Seeking Christ's heart

Column: Use this summer to grow closer as a family — and to the Lord

Deacon Dana Nearmyer is the lead consultant for the archdiocesan office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.

Deacon Dana Nearmyer is the lead consultant for the archdiocesan office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.

by Deacon Dana Nearmyer

Summer can be a time of great adventure and excitement.

Families get opportunities to draw nearer to each other. What is your summer mission statement? Vacations, day trips, pool time, trips to the lake, no school and long sunny days are all ways for families to get closer. If our summer mission statement has spiritual adventures built in it as well, our families can grow nearer to each other and Christ.

Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, uses the Spanish word, “cercania” to describe Mary’s action in the visitation toward Elizabeth as creating “nearness”; we are called to shorten the distance between each other. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that we as parents and grandparents are primary teachers of the faith. Pope Francis says that when our lives are closer to each other, we are more likely to “catch” or pass on the faith.

I was very close to both sets of my grandparents. I wrote this poem a couple of days after my Grandma Nearmyer died.

Amethyst Morning

4:11 a.m. Grandma stopped breathing;

Grandpa’s purple trembling hands could not help.

11º and all I can remember is:

Tree climbing,


Downtown shopping at Woolworths,

Cokes from Sonic,

Lightning bugs in fruit jars,

And Kool-Aid days now a memory.

I felt like those great adventures were all in the past.

But with the help of Jesus, we can facilitate new great adventures for ourselves and the next generation. Family Camp is offered through Camp Tekakwitha. Family Camp is full of faith and adventures for families.

But you do not need to go farther than your own backyard to climb trees and catch lightning bugs. Share adventures as a family. Go to Mass in interesting parishes on vacation. My son Max, who recently celebrated his first Communion, is helping to plan out these adventures for our family. Google the churches of your travel destinations; integrate Mass into the journey and pass on the faith. Create memories and family traditions that close the distance.

Have a summer planning meeting. Ask your family members what their favorite parts of summer are, so you can plan to make this summer full of lasting memories. If you go to the pool each day, consider reading a saint story together each day before swimming. Or maybe pray for the people that you care about or all of the kids who won’t eat today, much less get to go swimming.

Over the next year, the youth ministry page — on — is launching a large section to support parents. Send us your family adventure photos, traditions and tips for creating faithfilled, fun families at: youth@ Your family is precious to God. Celebrate your family. The clock is ticking.

About the author

Deacon Dana Nearmyer

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