April 15, 2020 // Local

Catechetical responsibilities increase for parents because of pandemic

Updated April 20, 2020, to correct Sophia’s maiden name.

For many families, the concept of a domestic church has taken on new relevance these past few weeks as they adjust and navigate their way through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Part three of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues.” (2223)

The Acierto family has embraced this role from the very beginning of their life together. Jonathon Acierto and Sophia (Hubley) grew up in the Fort Wayne area. They met in 2004 at a young adult retreat in Syracuse. The couple married in 2008 and, at first, attended the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

“As our young family grew, we felt it was important to become members of our neighborhood parish, so we joined St. John the Baptist in Fort Wayne in 2015, explained Sophia. “As parents, we believe that it is important to be grounded in our faith so that we may give our children a good example as to what it is to be Catholic.”

Photos by Jonathon Acierto
Sophia Acierto helps her son Peter make a card during their religious education time at home this month. Because of the stay-at-home order and the suspension of religious education classes at parishes, parents’ catechetical efforts have become more extensive.

The Aciertos have three children: Cecilia, age 10, Peter, age 7, and Maximilian, age 4. “As primary catechists of our children’s faith formation we try and embrace our role through regular Mass attendance, use of regular confession as a family and daily prayer,” shared Sophia. “We teach our Catholic faith to our children by surrounding our home inside and out with sacred images of Jesus, Mary and the saints. We have plenty of Catholic books in our home and we use the sacramentals of the church by wearing the brown scapular and the Miraculous Medal to help the children to learn and grow in their faith.”

The Aciertos are now parishioners of St. Thomas the Apostle in Elkhart. Jonathon is an engineering manager and a job relocation brought him to the Elkhart area in 2018. Sophia homeschools the children, so that part of the daily routine was already in place.

“We’ve definitely been thrown off our family routine with this COVID-19. Jonathon has been placed on furlough, and our activities outside our home have greatly changed,” stated Sophia. “It has been challenging for us as a family to keep our focus as we participate in Mass at home. We have set up some sturdy chairs in our den and I placed a sand sensory table in front of the television to keep the younger children from wandering around while we try to focus on Mass with Father Jason (Freiburger).”

The children are part of the religious education program at St. Thomas. Peter is preparing for his first holy Communion.

“When we attended his first-reconciliation service, Peter was so nervous all he was focused on was making his confession. As the catechists began to explain what was about to take place, and Father Jason entered the confessional, Peter slipped out the side pew and was the first one. The catechists had a puzzling look on their faces as they wondered why the light was on already,” laughed Sophia.

“When I had to tell Peter his first holy Communion wouldn’t take place on April 26, he got teary-eyed because his birthday is on the 27th.”

Peter expressed to his mother one evening during prayer time that he was going to work for God. “I asked him how he was going to do that and he promptly answered, ‘I’m going to be a priest!’”

“Each one of our children has a servant heart,” continued Sophia “Cecilia learned about the spiritual adoption of the unborn, and during our bedtime prayers, she memorized the prayer for the unborn and always reminds us that we need to pray it.”

Peter plays the “Little Saints Adventures” on an iPad.

The Aciertos have found many resources to aid them in their responsibility of teaching the Catholic faith to their children. “The children like to watch the video series ‘Holy Heroes’ and YouTube channels for Catholic kids, and we use the resources sent to us by our director of religious education.”

Sophia’s advice to parents who are navigating through this time of change and uncertainty is to be patient with themselves and with their children. “Continue to ask the Holy Spirit to help you and to guide your family in practicing your faith together,” she concluded.

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