Family juggles family, faith and demanding career

  • February 9, 2011
The CanningsTORONTO - The camera zooms in on new mom Lisa Canning who beams with enthusiasm as she talks about energy-efficient decor with Toronto TV host Marilyn Denis.

The 26-year-old interior decorator was one of the experts on CTV’s inaugural The Marilyn Denis Show last month.

Aside from running her own interior design business, she talks enthusiastically about how motherhood has helped her mature in her Catholic faith as she and her husband, Josh, raise their two children.

“When I became a mom for the first time, something shifted quick in me that I am completely responsible for the soul of this person. When I saw (my son) in my arms, I realized I have a huge responsibility,” she said.

Faith has been central in the Cannings’ marriage and parenthood. The Cannings are former student campus ministers at the Newman Centre at the University of Toronto. (Josh is now Newman’s chaplaincy co-ordinator.)

After graduating from Ryerson University’s School of Fashion, Lisa appeared on HGTV’s Marriage Under Construction which helped kick-start her design career. Since then, she has worked on Slice TV’s Beautiful People and MuchMusic’s Much 911.

But Lisa says her professional success hasn’t overshadowed her role as mother to 22-month-old John and four-month-old Evelyn. “We have to be holy as parents if we have any hope for our kids to be holy. That’s the crux of Catholic parenting. You are setting an example and forming their soul and getting them ready for heaven,” she said.

Parents can’t expect kids to be forgiving or virtuous without embracing these qualities too. And when Lisa teaches her son to share or take turns, it’s teaching him how “sacrifice can make us holy.”

In the Canning household, the day starts and ends with prayer to “instill a sense of gratitude” for God’s blessings, says Josh about their philosophy on parenting.

For this young couple, parenthood has presented a “learning curve” in their marriage where each has had to quickly adjust to their roles and has learned along the way, Josh said.

So what’s helped the Cannings grow in their parenting roles? They say seeking out spiritual direction individually has helped anchor them in their faith.

“Hopefully when we fall short, they all see a humble heart,” Josh explained. “Parenthood isn’t easy, but it’s the best thing that could ever happen to you.”

And the Cannings hope their lessons will stick once their children are grown.

A recent Sunday suggests their techniques are working. Before the family left the church, John started blowing kisses to the tabernacle and the statue of Mary. Josh says these gestures hopefully reflect his and Lisa’s goal of teaching their children about the “reality of God” in their lives.

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