Thank you-


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Thank you to TERESA TOMEO of Ave Maria Radio’s “Catholic Connection” for having me on as a guest this morning to talk about being “big hearted” and about my book BIG HEARTED: Amazing Stories for Everyday Families. She is so good at what she does and made me feel right at home. 



Update on Situation in Venezuela- and what YOU can do-


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The media silence in the United States about the situation in Venezuela is deafening- I was watching CBS News this morning and heard lots of talk about the Oscars and even recreational use of marijuana, but I didn’t hear anything about Venezuela and how its government is seriously oppressing its people! The government is responsible for murder and torture and news reporters don’t report it?  I am hoping I missed it! Even the roundup of what is going on in the world, with a world map for viewers, did not include anything about Venezuela. I can’t figure out if this is intentional or not-

I suspect a lot of people don’t want to touch the topic of the serious human rights abuses because of the political implications- left leaning politicians probably don’t want to shed light on how socialism/ communism hurts people, and how government controlled society FAILS. Right leaning politicians probably don’t like the idea of the United States getting involved in something that may lead to people requesting easier immigration laws or involvement in foreign affairs not directly related to us, or they may not like a particular politician who has spoken out against the atrocities occurring in Venezuela- The fact is, this is a human rights violation and needs to be addressed regardless of one’s political affiliation! The politics of it can be sorted out later- right now these people are being murdered and oppressed by their own government and the world needs to know!

Catholics, indeed all Christians, must rise above politics to support what is RIGHT, not wait to comment until something fits neatly into a political box. Venezuelan families are suffering at the hand of a brutal oppressive government. The ‘demands’ of the people are simply peace and freedom, and to be left alone from the government’s repression of their rights. We must not let leaders of our political affiliations tell us how to react to this gross violation. We must be compassionate and truthful. How can we not speak out when people are being shot in the head, detained and tortured for holding signs?

Here is an updated video about the situation- Please view and share:

What can you do?

1. PRAY 

Prayer is powerful.

Again [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.” (Matthew 18:19)

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

If then, my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land…” (2 Chronicles, 7:14)

“I can do all things in Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” (James 5:16)

Catholics, praying the rosary is powerful. Other Christians, please join us, or pray in any other way you see fit.

2. Share Information With Your Family and Friends

Link to this blog, send the link to the videos here, discuss what is going on in Venezuela at the dinner table, at mother’s groups, after Mass, with your sister, brother, parents, friends.

3. Ask Your Senator to Make a Statement About / Address the Venezuelan Crisis

You can find your senator by zip code HERE.


Dear Senator X,

As you surely must be aware, a crisis has emerged in our Latin American neighbor country Venezuela. The oppressive, socialist Venezuelan government has turned against its people with violence against their peaceful demonstrations for peace, security and safety.  Below are some links that substantiate this fact.

Please address this issue with your colleagues and make a public statement opposing the atrocities of the Venezuelan government against its people. I wait for your response to this very important issue. 

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Your Name

4. Write to the major U.S. News Outlets and ask WHY they are not covering the gross oppression occurring just south of our country

Contact NBC News here

Contact ABC News here

Contact CBS News here

A few simple sentences asking for coverage of the event is sufficient. It only takes a few minutes, and could be done prior to your quilting group, homeschool meeting, dinner with friends, etc. This is so easy you can even do it while waiting at the doctor’s office or library on your cell phone!

5. Stay up to date on Twitter by following the following hashtags: #PrayForVenezuela, #SOSVenezuela, #VenezuelaPeaceful #Venezuela  If you follow these hashtags you will often see photos posted by Venezuelans of what is happening to them at that moment- Most of these personal posts are in Spanish, but Twitter has and you can use the ‘translate’ function. Click ‘translate’ in the upper left hand corner when prompted.

