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Keepers by the Dozen (raising large families)
National Catholic Register ^ | July 10, 2006 | GINA GIAMBRONE

Posted on 07/11/2006 1:16:06 PM PDT by NYer

On Sundays, they typically fill more than one pew. At restaurants, they require multiple tables. They frequently travel in 15-passenger vans and often buy breakfast cereal in bulk.


They are large Catholic families — and they stand as a refreshing witness to the joy of having many children in a culture that takes great pains to discourage the conception of new life.


These families declare courageously, if wordlessly, that life is a priceless gift from God.


Jim and Donna Murphy of Cincinnati exemplify the joy of raising a large family. Married for 18 years, the Murphys have been blessed with 10 children: seven on earth and three in heaven. Donna holds degrees in physical therapy, but her greatest credentials are her children — Jacob, Maria, Vincent, Joseph, Megan, Isabella and Sean.


And don’t forget the three who were lost in miscarriage, Raphael Kelly, Michael Angela and Gabriel Robert.


Every night, as the family kneels in Jim and Donna’s room for prayer, they mention all their children, including the three already in heaven. “My number-one goal is to get our family to heaven,” Donna says. “I tell my children that this is the basis that I try to use to make all my decisions.”


That’s why Donna’s home-school routine includes prayers, Mass readings and studies of apologetics and Scripture.


The daily routine also includes Dad’s return from work. “One of my greatest joys is when I walk in the door,” says Jim. “Three or four kids will run to greet me. It is a daily reminder of why I go to work and why I am needed at home.”


The children, in turn, always offer something back to their parents.


“The wisdom of children helps us keep our perspective,” says Donna. According to Jim, being a parent of a large family “has made me a more giving and selfless person. It has humbled me and helped me realize that I am not in control of everything. I have come to realize that my marriage and family are my path to holiness.”


Fifty miles north, in Dayton, Ohio, Vince and Detsy Sacksteder also testify to the happiness of having many children. They have 11, spanning in age from 35 to 14, as well as two more who died in the first weeks of pregnancy, Isaac and Timothy. According to Detsy, a proud homemaker, “My joy has been the gift of being a co-creator with God, to experience life being knit together in my womb, to be given the gift of letting an immortal soul be enclosed in my body.”


Except for Vincent IV, a professor in India, and Ann who is away at college, all the other Sacksteders — Rachel, Mary, Bernadette, Sarah, Jacob, Joanna, Liz, Jess, and Paul — live at home or nearby.


“The greatest joy of a large family is the relationships,” says Vince. “Pairs of them or groups of three will talk for hours, laughing hysterically every few minutes, and groups of four or more are an instant party.”


While Detsy always loved babies, she now appreciates the rewards of having children who are mostly grown. “Rather than grieving the loss of my childbearing years, I rejoice in the gift of my older children and the life of grace they have chosen,” she says.


Detsy and Vince don’t take all the credit for this happy, flourishing family, however. “Even if we lack some of the tools for the job, God makes things come out right when we are doing the job out of love for him,” Vince says. “Each child is a step of faith, with confidence in God’s love and wisdom, and confidence in his provision.”


“We are like the farmer,” Detsy adds. “We sow the seed, but it is God, through his gifts, his blessing, who gives life and growth. We just reap the harvest.”


Few could understand this equation better than Norman and Rosemary Loehr, who raised their 11 children on a dairy farm in Mount Calvary, Wis. Rosemary gave birth to her sons and daughters over the course of four decades, with her oldest, Pat, being born in 1959 and her youngest, Kris, arriving in 1980. Joan, Marlene, Linda, Tom, Dan, Karen, Bob, Joe and Mark all spanned the intervening years.


For Rosemary, 40 years of pregnancies, childbearing, and/or childrearing were filled with the exuberance of seeing her children interact with and benefit from each other.


She and Norman also enjoyed watching their children’s many sporting events and musical functions, as well as supporting their countless 4H projects over the years.


These activities were only part of the family routine, which also included many different chores. These daily duties on the farm helped the Loehrs in raising their family. “Growing up on a farm offered many opportunities for the kids to have responsibilities at a very young age,” says Rosemary. “Each was given specific jobs to do.”


