff, and get together in person. I’ll keep you posted.

Tip 7: Share the love

Make sure your Lenten practice includes things that impact people beyond your household.

The prophet Isaiah brings this message from God:

6 Is not this the fast that I choose:to loose the bonds of injustice,to undo the thongs of the yoke,to let the oppressed go free,and to break every yoke?7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house;when you see the naked, to cover them,and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

(Isaiah 58:6-7)

Fasting that doesn’t benefit our neighbour in some way is worthless or worse.

Whatever your Lenten plan is, make sure it faces outwards as well as inwards.

What we’ll be doing

We have the classic situation of a local park covered in rubbish, so I’m keen to do a Lent clean-up. Again, I’ll need to see who’s with me on this!

When we talk, each week, about how Jesus helps us be wise, kind, and so on, I’ll be making an effort to relate these things to why we have moved to Chiang Mai, and how we are trying, as a household, to make a difference for people in Myanmar.


Tip 8: Kick-start the rest of the year

Lent is an annual opportunity to refocus and recalibrate, but it’s not supposed to be the only time we grow or develop – or think about Jesus!

In this post on celebrating Easter with kids, I have a few ideas of new Easter traditions you can start in your household so that Easter is seen as the beginning of the next season, and we can all build on Lent to develop further during the rest of the year.


For example:

  • Review responsibilities. Is your eight-year-old ready for the challenge of cooking dinner or doing the grocery shopping online? Would someone like to swap from recycling to vacuuming as a weekly responsibility?
  • Chat about your household spirituality. Would people like to do something together in the post-Easter period? Search Pinterest or ask friends for some ideas. Would you like to read a nourishing book together each night? Narnia? Start a gratitude wallor other creative activity? Do people want to pray more together or more by themselves? Get older kids and adults to have a look at Ten Ways to Pray for some more ideas.
  • Discuss your charitable giving. Are there new initiatives you want to support? New ways of saving money in order to give it away? Do kids want to have responsibility for some giving? Again, remember that kids may not even be aware of half your charitable activity, and if you are to leave a legacy of generosity, they need to be apprenticed into it.
  • Brainstorm how your household can make the world a better place in the coming year. Check out this post on kids making a differenceif you need some ideas.
What we’ll be doing

My kids are a bit young for some of the family meeting ideas, but I think new clothes at Easter could be a goer.

Whatever crafty/multi-sensory prayer things we do over Lent, I’ll be keeping an eye on what works well and planning something to take the place of Lenten practice once the next season begins. I like the idea of having a different dinner-time spiritual practice for each season of the church year (so I’m just working on one for the time between Christmas and Easter at the moment).



Ideas On Ways to Celebrate Christmas after December 25th

Celebrate Christmas to the Fullest with These Catholic Traditions

            From the website:

Family Christmas traditions are a great way to connect, make memories, and grow closer to Christ. Here are 21+ Catholic traditions to choose from this Christmas season.

Family Christmas traditions are a great way to connect with one another, make memories to last a lifetime, and grow closer to Christ. What kind of traditions does your family celebrate?

Whether you’re just starting out or you already have set family traditions, this year, consider trying out some of the Catholic Christmas traditions and customs listed below. In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the Christmas season can last anywhere from to 16 to 22 days, depending on when the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (marking the end of the season) falls, offering plenty of opportunities to celebrate Christmas long after the stores have switched out their Christmas displays. (Related: How Long Is the Christmas Season?)

A few notes to consider: First, it is good to distinguish between popular customs and formal Church observances. A few Catholic Christmas traditions are obligatory; some are optional; and others are not formally recognized by the Church, but are cultural practices popular in predominantly Catholic places.

Second, don’t expect to try all of these ideas in one year. Sift through them and pick out a handful (or even just one) to try this year; in future years, you can try new traditions.

Most of these traditions focus on the religious celebration of Christmas, but toward the end of this article you’ll find some other non-religious (but fun!) family Christmas traditions to try.


Midnight Mass

The very word Christmas comes from the Old English words Crīstes mæss, or Christ-Mass. From ancient times, Mass has been at the heart of the celebration of Christ’s birth. Accordingly, Christmas is a holy day of obligation, on which the Church calls all Catholics to celebrate Mass.