Stay up to date on Facebook by ‘liking’ these pages:

Praying for Venezuela  (my page)

Pray for Venezuela (It is my understanding that this page is posted by Ruben Blades a popular Panamanian recording artist and politician –It is a Spanish page- see below about translating) Allegedly, this page was actually responded to by Venezuelan president Maduro. Read the ‘notes’ section for more on that-

SOS Venezuela This page gets posts from those who run the SOS Venezuela website. (The website where information is shared and images are shared is here)

Some of these Facebook pages are in Spanish, but Facebook offers a ‘translate’ option when the page loads. Again, just like Twitter, you can choose the option of reading in English by clicking on ‘Translate’ on the upper left hand corner of your screen.

6. Write Letters to the Editor

Here is a list of and addresses for major news publications in the United States.

Sample letters to the editor would include information that the Venezuelan government is oppressing its people and the United States media is virtually ignoring it. Letters written could include any particular viewpoint, from pointing out the shortages and government control of all necessities, to the police shooting its own citizens to anything highlighted in news coming out from Venezuela. The point of the letter is to bring awareness and ask why there is no sustained and serious national media attention on this serious human rights issue. 

Thank you for caring about our South American neighbors. God bless you!!!

Photo from the Reality Venezuela's postPeaceful protestors in Caracas yesterday. Courtesy of ‘La Realidad en Venezuela’ Facebook page. 

UPDATE: New video from A. Nash, student whose first video on the situation in Venezuela went viral in a matter of days. This one addresses the updated situation and what people can do to help:

(Warning: Some sounds and images are disturbing. Do not view with young children.)

You may also be interested in:

Why You Should Use Social Media To Spread the Word of Venezuelan Protests

-Top Three Reasons American Media Needs to Pay Attention to Venezuela (short video with interviews actually in Venezuela, comparing what’s on television there that the government is broadcasting and what is actually happening outside)  Mariana Atencio

This blog by “Daniel”, a pseudonym for a Venezuelan citizen who writes extensively about pro-democracy in a post Chavez Venezuela. For safety purposes (government is not appreciative of his viewpoint against Chavez ) he does not give his real name.  The perspective is decidedly ‘insider’. I do not endorse or disapprove of any posts- I simply offer the blog as a real life view of one who lives through the Maduro regime.

Talks With Our Daughters~ Treasures from the pages Part 1


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I have been given many little treasures throughout the decades of my life. One of these is a little leather-bound (falling apart) book, Talks With Our Daughters by Sister Eleanore from 1925, and published by Benziger Brothers, printers to the Holy Apostolic See. I thought I would share some of the words from this little treasure here with you. I have not seen it anywhere else. I’m not sure it has ever been reprinted. The context is that this book was written for young ladies. Sister Eleanore was an educated woman with a Ph.D. who taught Catholic girls in school. She wrote a series of talks for their benefit. The language in Sister’s writing is somewhat formal, very much in keeping with other similar books of the day, but the message she shares is beautiful and  timeless.

This first installation (Part 1) deals with giving girls an appreciation for their value and worth as unique individuals made by God. Sister gently challenges each to be her best self, and in doing so she offers an unique and unrepeatable gift to the world.

Enjoy-  Image

The quality of any race or people is determined more by its women than by its men. Men dominate in the wold of external activities, but emotionally they are influenced by women for good or for evil. Though the relations between men and women are freighted with illusion, out of this illusion come great virtues: chivalry, the magic of the home, and the hope of the nation. The teacher and friend of girls, therefore enjoys a privilege which brings with it a fearful responsibility. Along with their secular education, girls must be taught those religious principles upon which character is founded . The whole meaning of Christian living is contained in the two great commandments enjoining the love of God and the love of neighbor. It is the purpose of this little book to set forth in a series of talks some ways of observing these commandments in such manner as to aid the …girl, and perhaps others, in the development of character.

…Beauty, is not, as so many think, a mere external; it must come primarily and chiefly from within. Yet, it is possible so to permeate oneself with the beautiful that it becomes part of oneself, just as sunlight permeates air. There is no real difference between the air of the day and that of the night; yet the former is filled with light. In like manner is charming personality permeated with beauty of soul. In these days when the subtle powers of darkness have been loosed upon earth as never before, it is very necessary that the young woman face the light of truth and idealism and make her soul so clear and free from evil that this sunlight of beauty may shine through her being…


The first commandment of all is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy

whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with they whole mind, and with thy whole strength.”

