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The Final Word: Making Catholic Memories

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with Marianne & Wayne Topp

Growing up, Marianne’s parents were known for throwing great parties. Perhaps the most famous was their Easter party. This wasn’t the late Sunday morning brunch you’re used to; it was a party to end all parties. It’s well known that during Lent, Catholics fast from meat, favorite foods or perhaps even bad habits. So, the moment Easter arrives, they are ready to celebrate the Risen Lord with great enthusiasm and excitement, as they finally enjoy some of their favorite treats. At midnight on Easter morning, Marianne’s family would open their doors for the biggest celebration of the year. There was always food galore and any beverage you desired. The promise was that, at this party, you would be able to indulge in whatever you gave up for Lent (except the bad habits). The party would go into the wee hours of the morning. Singing, laughing, celebrating… sometimes late enough to pick up the morning paper on the way home.

Fast forward nearly 20 years. We have now been married for 15 years and have seven children of our own. We decided very early in our marriage that we wanted our lives to be marked by the same joy and enthusiasm for Catholic life as those extravagant Easter parties.

As newlyweds, we started simple. We invited our friends to join in the fun of her parents’ tradition. Then, we began to throw our own festive Mardi Gras party, marked by homemade crepes and cream puffs (and anything else we were about to give up for Lent). As the Lord blessed us with children, we began to realize the limitless opportunities for Catholics to celebrate throughout the year!

We began to celebrate our children’s feast days with gusto! On the feast of St. Justin, patron of public speakers, we got out our karaoke machine; on the feast of St. Lydia, dyer of purple cloth, we got out a tie dye kit; on the feast of St. Martin of Tours, we roasted s’mores over a bonfire (because it’s a German tradition to celebrate the end of Fall on St. Martin’s Day with a fire). As more children came along, we discovered more amazing baked goods, delicious and eclectic foods, and various cultural traditions. Today, at least 14 days out of the year, we celebrate the lives of the saints for whom each of our children are named (each of our kids has a patron for both their first and middle names).

Celebrating our faith this way has helped develop a love and excitement for Catholic traditions in all of our children, and that motivates us to constantly search for more opportunities to bring Catholic fun into our home. This year, because we had extra time on our hands resulting from the stay at home order, we added some traditions we had never tried before.

We made a paper mâché tomb for Good Friday, and celebrated the month of May with lavender cookies for Mary. We even found recipes for baking rolls that are meant to remind us of Judas’ betrayal! All the while, we’ve discovered that, as we attempt to create memories with our children, we continue to learn and grow in our love for the faith we both inherited from our parents.

Our celebrations are not always extravagant, and sometimes they are as simple as giving our child some flowers, letting that child pick what to have for dinner, or meeting up with their godparents for ice cream. The process is simple: we look at the Catholic calendar we get from our parish every year to find an upcoming feast day and celebrate with flare! We may not be known for hosting the “biggest celebration of the year,” but in our children’s eyes, we are certainly known for having the most fun and making the best Catholic memories.

have been married 15 years and have seven children. They live in Cincinnati. Wayne is the Managing Director for Young Adult Evangelization and Discipleship and has been working for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for the past 13 years. Marianne is a registered nurse and stay at home mom. The two love spending time baking, cooking and making Catholic memories with their kids.

This article appeared in the July Edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here

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