Marriage & Family Life: Passing on Faith is Like Apprenticeship

by Adam Storey | February 18, 2019

Adam Storey

My wife is a tremendous cook and host, and I’m happy to say that I can already see these gifts flourishing in my son, Gabriel.

Just last weekend we were having friends over, and Saturday morning Gabriel passionately exclaimed, pumping his fist, “Get ready dad! Today we’re going to bake! Bake! BAKE!” 

Now I’m not a baker, but since I get to enjoy the fruits of this work, I gave my wholehearted assent.

My son’s love of baking got me thinking about how this quality first grew in his heart. Since he was two, he’d often be found standing on a chair next to my wife, helping her mix ingredients in a bowl, or roll out dough, or (Lord help us) crack eggs.

He’s seen recipes go wrong, and he’s delighted in a recipe that went just right. He’s been able to ask questions, wrestle with challenges and learn tricks of the trade.

Most importantly, he’s experienced my wife’s love of baking up close, he’s seen her joy, and he’s grown to desire it too.

I’d argue that the way parents pass on our faith is no different.

My wife didn’t ask Gabriel to study cookbooks or memorize recipes, she invited him to participate in something that brought her joy.

Parents are the primary evangelists and catechists of our children, and to me the best image of passing on the faith is one of apprenticeship.

It’s about parents living out their faith passionately, it’s about devotions, and acts of service, and wrestling with hard truths. And then it’s as simple as inviting your children into that, to see your joy and to experience it.

Through these experiences the faith becomes more than a concept, it becomes a lived reality, a personal encounter with Jesus that can change our lives.

Practicing this apprenticeship of faith formation is as relevant for adult children as it is for small children. There is never a time where we can’t share the joy of our faith with our family.

It’s important to remember that our children are also free and that we can’t always see the grace of God acting in someone’s life. We can’t force our children to embrace our faith. What we can do, by the grace of God, is be transformed ourselves. We can grow in intimacy with God, and love of him, and we can invite others to participate in that relationship.

Adam Storey

Adam Storey leads the Marriage Ministry Department for the Diocese of Des Moines, which seeks to work with parishes and couples, walking with all families in all their stages, in their joys and sorrows, their celebrations and challenges.