When the long twilight shadows creep from the west across the world and the children of day begin to drowse, perchance, sitting alone in your room, you fall into pensive mood. The gloaming hour, drifting slowly downward in its mantle of darkness to which the failing fingers of the day still cling, brings the brooding sky so near that you can almost look beyond it. Through your window you see the faint tracery of the leaves against the heavens and you watch the stars come one by one into the blue. Mayhap you reflect that among those millions of leaves and stars no two leaves and no two stars are exactly alike. Perhaps your soul travels on the swift wings of your imagination to the remotest corners of the world, passing over the millions of people who may be, as you are, dreaming in the solemn stillness of this sanctuary hour. Possible you are arrested by the thought that among all these people there are no two persons exactly alike. What then, of you?

Generation after generation has lived and died upon the earth; generation after generation will live and die upon the earth. but you have never before lived among men, and another you never will live among them in the years to come. How wonderful then, how important is this first and only YOU…


….You ask yourself, In what are you so wonderful and so important? Modest though you be you must answer that the reason is in your very self, because you are infinitely loveworthy. Long, long before the first star was set int he firmament, long before the earth brought forth its first green herb, you existed in the heart of your eternal Lover. Everlastingly He has seen you as you now dream in this twilight hour. Eternally, as a lover must, He has watched over you, has joyed in your happiness, has sorrowed in your sorrow, has rejoiced in your success, has lamented in your failure. ..What a Lover is He! …In human love there is always the danger of instability. If you love in a selfish manner, you fear that your dear one may prefer another before you, you fear lest at some time there be some lack of confidence between you, you face the possibility that your ideals may be disappointed by some weakness in the object you regard…If on the other hand you love unselfishly, you (may have) doubts of yourself…In your natural wish to fill the life of your loved one with sweetness, you (may) lament your impotence. But your divine Lover can do all these things for you.

At every dawning a throng of little joys…run out from under the throne of God to brighten your waking hours. Among them may be some little griefs, with rainbow wings, because they know that they shall be treasured for eternity when their sad work of the day is done. The joys would far outnumber the griefs even if you were the saddest of men…

…God made this only YOU, first for Himself, then for your own sake, and finally that you might be of service to others. Since he has made only one YOU, he has designed for you from eternity a special place in the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, there is a special human life on earth that you alone can live, and there is a particular work in the world which you alone can do…

…In this quiet hour of meditation…enter into yourself and study your strength, your weakness, your abilities, your incompetencies. ..

Your Beloved…wants others to share His bliss in you. He therefore gave you intelligence, beauty, charm, in a word., He made you lovable…Have you, perchance, spoiled God’s handiwork in you? Have you failed to keep your beauty of soul and mind and body? have you allowed selfishness to destroy your charm? Have you developed your mind at the expense of your heart…? Ask yourself these serious questions.

If happily you have kept and augmented your intelligence and beauty and charm, have you allowed others to share them with you? Do you spend yourself that others may have joy in you? there is in you hidden loveliness that no one else can ever possess. Are you going to your grave without letting others see it? If you do, you will have deprived them of something which none but you can supply. A leaf is only a little thing, and yet the first leaf to fall from the tree mars the summer beauty of the whole…If one heart fails to contribute its individual gift to the spiritual wealth of humanity, the loss is not only irreparable, but of everlasting consequence.

Will you occasion such a loss? You may do so if you fail to speak the little word of kindness that means so much, if you fail to do for others the little deeds of self-sacrifice. The only road to happiness is the road of self-sacrificing service. If you think of yourself, as you should, only in terms of eternity, what will the transient trials of a day mean to you? If you waste no time in brooding over your difficulties, you will have more time in which to overcome them. You will have also more time in which to help others in their troubles. As you look back over the day that has just gone, you will see that the truly happy moments have been those in which there was the least thought of self...Today has gone forever, but you can look forward to the morrow. Night unfolds the earth and your twilight hour is ended. you must go to your work or to your play or to your rest. May the spirit of this hour remain with you then and always!

