First-time mom Racquel Sevilla and her son Paco. The two took part in the Raising Faith-filled Kids group at Toronto’s Newman Centre. Photo by Gadjo Sevilla
  • June 6, 2013

TORONTO - In Toronto, it’s easy to find classes for first-time parents aimed at raising happy and healthy children.

“However, finding one with a faith focus was a challenge,” said new mom Racquel Sevilla.

To meet this need, Sevilla and fellow new parent Esther Eiling contacted Fr. Chris Cauchi, pastor at the Newman Centre on the University of Toronto campus, about launching a Raising Faith- Filled Kids discussion group. Using the book of the same name by Tom McGrath as a guide, the 12-member group met weekly for six weeks before wrapping up at the end of May.

“Prior to having kids, my friends and I used to have discussion groups as a format to grow in our faith,” said Sevilla. “We knew the format was effective in deepening our faith and building community.”

During the meeting, parents were invited to bring their babies with them.

Some of the topics discussed included how new parents can communicate the faith with their sons and daughters and then the practical question of how to do that, said Cauchi. They also focused on the virtues of parenting such as patience, courage, hope and forgiveness.

Faith needs to be woven into the fabric of everyday life, said Sevilla.

“We reflected on the impact our families have had in shaping our spiritual heritage and providing role models,” she said. “From there have sprung some of the spiritual practices that are already part of our own lives such as daily prayer as a family, going to Mass and Lenten traditions.”

Sevilla said she learned about many practices from other parents that she and her husband — who was also part of the discussion group — plan on incorporating into their son Paco’s life, such as celebrating baptismal anniversaries and using them to revisit their baptismal wishes for him.

For Eiling, the group helped her make time to pause and reflect on how to integrate her faith into raising her daughter, Filippa.

“When you go through a big life-changing event like having a baby it’s even more important to incorporate your faith in daily life and share different issues with other new moms and dads,” said Eiling.

Cauchi said it was a great experience to see the parents ministering to each other.

Looking forward, he hopes to continue the group in some shape or form.

“Not necessarily in the same format of having that group discussion but to keep that relationship of parents going to continue to support them so that they know they’re not alone in this,” he said. “Here are parents who are taking seriously their call to raise their children in the practise of the faith so to affirm that, to encourage them and have them know they always have a home here.”

(Santilli is a freelance writer in Toronto.)

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