From Surviving to Thriving with 13 Kids: Inspiration from a Faithful Catholic Family

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In August of 2016, both The Washington Post and Business Insider chronicled the financial success of Rob and Sam Fatzinger, a dynamic husband and wife team, and how they have managed to raise their thirteen children debt-free in one of the most expensive regions in the United States.

These two articles are very worthwhile, both from the perspective of making good decisions regarding personal finances and the perspective of good old-fashioned common sense. However, the epicPew piece here will focus on their inspirational faith life. The Fatzinger family is dedicated to the ministry of home-schooling, and they attend the internationally historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church (where John Carroll, the first bishop of the United States, was elected by his Jesuit brethren) in Bowie, Maryland. Below are five questions that were presented to Rob and Sam, followed by their answers for your inspiration.

 

Q #1. In what ways do the Fatzingers strive to keep Christ at the center of your family life?

A #1. Definitely daily mass is on top, evening Rosary when possible, and living the liturgical year. It is hard to answer this on a family level, since most of our kids are older now and responsible for their own faith formation. Our kids attend high school retreats as much as possible. Quo Vadis, Mount 2000, Steubenville, and Camp Maria are some of the retreats that help us enhance our spirituality. My high school kids attend evening Bible study, go to youth group, and our boys serve as altar servers. I (Sam) love getting to a holy hour once a week, but it was difficult to find a time that worked with my family and my personality. I am a morning person, so I finally found Saturday early morning about 5:00 a.m. my best bet. Being involved in parish activities is a huge part of our lives. It is such a blessing to have a great parish that offers so many activities.

 

Q #2. What are some daily habits that your family performs in order to steadily enrich your Catholic faith?

A #2. Rob and I try to exercise daily to relieve stress, and I take the kids to daily mass or go by myself, have some quiet meditation time, and say the Rosary. Family meals are a huge part of our family. Early bedtime is a big part of our parenting. It is not as easy as it was in the beginning when we had mostly young children. Of course holidays, birthdays, and helping each other out are top priorities.

 

Q #3. Does your family have a devotion to any particular saint(s)? Why are you drawn to him/her/them?

A #3. The Infant of Prague, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady Undoer of Knots, Saint Dominic Savio, Saint Joseph, and others. My kids and husband drew me to these saints.

 

Q #4. Since you come from a “large” family, what is some advice for encouraging society to embrace family unity, rather than mere individuality? In other words, how can different families work together to serve the broader community?

A #4. Be the type of person who attracts others. Don’t ever apologize for having lots of kids; live and look confident in your family and the decisions you make. Look your best in public, and make sure that your kids behave, People are always looking for us to mess up. People will be attracted to you and your lifestyle. Be kind and involved in ways that fit your family’s state in life. Support other families, help out with kids, meals, prayer support, and building activities to enhance families, not stress them out.

 

Q #5. What do you recommend for Catholic families that are looking for ways to contribute to what Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis have referred to as the “New Evangelization”?

A #5. When in public, keep a smile on your face, say hello to others, and be friendly. Go out of your way for others. Love the sinner and hate the sin. Find ways to bring back people to God, and be the beacon in the dark world.

Thank you, Fatzingers, for your wise advice on striving to live as a faithful Catholic family!

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