August 13, 2009 // Local

Passing the torch of faith: It’s a family thing

Many families hold family reunions in the approaching weeks of summer. We have a “sort of joke” at Today’s Catholic that we work in a Catholic bubble, that we can meet any Catholic person in the Fort Wayne area and quickly discover a common friend or relative.

We owe a debt of thanks to our sisters, brothers and priests and laypeople who taught and guided our Catholic schools for so many years. Their efforts have led to prosperity of my generation, encouraged us to go to college and live the American dream. And this has made our Catholic community an environment in which we desire to raise our children — passing the torch of faith.

This has become especially evident to me at my parish, St. Aloysius, as we prepare for our upcoming 150th anniversary on June 21, which is Father’s Day, but also the feast of St. Aloysius. Being a music director, I have been working with my pastor, Father Dominique Carboneau, and Brian MacMichael, director of the Office of Worship, as we plan our Mass in which Bishop John M. D’Arcy will dedicate our new altar.

St. Aloysius is a parish rich in multi-generations, but also growing with new families. Those of us with many generations in the parish, plan to share family trees at the Sesquicentennial celebration.

St. Aloysius has been my parish my whole life. My brother and sisters attended St. Aloysius School, as did my mom and her three brothers, my maternal grandmother and her siblings. We believe my great-grandmother attended the school.

In the historical research collected by parishioner Connor Loesch, we discovered an old map that will be used in the history book. The map details the landowners of Pleasant Township, where St. Aloysius is located, in the late 1800s. I was able to trace down where my Grandma Hoffman’s family, the Landstoffers, resided in the St. Aloysius community.

We all have a family faith history. On my mother’s side of the family that history includes parishes like St. Aloysius, Yoder, and St. Joseph-Hessen Cassel, where my Grandpa Hoffman grew up. On the Johnson side, parishes like St. Mary and Ss. Peter and Paul in Huntington nurtured my dad and grandparents’ faith.

Most of us who are cradle Catholics, tend to take our faith history for granted; but think of the sacrifices my mom and dad made to give us a Catholic education. I think about my Hoffman grandparents who raised their children through the Great Depression and insisted on a Catholic education despite the costs and sacrifice. In my home, we have religious photos, that once hung on my Grandma Hoffman’s walls, and that have been passed through the generations.

A few years ago, after my dad passed away, we were going through his momentos. I came across a cigar box full of old rosaries, religious medals, etc. It gave me a sense of my Johnson grandparents’ faith and how it was passed to my dad. One treasure I found was a Holy Name Society emblem from St. Mary Church, Huntington. I don’t know if it belonged to my dad or my grandpa. But it once again resonated my Catholic past and ties with that parish.

So as we celebrate our parish histories and family reunions this summer, let’s all appreciate the challenges generations before us faced to pass along the torch of faith. And let us pray for our loved ones and their eternal rest.

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