-Sister M. Eleanore C.S.C.,, PhD


photo courtesy of APKDad

Chivalry is Not Dead-


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Open your door?

They got that.

Hold your coat so you can slide in?

No problem.

Real men still behave like knights in shining armor and there are, despite some ideas to the contrary, still plenty around. Moms and dads are training their sons even as I type….

Here is my latest from Today’s Catholic News: Chivalry is not dead with Catholic men….

knight on white horsephoto courtesy of


This is an extremely important video post-relevant to every family who cherishes freedom


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You will not hear about this in many places. Please pray for Venezuela and share this video so others will know what is happening there. The video starts to mention that country around 4:45, but it’s worth listening to the whole video from start to finish, to get a good understanding of what is going on there, and also the dangers of socialism-

How is this relevant to every family who cherishes freedom?

When countries look the other way at the human rights violations happening right here in this hemisphere (government representatives, fully armed, attacking unarmed, peaceful students), that allows the evil and errors to fester and spread. To cherish our freedom, we must first pray for these people, second bring awareness about the situation, and third, do what we can to safeguard our own freedom.

Please pray for Venezuela! 

The Importance of Giving Your Gift of Time


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When Quantity Trumps

clock-featured-w480x300The Mister and I just had a romantic dinner in the basement, served by two little girls. The main course was Fisher Price peas and pizza, real water from a sturdy, plastic teapot and Cheez-Its.  We were entertained by music playing on daddy’s cell phone and the evening ended with a rousing rendition of The Village People’s “YMCA”. Yes of course we danced with the waitresses.

Planning doesn’t create spontaneous family moments like these; so often these special moments just ‘happen’, when availability meets creativity and openness. Even if we were to have tried to design this quality evening, likely it wouldn’t have come off like the spontaneous one did. “Mommy! Daddy! Come downstairs! We have a surprise!” interjected itself into my husband’s and my evening like an unexpected kiss. Planning is all fine and dandy but you simply can’t blueprint everything in real life.

Thank goodness.

Unprompted, sweet, relationship-building moments that occur from spending a quantity amount of time with those we love form the basis of daily family life. We often hear the phrase “quality time” tossed about, as though it were separate from quantity time, and something to be aspired to independently from abundant hours, days and weeks. In reality, however, quantity time trumps the often aimed-for quality time any day, for ironically when opportunities are plentiful quality time appears, and takes care of itself.

One of the best gifts Catholic (or any) parents can offer their children is the generous giving of their time.  In forty years, it won’t matter to a child that his dad earned more than enough to purchase a huge entertainment center for the basement if by doing so it meant his father’s absence in working weekends, evenings and other spare moments. The extra vacation, boat or address in a premier neighborhood means less to a child than backyard ball tosses with Dad on a regular basis or the daily relaxed interaction with a present and loving Mom.

Many parents must work long hours to provide necessities for their families. They are to be admired. But there is a prevalent notion in modern society that certain things are necessities when in truth they are not. We must distinguish between the two. Some parents fall into the trap of thinking their children need more things than they really do: electronics gadgets, the latest and greatest toy or in-style clothing. The truth is, so long as a child’s basic needs are met, he is generally happy and will thrive. Luxuries like 4-H membership, swim team involvement, baseball or dance class can be good and enriching, for sure, helping a child develop his or her particular talents, but their importance is significantly less than simple one-on-one attention that a parent offers to his child. As we all know, true happiness and the ability to become one’s best possible self comes from nurturing, love and attention, not stuff, even good stuff.

Giving time is a challenge for sure. Beds must be made. Meals must be cooked. Clothes must be folded and clutter put away. Money must be earned to provide basic needs. But nothing is more important than scooping up the little one tugging at your sleeve, hugging her and showing her the bird perched out the window, and listening to the expressions of the little thoughts on her mind.. When children arrive home from school one of the parents needs to be there, waiting, ready for that quality time that might pop up anywhere, at any moment. Nothing says love like our presence.

