Thanking Jesus For The Gift Of His Church
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15)
God’s greatest gift to creation is the human family. There are many ways to define family, and the dynamics in each provide a way to measure the health of society. The observation of families who are raising their children Catholic in the present culture is uniquely beautiful. The grace of God nourishes a marriage and family through the incredible gift of the Sacraments. A child witnesses holiness and faithfulness through the love shared by the members of the Body of Christ. When people view family as a representative of the Catholic faith, what identifying marks would they see?
Today, Catholic families are struggling for answers from within the Church, and our hope is in the Lord! I recently attended an event at Bishop Bruté Seminary in Indianapolis, and the witness of the young men discerning the ministry of priesthood was reassuring. Equally inspiring was the presence of good and holy priests who help seminarians with their formation, and a lay community who supports them with prayer. The best foundation for building up the ministry of the priesthood lies within a faithful vocation to marriage.
Alan and Julie (Verkamp) Lagree were married on Aug. 1, 2009. Their journey of faith is a great witness to the Domestic Church. Alan and Julie first met during a Teens Encounter Christ retreat. Their shared passion for the faith continued to grow through John Bosco Youth Ministry, directed by Steve Dabrowski, who is the current Diocesan Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
I met Julie in 2008, when she was hired as the Youth Minister for the Vincennes Catholic Community. I was inspired by her efforts to bring young people into a relationship with Christ. Alan is a Purdue University graduate and works at N.S.W.C at Crane, Ind. His surprise marriage proposal to Julie in July 2008 involved a private Mass, which was planned with the help of Fr. Patrick Baikauskas, Pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in West Lafayette, Ind., where Alan attended Mass as a college student.
In June 2015, complete trust in God provided tremendous comfort during the tragic loss of their second child, a daughter whom they lovingly call, Saint Tess Elizabeth. Tess was 19 months old when her organs shut down from an e coli infection. The strength of this family in the midst of this loss is a reminder of what God can do. Unwavering in their faith, Alan and Julie continue to share their gifts and talents within their faith community in Loogootee, Indiana at St. John Parish.
The Lagrees want their children – Isaac, 6, Jake, 2, and Kate, 5 months – to be excited about the faith; they feel it is important to rely on a larger faith community to help raise their children by prioritizing God in various ways.
“We hope that with our family, friendships and strong role models throughout the diocese, our children will be able to grow strong in their convictions,” Alan said. Their children are homeschooled and participate in the John Paul the Great Homeschool Co-op in Dubois County. The group of 15 families with 55 children meets for specialty classes, monthly field trips and a First Friday event with Eucharistic Adoration, a meal, and games. These families are building up the Kingdom of God! Julie also writes an inspiring blog at Sainttess.wordpress.com.
Be prepared to give reason for your hope in the Lord! Your witness of faith may help encourage others. Amen!