The Francis family from Irvine graces the cover of the June 24 issue of OC Catholic. Their story is both sweet and inspiring. It’s a love story on many levels. Love for each other, evidenced by their four beautiful children. Love for God, as explained in our cover story by wife and mother Elaina Francis. And a newfound love for the Catholic faith as Elaina returns, this time with her family, to the Church.
In front of family and friends the couple had their marriage blessed last month at St. John Neumann in Irvine. On the same occasion they had all four children baptized. In a very special moment their oldest son Otis stood on the altar and read the first reading for the service. Perfectly.
As I watched from my pew the exchange of vows, followed by the four baptisms, I couldn’t help but smile. The Francis children now have the foundation on which to grow in their faith–something that so many others their age are missing out on.
Today’s young people, ages 3 to 18, have been called the “unchurched” generation. According to the Barna Group, a research organization that focuses on faith issues, today an unprecedented 35 percent of young people under age 18 claim to be agnostic, atheist or unaffiliated with any religion. This, in a day and age when depression, anxiety and suicide rates among this age group are on the rise.
So why don’t the parents of this “unchurched” generation, many of whom express a sense of helplessness when it comes to protecting their children in today’s world, make the connection?
As parents, we do everything we can to help our kids grow physically. We feed them well. We make sure that they get their vaccinations and have regular checkups. We nurture their intellect by reading to them, helping them with homework and even paying tutors to help them make the grade. But what about their souls?
And that excuse, the one that goes something like: “I’m waiting until they grow up so they can decide what religion they want to practice,” I don’t subscribe to that. It’s like saying, “I’m waiting until they grow up so they can decide what vegetable they want to eat.” Just as their bodies need nourishment, so too, does their spirituality.
The Francis family, whose journey has led them back to the Catholic Church, is an inspiring one. Elaina and her husband Kedric are an example of faith to their children. Their children will be able to draw on their own faith to better navigate this world and, hopefully, at the end of their own life journeys, earn their way into the next.