Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday

Today I am thinking about moving.

Phil and I met at Franciscan University of Steubenville, and the Catholic community there is just AMAZING!! We live in the Northeast now because Phil went to Providence College to get his masters, and my whole family lives around here. The Catholic community is virtually non-existent here among people our age.

When we go to Mass, there are hardly any young children at Mass, and seeing families with more than a couple kids is a rarity. We do not fit the mold at all, and we often wonder what it would be like to move to a family-friendly, NFP accepting, Catholic environment. We would LOVE to raise our babies in a culture like that and think it would be wonderful for their souls and developing minds. We imagine ourselves being so happy, hanging out with our new found friends who also have a bunch of kids, and joining a thriving Parish with an active social life.

But then, what would I do without my family around? There is such security knowing that if I am in a bind, I have wonderful sisters and brothers who could watch the kids, or pick someone up at school. And it's not just the fact that they are my family, they are my friends too! I love having "play dates" with my sisters so that our children can play with their cousins...something we never had as little kids.

Also, are we supposed to stay and "fight the good fight"? Meaning, perhaps we are supposed to stay in a not-so-Catholic area and try to change it as much as we can? Could it be that WE are supposed to help turn our Parish into the thriving Catholic culture that we crave? Maybe we are being called to stay in this area for a reason?? It would be so easy to run away and live in a Steubenville-like place, but is that living in a bubble? Or is protecting our children from the faithlessness of the real world more important? So many questions, so few answers :)

In the meantime, we are exploring our options, and praying that the right decision will fall in our laps.


  1. Hi Colleen, thanks for visiting my blog! As you said, we DO have a lot in common, I was an accountant in my former life. As someone raising four kids with no family close by (3-1/2 hours is the nearest) it is really difficult at times; we are however, blessed with wonderful neighbors who have been able to help when needed, and hubby works from home 3 out of 5 days so that helps a lot. We also vacation every summer with family which I love! Unless something life changing happens, we're probably here for the duration, but it somehow all works out.

  2. Hi Colleen,

    You probably already know what my answer would be because we have moved out of state recently and "moved" from "regular" schooling to homeschooling. These ideas brought criticism from a handful of people, but in the end, most people were envious that we had taken the leap. Both decisions brought boundless blessings but required dying to self and our notion of comfort. For me, it was a bit easier because I lived a couple of hours' drive from family as soon as I got married. Catholic communites on the periphery of Steubenville are not "bubbles" from reality,; they ARE reality and the rest of the world is a bubble, just like the saints are a reality. Of course, there are pockets of Steubenville in other places, just as we have found in Dover, but those pockets did not exist where we lived before. It's nice to dream that we and our children will be the ones to change society by staying where we are; however, I have found that some are called to stay and others are called to go to where the Lord is calling to better equip the family for battle. Enter into the silence, pray, hear His voice and do whatever He tells you, and above all, "Be not afraid."

  3. Hi Colleen,
    I have a few thoughts. First of all, is your family support also good Christian support? My family lives 400 miles away and my husband's parents are in Florida (We are in Michigan). It's tough being so far from home, BUT we belong to an awesome ecumenical prayer community that is like family to us. I sometimes long to move closer to my family, but I know the spiritual support would be sorely lacking.

    You also mentioned trying to build up fellowship where you are now. You could give it a "test run" - organize some young family events through your Church and neighboring Churches and see if you get any response. Plan a picnic or a day at the beach, inviting any young families from surrounding parishes. Share your vision with any young families who will listen. And as you go, ask the Lord to lead you, bless your efforts and open doors for you.

    It's a sad reality in the Catholic Church that we are so often lacking the sense of community and family that we should have. But it's people like you and your husband who have experienced the power of life at Steubenville (I've heard it's awesome, but I haven't been there. . .yet) who may be called to bring the vision elsewhere.

    God bless you as you seek Him and discern His direction.

  4. First, I would not presume to know what's best for your family but I'll toss in my two cents.

    We know a couple who moved to our city from Illinois, away from family, because of the Catholic community and pro-life health care available here. Clearly, I've taken this for granted. We have an abundance of pro-life, Catholic, NFP-only providers in our city. We have great parishes and there are high numbers of practicing Catholics here.

