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May 10
National Week for Life and Family Spotlight – The Damianopoulos Family
National Week for Life and Family runs from May 12 to 19. The Damianopoulos family – Rich and Pam, alongside their four children ages 8, 5, 4 and 2 – reflect below on what raising a family in the faith looks like in the Archdiocese of Toronto.

1. What does a typical day look like for the Damianopoulos family?
 
Very full! Hectic mornings getting ready for work/school and busy evenings with dinner, homework and bedtime routines. Despite the busyness, we try to keep focused through prayer. We have set prayers like grace before meals and morning prayer. But we also have spontaneous prayers during the day like “God help me with this child” during a showdown with a toddler or encouraging an older child to pray to St. Anthony when something is lost. We always end the day with family nighttime prayers. Everyone gets a chance to give thanks for a blessing, pray for someone or ask for God’s help.  We also light a candle to help keep the kids focused and remind us that Jesus is present (although it can be challenging to stop our youngest from blowing it out and singing “Happy Birthday”).


 
2. This year’s theme for the National Week forLife and Family is “Listening to the Gospel as a Family.” How do you see that play out in your family?
 
We hear the Gospel at Mass and also when reading children’s Bible stories together. We then try to incorporate Gospel values into everyday situations. For example, a gentle reminder that the Golden Rule is “do to others as you would have them do to you” and not “do to others as they have done to you” when faced with the “he/she did it first!” explanation.
 
3. What does your family do to witness living out the Gospel outside of your home? What is your involvement in your parish or the broader community?
 
Rich is a lector at Mass and also ran for Catholic school board trustee. We participate in food drives/fundraising at school and at the parish. We encourage our children to live out the faith. One mom recently told us that, given the choice of all the girls in her class, her daughter would choose our eldest as her best friend because her child knew our daughter would stand up for her when in trouble. Another example is when eating out, it’s often our four-year-old son who reminds us to say grace. 
 
4. What do you do to encourage your kids to make faith and a relationship with Jesus a priority in their lives as children?
 
We liken it to any important relationship they have here on Earth (friends, grandparents, etc.) and how the more time you spend with the person, the closer you get. We explain that prayer is spending time with Jesus. We also make accessible faith-based books, music and videos. It’s so sweet to see one of our little ones immersed in a baby’s Bible or one of our older ones dancing around the house singing the lyrics from a Catholic YouTube video.
 
5. What is the greatest joy and the greatest challenge of Catholic family life?
 
The greatest joy: Seeing the faith take root in our kids. One of the cutest things is seeing our two-year-old say “Shesus” and blow kisses to anything that resembles a cross.
 
Greatest challenge: Living and teaching the faith in a world that is hostile towards it. One mom “jokingly” complained to us that she now has to take her daughters to church because they heard that our daughters go, so they want to go, too.
 
6. What is your advice for other families looking to incorporate faith into family life?
 
Attend Mass as a family – it makes a difference when everyone is on board. Make it relevant by incorporating it into everyday life – say a quick prayer for safety before leaving on a road trip. Pray as a family and involve the kids – invite one of the kids to lead grace before meals. 

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