They had a threefold philosophy of parenting. According to Norman, “Our idea was to work together, pray together and play together.”

 Their Children’s Children

  Now, as many of their children raise families of their own, Norman and Rosemary love watching their grandchildren grow up. Grandma and Grandpa Loehr are never lacking for company; all the grandchildren live within an hour of the farm, some as close as a five-minute walk through the fields.


The grandchildren love to come over to feed the calves, to help Grandma decorate cookies or to play cards at the dining room table.


The delight and love radiating within the Loehr home is the fruit of years of prayer and trust in God. Norman and Rosemary had a simple approach to raising their family.


“As Catholics, we used the guidelines of our faith,” says Rosemary. “We always tried to set a good example and live our faith.”
           
Through their openness to conceive, bear and nurture new life many times over, these three couples defend the nobility of the family in the face of cultural opposition.


Of course, heroic families come in other shapes and sizes too: the birth parents who choose adoption for their child, the loving parents whose situation only permits a small family, the adoptive parents who welcome children into their family, the parents who endure the agony of miscarriage, the spiritual mothers and fathers who transform the cross of infertility into the gift of nurturing and supporting those around them.


All of these families are helping to promote authentic respect for human dignity. Their Christ-like love, forged through courageous sacrifices and selfless generosity, is helping to lay the foundation for a culture of life and a civilization of love.




TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; Ministry/Outreach; Prayer; Religion & Culture; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholic; catholiclist; catholics; family; moralabsolutes
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To: Pyro7480
I have suffered a tragedy of this nature over 20 years ago and I pray that the family can survive it.

I was in Oklahoma last weekend and was told of a tragedy that had occurred there the week before. A man and his two young sons were killed. The mother and daughter were still alive but the daughter may not make it. If the mother survives I fear for her sanity, I know I could not have survived the death of my 18 year old son had I not had a husband, son and daughter to live for.May God be with all these people.
51 posted on 07/12/2006 7:47:55 AM PDT by Ditter
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To: NYer

I don't know where you are now, but in New York and northern New Jersey, large Catholic families are all but nonexistent, due to the high cost of living here.


52 posted on 07/12/2006 7:50:49 AM PDT by Clemenza (I don't want the world, I just want YOUR half!)
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To: wagglebee

One if you want it or I could try pinging it later.


53 posted on 07/12/2006 8:00:58 AM PDT by little jeremiah
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To: redgolum

I was thinking of my Dad, who as the eldest son of a large family, had to drop out of school at age 12 to do most of the work on the farm his folks had acquired. He was big and strong ofr his age, thankfully, for his Dad was not cut out to be a farmer. An immigrant from a German city, "Dad" had grudgingly given up his job as an engineer at brewery and bought the farm at the insistence of his farmer's daughter's wife. You know what running a dairy entails and grandpop was not up to it. He stayed in the house and had coffee while my Dad handled the cows. For more than ten years my Dad was in charge, and learned be jack of all trades. This served him well and went into the oil field, where he helped support the family by sending half his pay home, Ironically, the person left in charge was his younger sister who could outwork almost any man, except my Dad, the hardest working man I ever knew. Eventually he became the superintedent of a drilling company. Forgive me if I wave lyrical about my hero, my Dad. Kudos to you.


54 posted on 07/12/2006 8:04:57 AM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: ma ja99

My wife is pregnant with our 6th, and while we try to keep our shopping to times when I can help out there are times when she has to take them in. Our 2 oldest help out very much though.

We teach our kids that we are not only ambassadors for Christ, but ambassadors for large families too, and when we are in public we have to remember that. Proper dress and behavior are part of our ambassadorship. Unfortunately there are people who snap to conclusions when they see us and we don't want to do anything to aid those conclusions. Rather, we hope our good display will help people like you to get over your prejudices.


55 posted on 07/12/2006 8:06:16 AM PDT by goodform
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To: Ditter
Just considering the number of HUGE houses that are being built around here (and everywhere) I would have thought that families with 10 to 12 kids was the norm. I recently discovered that many of these monster houses aren't even finished off up stairs and are inhabited by 2 people.