    I don't think that Catholic communities exist in bubbles. I agree with Irene--this is reality for us. It is difficult for me to imagine a parish without young families or children. All of the parishes in our city are blessed with this. I think that we need this community to thrive. We need to be surrounded by other families who are living the way we live and strive for the same ideals.

    Also, it is easy to make friends here because of my Catholicism. I just joined a bible study that consists of 23 women who are our age (late 20s or early 30s). They've been a huge blessing in my life. Our kids go to school together, many of us are in the same parish, and everyone is open to life. In fact, among the 23 of us, there are 72 children (including those soon-to-be born).

    However, I am lucky to have family close by within this community. My father and his wife live an hour away, my mom lives in our city, and 5 of my 8 siblings. My husband's parents and 3 of his 4 siblings also live in the city.

    I don't know what I would do if I were you because we are already blessed with all of this (and every day, I'm grateful).

    I'm glad that this is my reality. I think that if I were part of a parish similar to what you're describing that it would be disheartening for me.

    Seriousness aside, move here. We'd be happy to have you. Decent homes are selling here (in our parish) for $130-160K. We have a large Catholic high school and at least eleven Catholic elementary schools (K-8) in the city.

    I can't tell how seriously you are contemplating this, but good luck! God will lead you in the right direction! :)

  5. Ok, obviously you know my opinion. I'd want you guys to stay because I feel like we've become such good friends, but being good friends I'd also want you to be happy and do what is best for your children.

    As for the catholic community being non existent here-I think that we're making a lot of progress. We've met a lot of people lately and I think as things keep going we'll meet more. Persoanlly I think that it's more challenging being in our situation-you really have to seek out oportunities for holiness and growth, where as being in a 'bubble' more things are 'handed' to you-Is there more merit in one than that other? I dunno. I think that you and Phil are doing a great job with your children, and we really do try to follow your example in a lot of things that you do-who knows maybe we'll end up moving too---I wish, I'd go back to Dallas in a heartbeat if I had family there. I miss it A LOT.

    I also had fun last night, and I don't think that it's lame at all-unless you were refering to hanging out with me...

    ok, done rambling for now...

  6. Ok, so I'm a little delayed in leaving this, but maybe that's good because you'll probably be the only one who will read my response.

    As for the parish, you know I also can be frustrated at times with the lack of charity, etc... but we are making progress. I know we have a long way to go but has Phil ever considered joining the Knights to get to know the men in the parish better? There are some good men there. And have you ever considered starting a mothers group that could meet after the Mass so that other mothers would be able to benifit from your witness and you wouldn't have to "scoot" out right after the Mass? You could pray a rosary and chat or have a bible study or just have a children's play area and have support. Someone needs to begin it... and you're sociable enough to invite people to your home, sometimes effort needs to be made to realize the parish as your home.

    I always hoped you would become involved with the youth (which would inevitable lead to babysitting) when so many of them have never experienced a beautiful young family like yours, especially in this area. If you looked at it as "mission territory" which it is, you might see it with new eyes. One of the girls from the youth group told me before how she saw you and Phil walking up to communion with the kids and got all welled up and started crying because she wanted something like that someday. If you go and everyone goes... who will witness to them? (The prostitutes? The drug addicts? The broken families?)

    If you want to see what they are doing check this out:
    I was edified by our young people coming to pray for hours at an abortion clinic this past Saturday (one 15 year old even woke up at 4:30 in the morning to get there for 6am and stayed until 3pm when she reluctantly had to leave) This gives me hope when I'm frustrated, and this is a public school kid with a Mom who's an accountant and a Dad who's a contracter and is "in the thick of it" all the time.

    I do want what's best for your family but ask you (you, Colleen Martin) to consider investing yourself more in the parish and sharing your gifts that you recieved at Steubenville with the rest of us.

    As for the kids, you're doing a fantastic job!

    If you decided to move, I would have to come visit you and would understand because I know how the houses are around here, but just keep praying.

    Can we walk on it?


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