Bishop Burbidge celebrates Mass for homeschool families

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Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville welcomed some 1,200 youngsters and their parents for the Mass for homeschooling families Nov. 3. During his homily, Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge thanked those gathered for their faithful witness. 

“My young friends, how blessed are you to have such wonderful parents to teach you every day how to love God and how to love your neighbor,” he told the children. “How blessed you are to have parents who understand and appreciate the privilege, role and responsibility God has given them to be your first teachers, certainly in academics, but most especially in the ways of faith.”

While traveling throughout the diocese, Bishop Burbidge said he frequently sees homeschoolers volunteering at institutions that serve the poor and needy.  “I know how much you long to grow in holiness. I’ve had the opportunity to see and meet many of you, and I’m so inspired and impressed by you,” he said. “I want to thank you for that generosity, that service and that compassion you offer.”

Bishop Burbidge also thanked the homeschool parents. “I’m sure, dear parents, that like all teachers you know some frustrations. You do not always see the visible and the immediate results you would like from your dear students,” he said. “Jesus tells us in the Gospel to persevere, assuring us that those seeds that we plant each and every day, our efforts and our sacrifices will never go in vain.”

gift bearers

Gift bearers (left) Alana Clark, Evan Cobos, Grace Gaulden, Mary Beth Balint and her infant son, Brendan, greet Bishop Burbidge.

After the Mass, families snacked on pumpkin cake and apple cider while enjoying the sunny day. Children jumped on the two moon bounces as Bishop Burbidge met with parents. 

“It's really encouraging that Bishop Burbidge is supportive of homeschoolers,” said Mariette Young, a parishioner of St. Veronica Church in Chantilly. “It was his initiative, so that speaks volumes.”

Mariette and her husband, Paul, homeschool their three children: Mary Clare, Catherine and Peter. “We wanted to be close as a family, and to ensure as best as possible that my kids learn and live the faith,” said Mariette. 

“(Homeschooling) allows us to customize the education so that each child gets more of what they need,” added Paul. Using Seton Home Study for the curriculum and academic support was a “tremendous gift,” said Mariette. 

The Young children enthusiastically support their parents’ decision to homeschool. The siblings are able to get a lot of family bonding time but still have opportunities to socialize with others, said Mary Clare, gesturing to the crowded room of homeschool families. “There are all these different homeschoolers to interact with and also more adults,” she said. 

Maura and Colin Burkhalter, parishioners of St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Clifton, have been homeschooling for seven years. “My sister-in-law was homeschooling when we were dating and engaged, and we saw that experience and decided then that we wanted to homeschool our kids,” said Colin.

“It's a beautiful way to keep the family together,” said Maura. “We wanted to pick what they were reading, what they were learning. There’s so much goodness out there, you wouldn't know it from our society, but there’s a lot of goodness to be had.”

Bishop Burbidge was glad so many families came to the Mass. 

“It was an honor and privilege to celebrate Mass for many of the homeschool families from throughout the Diocese. It was incredible to see how many wonderful families took the time to join in this celebration,” he said. “I pray that whatever education setting is best for a particular family, they know of my desire to support them and encourage them in being the best and first teachers of their children, especially in the ways of faith."

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

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