I have noticed this, too. A lot of smaller families have large houses, while our family of seven has a tiny house. I thought maybe if we had less children, we could have had a bigger house. Then I looked at my children and couldn't think of one of them I would not want to have.

One thing I noticed about large families. Unless there is a dysfunctional problem, the children with large families will have close friends for life. A few weeks ago my sister-in-law was talking about how close her family is. As an only child it's something I will never know.

56 posted on 07/12/2006 8:23:33 AM PDT by HungarianGypsy
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To: ma ja99

**I'm just not impressed by it.**

Sorry you feel that way.

The Lord is impressed, "Go therefore, and be fruitful and multiply."


57 posted on 07/12/2006 8:33:31 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: petitfour

Wonderful testimony. Thank you.


58 posted on 07/12/2006 8:35:53 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: RobbyS

Excellent point!


59 posted on 07/12/2006 8:37:02 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: jrny

Congratulations to you and your wife.


60 posted on 07/12/2006 8:38:30 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: redgolum

**This culture is so odd in that it glorifies having no responsibilities and yet every one wants to be treated with total respect.**

Yet they ALWAYS want instant gratification! Go figure!


61 posted on 07/12/2006 8:40:57 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Pyro7480
Oh, how sad. I was just thinking of posting the a and her family on the death of their son, Joshua.

thread about that book, so guess I will. God bless Regina and her family as they grieve the loss of their son, Joshua.

Angel in the Waters -- New Pro-Life book for children [Tissue Alert]

62 posted on 07/12/2006 8:48:17 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Thank you.


63 posted on 07/12/2006 8:52:24 AM PDT by jrny
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To: Northern Yankee
As a middle child I was feeling quite neglected and decided to run away. (We lived out in the country, so there were plenty places to go.) I left in the afternoon and was gone for 4 hours. I came back right before dinner, and no one even knew I was gone! ; )

Funny story!

You know, another comeback that your Dad could have used on that drunk, was to brag that "the Mrs. likes to hide the remote control, she can't help herself!"

64 posted on 07/12/2006 8:54:42 AM PDT by kstewskis ("Aim small, miss small...." Benjamin Martin to Nathan and Samuel)
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To: ma ja99
I think it's wrong to have children to raise your children so you can keep on popping out babies.

In other words, you think it's wrong for kids to learn responsibility and practice parenting skills while there's someone there to look over their shoulders?

Not to mention that a teenage girl with experience caring for a younger sibling will think twice, three times, and maybe four or five or six times before hopping into bed with a boyfriend and making a baby of her own. She begins to have a clue about how much work is really involved.

And some of the reasons appear to be nothing more than creating offerings for a Church.

Yeah, can't give anything back to God. That would just be wrong, wouldn't it ... ?!?

65 posted on 07/12/2006 8:57:52 AM PDT by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: NYer

Wow, great article. I have so much respect for large families - they are a wonderful thing.


66 posted on 07/12/2006 9:42:24 AM PDT by Kaylee Frye
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To: NYer
In our tiny parish, we have two large families: One, with all daughters, are all grown, but still all sit together with their mom. The other is a young military family. They have eight children: Six boys and two girls. The oldest boy is now a lector. When we lived in Minnesota, we were about 25 miles from an older couple who had had twenty-five kids. Yep. Two or three sets of twins, and all the kids were living.

I love to see large families out and about. I always compliment the parents for doing such a good job, because, almost invariably, their children are better behaved than any others to be seen at the moment, including my grandkids.

Any more, four or five children is considered a "large" family. When I was young, "large" didn't start until after the sixth child. I was the middle of seven.

67 posted on 07/12/2006 10:09:02 AM PDT by redhead (Alaska: Step out of the bus and into the food chain...)
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To: Campion
"But it's just not possible for one parent to fill the needs of that many children."

"Two things. One, a lot of those "needs" aren't really needs, just wants. Two, part of the value of a large family is that the older children have to learn to help out. That's often a better thing for kids than having a parent all to themselves, to fawn over them full-time."

