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There are plenty of twists, turns and bumps on the path to holiness. We can’t go it alone. But through the guidance of Christ, the saints, our communities, family, friends and other Catholics, we can help each other stay on track and grow as disciples. In our Pursuing Holiness Q&A series, we ask Catholics of all ages and backgrounds to answer your questions about faith and discipleship.  

Here, Tim and Maggie Glemkowski of Denver, Colorado bring you insights on discipleship, faith, parenting, marriage and perseverance. Tim and Maggie have two kids, ages three and one. Maggie is a nurse with a heart for mission work and Tim founded L’Alto Catholic Institute, a national apostolate that works with parishes to help form disciples. As a family, they love to travel and take hikes in the mountains.

Q1: What’s the best way to evangelize without coming across as a jerk?

Maggie: Always lead with a relationship. Get to know the other person, ask questions and listen. Even in tough conversations, by validating the other and being compassionate to their experience, you can disagree with lifestyle or moral beliefs without coming across as a jerk. Each person’s story is so unique, and taking time to understand what they are ready for in terms of hearing the Gospel is important — maybe a dialogue in which you help the other understand specific teachings of the Church is what is needed in a given situation, and perhaps in another what is called for is simply to be kind and consistent. Invest in the person.

As a nurse, I have had the opportunity to encounter people in all walks of life. With coworkers, I’ve been able to build relationships that allow for deeper conversations around my decision to follow Church teaching (for example, not living with Tim before we got married was a topic I got a lot of questions about!). Often with patients, though, if the topic turns to questions about religion, I’ve found it enough to let the person know I’m sorry for any hurt they have received related to the topic, and to share that I believe the Lord loves them and wants their good.

Q2: How do you consistently bring your family together around prayer and the sacraments?

Tim: Maggie and I recently had some in-depth conversations on this very topic! We both grew up in traditional Catholic homes, with a primary emphasis on the traditional Catholic devotional life for family prayer. While we both very much value each of those aspects of faith, we also felt called to teach our kids how to talk to Jesus from the heart.

Maggie: A couple of months ago we started to pray as a family for ten minutes each evening, asking Christ to come into our hearts, and just putting before Him our intentions and thanksgivings for the day, in a way that isn’t overly structured or thought-out. We just share our hearts out loud with our Father.

Tim: Adding this kind of prayer into our family routine has allowed for the faith to be a natural part of our life; even though our daughter is only three, we’ve seen a difference in the attention she pays at mass, the questions she asks about God, etc.

Each person’s story is so unique, and taking time to understand what they are ready for in terms of hearing the Gospel is important

Maggie Glemkowski

Q3: How can I help my kids grow in the faith without being too forceful?

Tim: Live a well-integrated life! Lead by example. Do they see you taking intentional time for prayer each day, being generous in conversation about others, and trying to live a healthy lifestyle? Expose them to things that will give them a love for life — adventure, music, natural beauty, good friends. Teach them that the Christian life is one that is full and vibrant, that pursuit of God and virtue will deepen their joy. Each person will ultimately make their own decisions to follow or not to follow Christ, but modeling the joy that comes from being a disciple is one of the best ways you can guide your kids to continue to choose Him.

One practical way we have tried to do this is to just speak openly about our own prayer lives and experience of faith, to talk about the ways that Christ has actually impacted our lives. I love telling stories and testimonies are a powerful way that people learn about the fact that Jesus is alive and active, so it seems to make sense to also share those testimonies with our kids!

Q4: What keeps you Catholic these days?

Tim: At the end of the day, I am Catholic because I believe it is true. I believe that this is the Church that Jesus Christ founded and that there are very good intellectual and scriptural reasons to believe so. The Sacraments are beautiful and privileged occasions to encounter God and His love. For me, though my heart is broken, I have never been tempted to doubt that this is God’s Church. If anything, it just makes me even more convicted about the need for renewal! As my mom always said, “Spit out the poison! Bring things to the Light!”

At the end of the day, I am Catholic because I believe it is true.

Tim Glemkowski

Q5: How do you avoid comparing yourself to other Catholic couples and families?

Maggie: The comparison game is hard to not fall into. Being around other families or couples that inspire and make you want to grow is a great thing! The trick is to not become jealous or critical of yourselves or the other couple. Having a spirit of gratitude for the unique gifts God has given you is key in this, and allows you the self-confidence to recognize areas of needed growth in yourself from a positive stance.

Tim: Cool moment recently that helped with this. At the prompting of a friend, I took the Clifton Strengths Finder test for the first time. Going over my results really affirmed that idea of each person having strengths and gifts specific to them. Instead of letting the differences that exist between persons lead to a competitive feeling of something lacking in one party, focusing on that idea of unique strengths lets those differences become a positive thing. We’ve actually found that the Strengths Finder test has been beneficial to our marriage as well, as there are a number of ways that Maggie and I differ quite a bit! It’s helped us to appreciate our differences in a more tangible way.