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Bishop Burbidge celebrates Mass for homeschool families

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Jackie Pearce felt like she was missing the best hours of her children's days. They were groggy as they headed to school and exhausted when they came home. In prayer, she felt God leading her to home school. But she was worried her husband wouldn’t agree, so she made a PowerPoint explaining how this was the best decision for their family.

“He said yes as soon as the presentation finished, and we haven't looked back,” said Pearce. As her kids play sports in the evening and her husband works at their restaurant at nights, so sharing meals and learning during the day gives them plenty of family time. And she believes she’s able to better form her children in the faith. “I believe that the Lord’s call to home schooling has allowed me to really focus on giving my children the strongest foundation possible.”

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass for Pearce and other home-schooling families in the diocese at Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville Oct. 25. In his homily, he encouraged the students and teachers to let go of last year’s setbacks and dedicate themselves to growing closer to God during this new academic year. “God allows us to grow and be transformed and we must allow each other to do the same,” Bishop Burbidge said.

A recent interaction he had while traveling was a reminder to always be God’s light in the world. “I was on a train and there was some sort of power shortage and all the lights went out. As I’m walking, someone recognized my white collar and humorously said, ‘Oh good, here comes the light.’ At first I laughed, but later in prayer I decided that I must accept that as a challenge,” said Bishop Burbidge. “That’s something people should be able to say when they see us — there is the light. We can only (reflect the light of Christ) to the extent that we are warmed by his radiance as we come into his presence each day in prayer.”

After Mass, the families ate sweets and enjoyed the moon bounce and puppet show set up outside the church. Home schooling mom Cassie Henry said the large home-schooling community is one of the great benefits of home schooling. There’s always someone to bring you a meal or watch your children or to bounce educational ideas off of, she said.

The community also supports one another in prayer. Henry said that once a home-schooling friend suffered the death of a child. The community made a sign-up online and committed to have someone praying for the family throughout the night and day for two days.

Henry loves that she can tailor her lessons to each child’s strengths and weaknesses. She loves the trips they can take as a family. “We don’t have any snow days, we have good weather days,” she said.

Her husband Robert appreciates how home schooling has formed his spiritual life. “I think I would run the risk, if our children went to a traditional away school, of tending to forget about that responsibility that I have to be one of the primary educators of our children,” he said. “It's definitely been a big benefit to me and my prayer life remembering and keeping that part of my vocation front and center.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019

@ZoeyMaraistACH