Column: Nurture your child, both inside and out

Seeking Christ's heart
Deacon Dana Nearmyer is the lead consultant for the archdiocesan office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.

 

Over 5000 kids from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas were in formal Catholic formation over the summer.

Camp Tekakwitha, vacation Bible school, Prayer in Action, ReachKCK, Teens Encounter Christ, Totus Tuus, Life Teen Leadership Conference, parish youth ministry, rural youth experiences and Steubenville Conferences are some of the powerful places that our young people experienced deeper closeness to Jesus.

In November, our office will lead nearly 600 teens to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis. We will join 23,000 teens from across the nation to celebrate our faith through praise and worship.

We will be challenged to talk to God and — even more importantly — to keenly listen to his ever-present voice. Mass will be celebrated by cardinals, bishops and 400 priests. Additionally, 200 deacons and hundreds of Sisters and Brothers will be vibrantly singing side by side with teens and chaperones.

Each of these very moving and powerful experiences has one thing in common. Everyone goes home at the end.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the home the “domestic church.” Parents, in the baptismal vows that they took for each of their baptized kids, promised to keep the flame of faith burning brightly in their children.

I realize that this is not easy. Our office wants to support parents in this critical role. Spiritual formation in the home is the biggest influence on a person’s spirituality. Kids desperately want us to listen them. They deeply desire for us to know and appreciate their often unnoticed interior life.

Their external activities, expectations and accomplishments are often center stage. Many times, this leads to a profound hollowness that many young people perceive as abandonment and can lead to depression and despair.

Do not get me wrong. The homework, practices, rehearsals, the programs and other kid-based activities leave us little time or energy to foster and know much about our child’s interior life. Please read Chap Clark’s book “Hurt 2.0” to better understand how to combat what he has termed “the culture of abandonment.”

We are exploring how parents can participate in the interior life of children and teens by being “curators of wonder and imagination.”

Parents are called to nurture and inspire their children. Our office is guiding parents, youth ministers and catechists on how to have kids treasure their faith.

We have many tips on how to get your family to listen to each other about significant things on both our Pinterest page — “Archdiocese of KCK Parents” — and parent page online at: www.archkck.org/Ecat Parenting. Click the “parenting” tab on the youth office Web page to access both the Pinterest link and the “parenting” page.

The externals matter, but the interior life matters eternally more.

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