Your parish might celebrate one of four different Masses, each with its own set of readings: the Vigil Mass (held Christmas Eve), Midnight Mass (the “Mass of the Angels”), Dawn Mass (the “Mass of the Shepherds”), and Christmas Day Mass (the “Mass of the Divine Word”). You will hear different readings and liturgical prayers at each of these Masses.

The classic Christmas reading from Luke 2:1-14 is heard at the Midnight Mass (which is often celebrated well before midnight). Midnight Mass is the most elaborate celebration of Christmas, and many parishes pull out all the stops for it. At some point in the life of your family, your kids should get to experience it. While it may be later and longer than a typical Mass, it is often less crowded. If you bring little ones, bring a blanket so they can lay down in the pew.

Many of the strategies that work for a regular Sunday Mass, including previewing the readings with your kids, will also help make your Christmas Mass a more pleasant and meaningful family experience. See Doing Mass with Kids: 25+ Strategies for a Better Experience.


Read or chant the announcement of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ from the Roman Martyrology

You can find this text, which is most appropriately sung or chanted on Christmas Eve, at the USCCB website. “The announcement of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord from the Roman Martyrology draws upon Sacred Scripture to declare in a formal way the birth of Christ,” the USCCB explains. “It begins with creation and relates the birth of the Lord to the major events and personages of sacred and secular history.”


Add figures to your manger and bless it

If you have left your manger set or nativity scene mostly empty during Advent (except for the animals, of course!), then you can make a big deal out of adding the angels, shepherds, Mary and Joseph, and other figures on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

You may want to add the baby Jesus overnight on Christmas Eve as a surprise for your children on Christmas morning.

You may also want to place the three kings someplace else in the house at a distance from the manger so that they can “journey” to the manger over the twelve days following Christmas, arriving at the manger on the Feast of Epiphany. (See below.)

If you haven’t already, bless your manger set or nativity scene using this blessing from Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers. Christmas Eve is the suggested time for blessing your manger.


Pray before the baby Jesus

“No one, whether shepherd or wise man, can approach God here below except by kneeling before the manger at Bethlehem and adoring him hidden in the weakness of a newborn child.” So says the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#563).

You can take that to heart by encouraging your kids to pray before the baby Jesus in the nativity scene at your church or at your home, either after Christmas Mass or right away on Christmas morning, before opening gifts. You can find a brief Prayer Before a Creche here, or encourage your kids to make up their own prayer.


Make your own nativity play

If your parish doesn’t sponsor a nativity play (or even if it does), make your own nativity play at home. This can be a big production (find ready-made scripts online) with costumes and props and so on, or it can be as simple as Mom and Dad (and older siblings) acting out the Christmas story extemporaneously. Young children can be given simple roles to play.

Whether it’s Oscar-worthy or spur-of-the-moment (it’s amazing what you can do with a few sheets and a blanket), re-enacting the Christmas story is a great way to teach kids the true meaning of Christmas. And it might just be a deeply moving experience for the adults involved, too.


Decorate and bless your Christmas tree

If you have held off on buying a Christmas tree (or kept it as an Advent tree), then decorate your Christmas tree on Christmas Eve as a sign and celebration of Christ’s arrival. (Take down your Jesse Tree ornaments first!) If you are just getting started with your family Christmas traditions, make your own homemade Christmas ornaments (see below for ideas).


Make and light a Christ candle

If your family has enjoyed lighting the Advent wreath, extend the practice by making a Christ candle. Purchase a large white candle, ideally one made for liturgical use (at least 51 percent bees’ wax), and decorate it with the chi rho (the first two letters in the Greek word for Christ) along with the year. Place it in the center of your Advent wreath and light it throughout the Christmas season as a reminder that Christ is the light of the world (John 1).


Celebrate the Festival of Lessons and Carols

The Festival of Lessons and Carols is a service of Scripture and song that originated at King’s College, Cambridge, in 1918. The service consists of nine Scripture lessons which recount the Fall, the promise of a Messiah, the Incarnation, and the Great Commission; each lesson is followed by a song that reflects on the lesson’s message, and a brief prayer. Today, the service is broadcast worldwide by the BBC on Christmas Eve, and churches around the world celebrate different versions.

Check to see whether the Festival of Lessons and Carols will be offered by churches in your area. Otherwise, you can use the simple version offered by the USCCB to conduct your own service, or catch it on the BBC World Service; you can find broadcast information at the King’s College website.


