While broadcasting from the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, Father Dave welcomes Grammy-nominated composer and performer Sarah Hart to discuss her workshop, “Spiritual Not Religious: Parenting and Mentoring in a New Era of Faith.”
She describes her work as an itinerant minister, saying, “I really get to see the Church all over the place and how it looks different from place to place, and it’s really beautiful. You get to see that universal Church.” Sarah continues, “The interesting thing to me about the Church is that a lot of people who are Catholic think, Well, this is the way it should be, this is what we should do…and that kind of throws out cultural sensitivity. And it throws out even geographical sensitivity.”
“Our Catholicism and the Eucharist is what binds us together. But to remain in a place where we can be culturally sensitive, geographically sensitive to different areas of the country, and the way that a specific people worship in their faith community? That is really important to our Catholic faith, and I wish that we talked about that more,” she says.
Sarah discusses the topic of her LA Congress workshop, which was partially inspired by her two daughters. She says, “I have raised my children in Church, I’ve taken them to confession, they’ve had all the sacraments. They have gone with me to Mass all their lives, and they are now at a point where they don’t want to go to Church. But they pray all the time, we talk about God all the time. And we have had so many conversations about this where they have explained to me, ‘Mom, you have to understand, it’s a thing for so much of our generation. There’s a lot that we’re not seeing represented about us in our faith.’ And that’s difficult, and they’re very open with me about it.”
She explains, “I do a lot of parish missions and women’s retreats, and probably the number one thing I hear from people afterwards is, ‘Hey, please pray for me, my kid won’t go to church.’ And I just kind of go, ‘Hey, my mine won’t either!’ So it’s an encouragement to people who are so consistently worried that their kids are lost. And the point is that it’s all about trust. We either do trust that the Lord has our children in his hands, or we don’t.”
Father Dave points out one aspect of her workshop, which discusses both parenting and mentoring. He says, “Rarely have I seen those two addressed together. Because sometimes we think, ‘Well, I’m the parent, and they’ll find somebody else who’s a mentor,’ or these are separate realms. But you’re inviting parents to also find that role of mentor.”
Sarah replies, “It is a human thing that we love to compartmentalize, and I think that people often say, ‘Well, I’m my child’s parent, I’m not their friend.’ And I’m like, ‘why can’t you be both?’ In a perfect world, you should be mentor, you should be friend, you should be spiritual guide, you should be mother, you should be father. So I don’t think we need to compartmentalize parenting and mentoring, I think those things go hand in hand.”
She describes how many of her most meaningful conversations with her kids happen in an unlikely place: the car. “I think there’s something psychological about…that we weren’t looking at each other, we were talking to each other. So that’s where all the most sacred, beautiful, sacramental conversations happened in rearing my children was in the car,” Sarah says. “What I would say to parents is to create a space, whatever it is, however it looks in your life. Just create a space where your kid knows they’re safe to talk to you. You’re not going to go tell everybody else how they feel, but that they’re safe in this space to talk to you. And what they say, stays there.”