Two more things: There are usually TWO parents in large families, each with different roles, of course. And a parent's job is not to be pals with their kids, but to raise them to be good family members and good citizens. There's time enough for "friendship" after they are older and need less "hands-on" training.

68 posted on 07/12/2006 10:18:56 AM PDT by redhead (Alaska: Step out of the bus and into the food chain...)
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To: PandaRosaMishima; condi2008

Thanks my memory bank was overdrawn yesterday.


69 posted on 07/12/2006 10:45:54 AM PDT by lastchance (Hug your babies.)
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To: Pyro7480

Dear Lord,

I pray that you will be a source of refuge and comfort for the family in this time of deep sorrow. May your holy angels be by their side. May your grace, love and mercy blanket their grieving hearts. May your sorrow for their loss remind you of your always loving presence in their lives. And may they one day rejoice with their son in heaven.

Oh Holy Mary Mother of God take this child in your arms, as you do all the children who must leave their earthly mothers. In Jesus name. Amen.


70 posted on 07/12/2006 10:51:28 AM PDT by lastchance (Hug your babies.)
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To: HungarianGypsy

Probably you don't have a larger house because houses with five or more bedrooms are hard to find, at any price.


71 posted on 07/12/2006 12:06:15 PM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: Clemenza
I don't know where you are now, but in New York and northern New Jersey, large Catholic families are all but nonexistent

You're just looking in the wrong places, at least as far as northern NJ goes.

72 posted on 07/12/2006 12:40:11 PM PDT by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: ELS
Lets see: I'm just going by what I see in the Churches of friends in places like Summit, Far Hills, Saddle River, Linden, and Paramus. Is there some Brigadoon somewhere where Catholics have large families?

Interestingly enough, where my sister lives in South Carolina, you are hard pressed to find a family with less than four kids. Its very affordable and a good place to raise a family, whether Catholic or Protestant.

73 posted on 07/12/2006 12:44:36 PM PDT by Clemenza (I don't want the world, I just want YOUR half!)
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To: ELS
Lets see: I'm just going by what I see in the Churches of friends and family in places like Summit, Far Hills, Saddle River, Linden, and Paramus. Is there some Brigadoon somewhere where Catholics have large families?

Interestingly enough, where my sister lives in South Carolina, you are hard pressed to find a family with less than four kids. Its very affordable and a good place to raise a family, whether Catholic or Protestant.

74 posted on 07/12/2006 12:44:49 PM PDT by Clemenza (I don't want the world, I just want YOUR half!)
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To: Clemenza
When the indult Mass started in Jersey City, there were three families with at least four kids (they all have at least five kids now, with one I think having seven). One of them lives in Livingston and the other two, until recently, lived in Jersey City. One still lives in Jersey City and the other moved to NY state. Other young families occasionally attend the TLM in Jersey City, but are not "regulars."

St. Anthony's Chapel in W. Orange has several large families in the congregation. One of the mothers is expecting her 10th child in the next couple of weeks.

Regarding the cost of living, it is true that these families are not living luxurious lives. My parents, as a professor and high school teacher, managed to raise six kids in Short Hills. As the youngest, I received my share of hand-me-down clothes. It can be done. One just needs to know clearly what their priorities are.

75 posted on 07/12/2006 1:03:38 PM PDT by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: ELS
It can be done. One just needs to know clearly what their priorities are.

True.

76 posted on 07/12/2006 1:04:25 PM PDT by Clemenza (I don't want the world, I just want YOUR half!)
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To: Campion
Not to mention that a teenage girl with experience caring for a younger sibling will think twice, three times, and maybe four or five or six times before hopping into bed with a boyfriend and making a baby of her own. She begins to have a clue about how much work is really involved.

Excellent points here, Campion!

In my own experience, though my immediate family is small (just us two kids), the extended family is HUGE, and being one of the oldest of the scarce girls in the family (we are strangely top-heavy with boys, by a ratio of at least 4:1), I had TONS of practice caring for babies and young children while I was growing up. By the time I had my own kids (AFTER marriage; I was no dummy), I was practically an old pro.