Yesterday, I was reading a science book about earthworms with my 8-year-old daughter. My girl begged to put on our boots and go into the garden to dig. She wanted to find worms to put in a glass jar and observe. I didn’t want to go. I was comfortable. I had a schedule. It was wet and icky outside. I am not a fan of worms. But I looked at my daughter, imagining the day she’ll leave for college. I wanted to give her another memory and another token of my love in this fast changing life of ours. I said ‘yes.’ We sloshed through the mud surrounded by misty air and the smell of the spring earth. My daughter tried to coax the worms, “Come on little guy” as she poked gently with a stick. We giggled. We sang a few songs. Quality emerged from quantity. Again.

We parents give our children many gifts. We work hard to provide safe homes for them. Good meals for them. Warm clothes and learning experiences. This is how we demonstrate unselfish love to our children. In our parental caring, however, we should remember: the gift of our time and ourselves is actually the most thoughtful and best gift of all.


Originally appeared in Today’s Catholic News and Integrated Catholic Life, May 2013

Pray for Venezuela!


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Please pray for Venezuela- for peace and freedom. This is what is happening- right NOW.


From Students for Students in Venezuela :

February 12th was the Day of The Youth in Venezuela, and students went out to the street to protest because of their decadent standards of living: hyperinflation, shortages of basic goods, extreme violence in the streets, outrageous insecurity(25,000+ homicides in 2013), among many other socioeconomic and political problems.

The government sent out the army and the national guard to dissolve the protests, and students were killed, hundreds were jailed or are missing, many are in hospitals injured and fighting for their lives.

The students kept protesting, they have been in the streets since Wednesday February 12th, and THEY ARE NOT GIVING UP! They want the illegitimate government that brought the country to its worst level of misery, out! They want the people of Venezuela to be able to start rebuilding the country so the youth can start hoping for a bright future again, so the Venezuelan people can live in peace.”

Editor’s note: I personally know a family involved. Shortages of basic goods such as toilet paper and milk is not uncommon. Guns are illegal, but thugs have access to them. Carjackings are rampant. Cars are tinted for safety, and the license numbers of cars are routinely engraved on the sides of cars because carjackings are so common. Genesis Carmona, 22 year old Miss Venezuela 2010 was brutally shot and killed Februry 18, 2014. In January, former Miss Venezuela, Monica Spear, was shot and killed with her ex husband in front of their five year old child in a brutal roadside robbery just west of Caracas.

With over 65 homicides per day, and one of the most dangerous capitals in the world. 90% of the murders are not prosecuted. These conditions lead students to protest.

PLEASE pray for this country and these people!

This video above was created by a 21 year old native Venezuelan girl. Read this : how a first time filmmaker alerted the world to the student protests in Venezuela. 

Previously she says she used YouTube “just to view random music videos”. Then on Thursday last week she attended class as usual in the school of marketing and telecommunications at the University of Florida. She and her fellow students were learning how to use Adobe Premier Pro. “I learned it in a day,” she says. Then the next day, “I woke up, and from 10am to 10pm I made the video. I skipped class and everything. Usually I am not good at technology. I don’t know how to check my computer for a virus. When I made the film, it was like God was moving my hands.

This is the story of Genesis Carmona, the 22 year old marketing student and professional model (“Miss Tourism” of Venezuela) who was brutally killed by Venezuelan government officials/ police during student protests in Valencia yesterday- 

genesis carmona 2

22 year old Genesis Carmona, brutally murdered in a peaceful anti-government protest yesterday, courtesy of Voxxi 

Last month, in January, another former Miss Venezuela, Miss Monica Spear, was shot and killed with her former husband in front of their five year old daughter on a roadside by thugs. This type of rampant murder is one part of what students are protesting against.

Monica Spear

Monica Spear, former Miss Venezuela, Universe 2005, brutally murdered roadside outside of Caracas, Venezuela in front of her five year old daughter.

Photo courtesy of Liberty Voice

You can join the Facebook page “Praying for Venezuela” or “Students for Venezuela” to keep up to date.

UPDATE: This picture below is from Valencia, Venezuela  from THIS Twitter account:

picture taken Valencia Venezuela 840 pm Feb 19 from Students for Students FB page

Caracas Chronicles has up to date video footage of what has transpired in the last few hours. Warning: it is disturbing and not appropriate for young children. Language in the comments are also not suitable for youngsters.