Do more works of mercy

The message of the Gospel and the call of the Church is unambiguous: fully celebrating Christmas means reaching out to the poor, the oppressed, and all those in need of our help. Model the true spirit of Christmas for your kids by seeking out opportunities to help others throughout the whole Christmas season.

You can download a family calendar for the Christmas season that contains many ideas for doing works of mercy. Some highlights:

  • Pray for Christians being persecuted around the world.
  • Give away things you do not need (and maybe some things that others might need more than you), and renew your commitment to Christian stewardship and simple living.
  • Consider year-end gifts to charitable organizations that help those in need; let your kids help choose a recipient. Better yet, pool your money as a family and decide to give it to a family or organization in your community.
  • Donate goods to your local food shelf, St. Vincent de Paul Society or other charity. Make it a family field trip.
  • Commit to at least one work of mercy as part of your family’s resolutions for the New Year.
  • Observe January as poverty awareness month by using the interactive resources at org.
  • Lobby on behalf of migrants and refugees; the first full week of January is observed as National Migration Week by the Church in the United States.
  • Arrange a group to sing Christmas carols at your local jail, hospital, or nursing home. (Reach out to the organization’s volunteer coordinator.)


Mark the feasts of the first martyrs

Right on the heels of Christmas, the Church gives us a trio of martyrs’ feasts. First comes the feast of the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen, on December 26. This is followed on December 27 by the Feast of St. John the Evangelist (another early Christian martyr), and then on December 28 we remember the Feast of the Holy Innocents (the infant-martyrs killed by King Herod as he sought to destroy the Christ child).

What are we supposed to take away from this juxtaposition? Perhaps it is a good reminder that Christmas is more than soft pastels, stars, a cute baby, and Hallmark sentiments. We need Christmas—that is, we need the saving Christ—because we live in a dark and violent world. These feasts also remind us that following Christ means forfeiting our lives in one way or another. Christ has only just arrived on the scene, and already we are called to follow him.

Be sure to note these feasts with your kids. You can find additional resources for celebrating at the USCCB Christmas website:

Feast of St. Stephen

Feast of the Holy Innocents


Celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family

On December 27, we celebrate the Feast of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family. Celebrate your family by making a very simple “family tree” with photos of each person in your family. Talk with younger children about what it means to be a family. Include the date of your wedding anniversary as the “birthday” of your family.

You may also want to think about making a family pilgrimage on the Jubilee of Families, which is also celebrated today (see below).


Celebrate Mary and world peace on January 1

January 1 is not only New Year’s Day, but the Octave Day of Christmas, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and the Church’s World Day of Peace.

Celebrate the Solemnity of Mary and the Octave of Christmas by attending Mass (it’s such an important day, Catholics are obliged to celebrate Mass). When you get home from Mass, incorporate a special Mary-themed treat into your New Year’s Day meal; you will find a whole list of ideas at Catholic Cuisine.

You can share the pope’s message for the World Day of Peace by downloading the full text of his message or a shorter summary from the USCCB World Day of Peace web page. Also consider praying a rosary for world peace.


Do a family “examen” of the year

On January 1, use the format of the Ignatian Daily Examen to do an “examen” of the life of your family in the past year. If praying the examen is too formal, go through your calendar month by month, talking about the biggest events. Or go through family photos month by month. As you share memories, talk about Highs and Lows.


Bless your home and household on Epiphany

It is traditional to bless your home and household on the Feast of the Epiphany, perhaps because of the Biblical reference to the three kings entering the home where the Holy Family was staying in order to worship the Christ child there. You can find an Epiphany blessing of the home in Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers (or at the USCCB website).

A more traditional form of the Epiphany blessing involves using blessed chalk to write the letters C, M, and B, plus the year, above the main entrance to the home (or above the door to each room in the house), like so: 20 + C + M + B + 16. The letters are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also represent the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, which means: “May Christ bless the house.” Of course, the + represents the cross. You can find a ritual for this blessing at the Order of Carmelites.


Send the magi on a journey through your house

If you have a manger set, bring out the three kings on Christmas Day—but instead of placing them at the manger right away, put them somewhere else in your house so that they can journey to the manger over the twelve days between Christmas Day and the traditional date for the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6).