As for "thinking twice about making a baby of my own" before I had a responsible and caring husband to help me...well...you ain't just whistlin' Dixie, Jack. I certainly did, as did all my cousins, too. No one out of 73 made that particular mistake (though we made plenty of others). It didn't hurt that I had a 6'6" Daddy who insisted on "meeting" any dates brave enough to come around, either. LOL

Regards,

PS: My uncle and his wife are the proud parents of 12 children. They hold the title for "largest single family" in our Family. They lived in a 2 bedroom house, where Aunt and Uncle had one bedroom, the 2 girls had the other, and 10 boys shared a barracks that was created in the basement. The other half of the cellar was the playroom. From watching how that family was run, I have come to the following conclusion: You don't need a mansion, you need ORGANIZATION. Auntie had it in spades.

77 posted on 07/12/2006 1:08:57 PM PDT by VermiciousKnid
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To: Cheverus
5. Feminine mystique goes out the window when you have 5 sisters.

It lands near the MOON when you have 7 daughters.

Take it from me...

78 posted on 07/12/2006 2:33:16 PM PDT by ninenot (Minister of Membership, Tomas Torquemada Gentlemen's Club)
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To: VermiciousKnid; Campion
a teenage girl with experience caring for a younger sibling will think twice, three times, and maybe four or five or six times before hopping into bed with a boyfriend and making a baby of her own

I've often said that nothing puts a young woman off the opposite sex like changing a 3-year-old brother's diapers.

(However, doing laundry and cleaning bathrooms for six males is close.)

79 posted on 07/12/2006 2:50:02 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Have some hyperbolic rodomontade, and nothing worse will happen for the rest of the day!)
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To: ma ja99
>>>>>I'm just not impressed by it.

And I'm not impressed by you.

80 posted on 07/12/2006 8:12:14 PM PDT by Thorin ("I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.")
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Comment #81 Removed by Moderator

To: kstewskis
Too funny.

I don't think the remote was even invented yet... as a matter of fact, we probably still had the old RCA black and white tv. ; )

82 posted on 07/13/2006 4:36:23 AM PDT by Northern Yankee ( Stay The Course!)
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To: NYer

Thanks doe posting this, I have 3 children and that is it for me, I would have loved to have more, but it's not financially feasible for us. Kudos to those that can do it.


83 posted on 07/13/2006 4:39:54 AM PDT by RepubMommy
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To: Salvation
How old were you when you first held a baby? I'm happy to say that I was 7 and helped take care of a younger sister. I considered it an honor and a privilege [to help].

It was the same for me, I have 2 siblings and am the oldest. I was 7 and 9 respectively when the younger two were born. My oldest is 7 years older then the baby and she helps me too. The oldest should help out to some degree, whether it is 2 siblings or 5.

84 posted on 07/13/2006 4:46:52 AM PDT by RepubMommy
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To: Pyro7480

I have a 4 y/o. That is awful, prayers to them and their little angel.


85 posted on 07/13/2006 4:52:24 AM PDT by RepubMommy
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To: Northern Yankee
I don't think the remote was even invented yet... as a matter of fact, we probably still had the old RCA black and white tv. ; )

Who would have thought that the invention of the remote could have coincided with another form of birth control?

Amazing, that.

86 posted on 07/13/2006 10:05:25 AM PDT by kstewskis ("Aim small, miss small...." Benjamin Martin to Nathan and Samuel)
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To: RobbyS
You know what running a dairy entails and grandpop was not up to it. He stayed in the house and had coffee while my Dad handled the cows. For more than ten years my Dad was in charge, and learned be jack of all trades. This served him well and went into the oil field, where he helped support the family by sending half his pay home.

My Grandpa was the opposite! He drove out to the farm every day except Sunday until his 80's. We kind of wished he would stay inside and drink coffee sometimes. When my step Grandma (Grandpa became a double widower) went to the nursing home, he gave that up and spent five years driving to the see her every day. That taught me what love really is.

Farm work is the best preparation for process and construction engineering that I know of. Knowing the right and wrong way to do things like change out augur flighting has served me very well so far.

87 posted on 07/13/2006 11:16:54 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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