The patroness of Venezuela is Our Lady of Coromoto

our lady of coromotoCatholics, please PRAY A ROSARY NOW to ask God for protection of innocent civilians and for this wounded country.

Those of other faiths, please pray in any way you see fit. We are united in asking God for protection for the people in Venezuela, particularly the innocent young who have done nothing wrong.

You may be interested in:

–Julia writes about her life inside Venezuela and offers an explanation and opinion here. 

The wife of jailed Leopoldo Lopez brings a statue of Our Lady of Coromoto to visit him. 

Why Venezuela’s chaos matters to us (Heritage Foundation) 

UPDATE: Video of FL Senator Marco Rubio speaking against the oppressive Cuban government and how Cuba is supporting the atrocities being perpetrated against the unarmed citizens of Venezuela. 

And watch here where reporter Wolf Blitzer interviews Rubio about Venezuela and the accusation by Maduro that he is ‘craziest of crazies’:

“I  am … pointing out the human rights violations….we should be involved and care…they should be getting the same level of attention as what is happening in Egypt…Ukraine…this is actually closer to us ..we should put together a package of sanctions against these individuals who are committing these atrocities, these crimes…” 

“We need to lead through our example….” 

“Cubans get free and cheap oil from Venezuelans. their interest is keeping this regime in place…their benefactors. Cuba is (helping)repress activities…helping further terrorism around the world….” 

Let us add our prayers for American lawmakers and leaders who have the courage to stand up for the freedom of Venezuelan citizens and for peace there! Please join me in praying an Our Father for their protection, wisdom, courage and strength during this difficult hour and desperate time of need for our South American neighbors.

Diocesan Marriage and Family Conference – keynotes Dr. Ray Guarendi, Bishop Kevin Rhoades


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Diocesan Marriage and Family Conference

  – Click Here to Register Online Now! 


Dr. Ray Guarendi, Bishop Rhoades to speak at Marriage and Family Conference in March

The diocesan Office of Family Life will be hosting the third biennial Diocesan Marriage and Family Conference on Saturday, March 29, at the Notre Dame Conference Center (McKenna Hall). The conference will begin at 9:30 in the morning and will adjourn at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades will open the conference with morning prayer and a reflection. Dr. Ray Guarendi, an internationally known speaker, author and host of his own radio show, will speak at both plenary sessions onMarriage: Small Steps, Big Rewards and Standing Strong as a Parent.

The conference will also feature 2 workshop sessions. The sessions will include three workshops from which to choose. Topics will include theology of the Eucharist and marriage, communication and intimacy in marriage, family life, parenting issues, and the Christian family as the church of the home. Confirmed workshop and panelist speakers include Msgr. Michael Heintz, Fred and Lisa Everett, Theresa Thomas, and John Sikorski.

To register for the conference, Click Here or call the Notre Dame Conference Center at (574) 631-6691 for more information. The cost for this daylong conference, which includes continental breakfast, a boxed lunch and afternoon snacks, is $35 per person.


8:30 AM Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:30 AM Morning Prayer Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades

10:00 AM Plenary Session One:

Marriage: Small Steps, Big Rewards Dr. Ray Guarendi

11:00 AM BREAK

11:25 AM Workshop Session One

   ~Creating a Big-Hearted Family Theresa Thomas

   ~Building Communication & Intimacy in Marriage Lisa Everett

   ~The Christian Family as the Domestic Church John Sikorski

12:15 PM LUNCH

1:05 PM Plenary Session Two:

Standing Strong as a Parent Dr. Ray Guarendi


2:25 PM Workshop Session Two

   ~When the Giver becomes the Gift: the Eucharist and Marriage Msgr. Michael Heintz

   ~Building Communication & Intimacy in Marriage (repeat) Lisa Everett

   ~The Christian Family as the Domestic Church (repeat) John Sikorski


3:40 PM Panel Discussion:

Handing on the Faith to our Children

4:30 PM Closing Prayer