You can have the three kings move to a different room or area of your house on each day. Let your kids search for them every morning; when they find them, say to your kids: “The wise men are searching for Jesus in ___ (the dining room, your bedroom, etc.). How can we show the magi that Jesus is present in this place?” Brainstorm examples of Christian behavior in the particular place, then close with a short prayer:

“O holy magi, help us to see Christ in this place, and make it holy in all we say and all we do here. Amen.”


Hold a procession of the magi

On the Feast of the Epiphany, read the Gospel account of the visit of the three wise men (see Matthew 2:1-12), then have your children march through the house holding the figures of the three kings and singing “We Three Kings.”


Eat King’s Cake

A popular Epiphany tradition in many cultures, the King’s Cake (or King Cake) is a sweet cake in which a small figure of the baby Jesus is hidden. Searching for the baby Jesus in the cake imitates the Magi’s search for the baby Jesus. You can find great recipes for King’s Cake, along with some cultural background, over at Catholic Cuisine.


Celebrate Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night is a largely forgotten traditional celebration held on the twelfth night of the Christmas season, January 6—the traditional date of Epiphany before the liturgical reforms of Vatican II.

Over at Catholic Cuisine, they have a complete and comprehensive plan for a Twelve Days of Christmas themed dinner feast that features twelve courses, including partridge in a pear tree pie. You can also find an extensive history, as well as some traditional ways of celebrating, at Fish Eaters.


Celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord marks the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.

It’s also the perfect time to remember your kids’ baptisms, and to talk about what that means: “Did you know you were baptized, too, just like Jesus?” Tell the story of your child’s baptism. What was the most memorable moment? Why did you ask to have your child baptized? What promises did you have to make? Pull out anything related to your kids’ baptism: a baptismal gown, candle, pictures, or video.

Using fabric markers, make a tablecloth celebrating baptism containing the baptismal dates of everyone in the family; bring it out for meals on the anniversary of each person’s baptism.


Wish people a merry Christmas

Model the Christmas spirit for your kids by wishing people a merry Christmas throughout the whole Christmas season.



Non-religious (but really great) Christmas traditions


Eat a special Christmas Eve dinner

Different families develop their own Christmas Eve meal traditions, but if you are looking for a traditional meal to latch onto and you happen to be of French descent, consider holding a réveillon, a long dinner full of sumptuous foods. If you are Italian, try the Feast of Seven Fishes, a meal featuring seven courses of seafood. Poles, meanwhile, celebrate a Wigiliameal.


Cut your own Christmas tree

“Cut your own” tree farms are proliferating; many offer other fun winter activities besides picking and cutting your own tree. If the weather is nice, you can make a day of it. You can find a Christmas tree farm near you at this website.


Make your own Christmas tree ornaments

If you’re just getting started with your family Christmas traditions, try making your own Christmas tree ornaments. If you have kept your tree as a super-simple Advent tree, then this might be a good activity for later in the day on Christmas Day.

There are so many great ideas for homemade ornaments online, we’re not going to attempt to provide a complete guide here. However, if you’re going to let your young children be involved (a great idea!) and if you care at all what your tree looks like, you’re going to want to choose simple decorations that are going to look pretty good no matter how your kids do with them. Some suggestions that caught our eye:

  • Classic or fancy paper chains. Google “fancy paper chain” for a cool twist on this classic childhood ornament. If you go classic, personalize your paper chain with words (Christmas greetings or Bible verses) or art from each family member.
  • Ribbon chains. Like a paper chain, but made from ribbons.
  • Natural ornaments. Go foraging outdoors for natural objects to make into Christmas ornaments (respecting natural environments and any applicable laws). Ideas for natural ornaments include pine cones (decorated or plain), shells, dried grasses braided into decorative ropes, stones (polished and hot-glued to string or hangers), dried flowers, sea glass, twigs fastened together to make stars and snowflakes, and so on.
  • Strings of fruit and popcorn. String cranberries, popcorn, and other dried fruits and nuts (dried orange wheels, shelled peanuts), then bring the strings outside for a tasty Christmas treat for the wild critters around your house.
  • Salt dough ornaments. Homemade salt dough is easy to make and fun to play with; when the dough hardens, you can paint it to make your own ornaments.
  • Paper snowflakes and other ornaments. For a twist, try making 3D paper stars and snowflakes.
  • Edible ornaments. Candy canes, gumdrops, and other hard candies look pretty strung on a tree.


Christmas Eve luminaries

In Spanish-speaking countries and parts of the southwestern United States, it is traditional to set out luminaries—candles set in paper bags weighted with sand—on Christmas Eve. It is said that the lights are meant to invite Christ, the light of the world, into the home. Probably the tradition is just as much about making a pretty and interesting light display in a season of darkness.

Hot Topics Speaker Series: Immigration And Islam

Immigration and Islam: Principles for Discernment

As Catholics, we know we are expected by the teachings of the Lord to love and offer hospitality to those in need. We are also called by our Lord to protect the innocent. Do these commands create an irresolvable tension when it comes to immigration and Islam? Listen to Dr. Troy Hinkel, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Mission for the Holy Family School of Faith offer principles of discernment for Catholics on this sensitive yet crucial issue.

Recorded live Friday, March 31st at Church of the Ascension.

For more info please contact

Sign up to get homily highlights and valuable reflection resources directly to your inbox!

Parents Resource Page

Parent Resources on Relationships, Love, Chastity and Sex





Chastity is an invitation to somethign real.  It’s a holistic vision to authentic love.



A Christian Author share’s her experience of talking to daughters.  Part I & II

A Parent’s Guide to Chastity Education by Bishop Samual Aquila



  • Raising Pure Teens by Jason Evert & Chris Stefanick
  • Purity 365 by Jason Evert
  • Pure Love by Jason Evert (booklet)
  • A Case for Chastity: The Way to Real Love and True Freedom for Catholic Teens by Heather Gallagher and Peter Vlahutin
  • Not Ready for Marriage, Not Ready for Sex: One Couple’s Return to Chastity by Chris Padgett
  • If you Really Loved Me: 100 Questions on Dating, Relationships and Sexual Purity by Jason and Crystalina Evert


From (title within the link)



  • com has numbers article/answers to questions about relationships, sex, purity, how far is too far, etc… A very valuable website.


  • com has many great articles on love, sex and chastity.


  • org has some resources (check on the right side of the front page)



Parenting for Purity: Audio CD go to lighthouse Catholic Media



Hot Topics Speaker Series: Homosexuality-Andrew Comisky

Our Parish Council has recommended this year that Ascension offers a series of presentations on various issues happening in society today.  We’ve called it the “Hot Topics Series”.

Below are a list of resources from our first night.


Andrew Comisky’s Presentation (Watch it here)

Other Resources

~ Bishop Barron Interview (among others topics, this interview covers                    homosexuality/gay marriage)

Recent YFF News

a place for you


Register for 2016-2017 Year
Boyhood Under Siege

Meg Meeker, M.D., mother and pediatrician said this about how boyhood is at risk today:

As parents, we know that boyhood has been changing-for the worse.  We remember when boys use to go trout fishing, sitting under a tree while daydreaming about the future, and now we fear that our boys are cutting themselves off from us with iPods, earbuds, and computer porn.  [As parents] we grimace as our boys are inundated with cheap, nasty dialogue and graphic images that reflect cheap, nasty values and an impoverished imagination….Outwardly we go about our work but inwardly we hold our breath.  Are our boys in trouble? If so, are they in more danger than past generations? Yes, and most definitely yes.  But unlike some psychologists, sociologists, and educators, I believe that the trouble hurting our boys stem from three major sources: lack of close relationships with men (particularly fathers), lack of religious education, and aggressive exposure to a toxic media that teaches boys that the keys to a great life are sex, sex, and a bit more sex – and a whole lot of money and fame…We must be willing to see that our boys need isn’t simply more prescriptions, more money, more activities.  What they need is us. You and me.  they need parents who are willing to take a good hard look at what their sons think and what they are doing.  They need fathers who will embrace their sons and watch them with the eyes of schooled hawks…The world has grown sad for our boys.  But the good news is: we can bring them back.  We can reinstitute some of the joy of boyhood for them, and we can ease their pressures (even the ones we think are beneficial for them, like earning good grades to get into an Ivy League school) by giving them the freedom to be boys: to simply enjoy pickup games of basketball in their neighborhoods, to find that save acreage of woods where they can hike and imagine, and to have that home library where classic adventure books await.                                                                                                                                                          To read more check out Meg Meeker’s book Boys Should Be Boys boys