For Michigan residents weary of winter, the glory of summer inspires long to-do lists and jam-packed schedules; not a minute of sun-basking grandeur can go to waste! There is camping, lakes to swim, boats to row, sports to play, trips to take, trails to hike, and so much more. We so quickly let our fine-tuned school year schedules unfurl into a frenzied chaos—whatever is most appealing in the moment captures our attention. This can be good in moderation, but it can also distract us from the other gift of summer.
Like a seasonal Sabbath, summer is a built-in, annual opportunity for resting with God, communing, and finding extra spiritual measures that the busyness of the school season doesn’t allow for. If we wish, summer can be like an extended family retreat from the noise of “shoulds,” “woulds” and “coulds” of the rest of the year. We surveyed Detroit parents for ideas about how they keep the faith alive in their homes when school is out for the summer.
“This summer I hope to do a “morning basket,” which is keeping a morning routine with things like Christian-based coloring pages, reading a daily Scripture or just listening to worship music—something that is consistent every morning. The Hallow app has an amazing Kids & Teens section. I also love the Saints Stories podcast. Either of these would be good to listen to whenever you remember or to add to the “morning routine” basket.
Evangelizing by drawing crosses or writing Scripture verses with some sidewalk chalk in front of your house is a great way to get kids outside, and it also lets them practice writing in a fun and creative way.
I recommend reading “How to: Catholic Family” by Tommy Tighe for more ideas. It’s a very practical and funny read.” — Amy Potter Avila, mother of two, St. Mary’s Royal Oak
“Use this time to work on your family prayer space or family altar table at home: add pictures of loved ones who have passed away, art, scripture, saints, or favorite images of Jesus.” —Sarah Hogan, mother of two
“Our days naturally yearn for form, and maybe, like me you can feel like the long days of endless summer pull the rug out from under your feet. Thankfully, the Church, in her wisdom, knows that we crave this form and provides us with many devotions around which we can structure our day—the Liturgy of the Hours (prayed at set hours throughout the day), the Divine Mercy Chaplet (prayed at 3 p.m.) and also the Angelus.
Traditionally, Catholics around the world would pause their work at 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. to pray this simple devotion commemorating the Incarnation. Last spring, my family started praying the Angelus together in the morning, at lunchtime and at dinnertime. It is simple enough that even my smallest children learned the words and rhythms of the prayer, and I can truly tell you that it provided our family with tremendous graces. It gave us just the right amount of structure around which to build our days.” —Adele Paz Collins, mother of 7
“Family rosary every day! We pray the rosary either right before bed or in the car if we need to be somewhere on a particular evening. . My husband or I do the leading and closing prayers, and each family member, including our seven-year-old girl and nine-year-old boy, leads a decade or two for each rosary. When we first started this daily prayer routine, we focused a lot on the Scripture story behind each decade so our children knew what to meditate on. It was a struggle to initiate and can still be at times, but is the most beautiful part of our day as a family.” —Shannon Saul
“We listen to the Saints Stories for Kids podcast and read the Gospel of the day before breakfast. We also try to make meal times when we talk about any faith-related topic.” — Annie Avery, mother of four, St. Peters, Mt. Clemens
“We like to throw saint parties for saints whose feast days are in the summer. This might sound like a lot of work, but it can be as simple as you want, such as getting together with a family or two for a meal or a picnic acknowledging and talking to the kids about the saint.” —Steph Robinson, mother of 3, St. John the Evangelist
“We celebrate lots of summer saint feast days with special foods and desserts. For Junipero Serra on July 1, we make mission style burritos with either chicken or pulled pork to honor when St. Junipero Serra traveled to California. Since he established a mission at Monterey-Carmel, we do ice cream sundaes with caramel sauce for dessert.
St. Lawrence is a favorite because it means anything on the grill (since Lawrence was martyred on the grid-iron) and s’mores for dessert because that day also happens to be national s’more day and my kids love when the marshmallows get all roasted.
I get a lot of ideas from Kendra Tierney’s book, “The Catholic All Year Compendium,” but my husband and I also just like to pair foods with the saints based on where they are from or where they lived out their lives.
I also was prompted by a Walking with Purpose Bible Study to set up something new for the summer. I’ll have my two older kids choose a special prayer notebook and have set time for them to journal in it while my youngest is napping. Since my kids are still young, they may do more picture journaling than actual writing, but we will see. — Lisa Burek, mother of 3, St. John Neumann, Canton
“I like gardening outside with my family. Common flowers and herbs have special Marian names, based on their symbolism in gardens. Consider planting a Marian Garden with potted plants where you can retreat to pray and communicate with God during the day? Our Lady, like any mother, loves us for even our most simple and childlike efforts. Research the Marian name of your favorite flower or herb in order to incorporate it into your garden.
The production and order of a lush fruit or vegetable garden can bring a family great pride, peace, and love. There are many books and resources about the best fruits and vegetables to grow in your planting zone.” — Mike Lerchenfeldt, father of two
- *Get more inspo for your Marian garden here.
“We love the Bible stories on the Crossroads Kids Club YouTube channel; my kids have learned so much from them. Our morning routine is to watch a Bible story and then say a quick prayer that ties in whatever we learned about God. For example, today we watched Elijah and asked that God helps us learn to quiet our hearts so we can hear him. — Stephanie Quesnelle, mother of three, Shrine Parish
“I hope to take my boys to Mass during the week. I know many churches have a midday Mass on Wednesday, so we’ll pack a lunch for afterwards and have a picnic outside the church, or hit up a local park right after (and of course continue going to Mass on Sundays)!” —Amy Avila
“This summer we are starting over with the Saints Alive podcast. I’m adding weekly Adoration and daily Mass to the plan also. I’d love to find some sort of kids journal that helps them to dig a little into their faith—maybe something that we could do together.” —Angel Lichy, mother of two, Our Lady of Good Counsel
“I would try to attend Assumption Grotto on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15. Weather-permitting, they have 7 pm Mass at the outdoor Grotto and it is unlike anything you could experience. The Sunday noon Masses are also outdoors, weather-permitting, at the shrine in the back of the cemetery—usually with a full choir with benediction after Mass. As a product of the 1980s after-school CCD program, I never knew what benediction was until I attended this parish. If you don’t know what benediction is I encourage you to put that on your summer itinerary. — Julie Lawrence Williams, mother of four, Assumption Grotto
“We’re planning a trip to the Solanus Casey Center and to the Divine Mercy Center with friends this summer. We plan to do a little pilgrimage—go to confession, get lunch at the bakery.” — Susan Viviano
“We love mini-pilgrimages. The kids and I took adventures to one church a week on Thursdays. We would try to catch their daily Mass, and then if I knew a priest/employee there, we asked for a little tour. It was a great way to see area churches and spend time together during the summer.” — Mary Wilkerson, mother of 5, Divine Child parish, Dearborn
- *Get some ideas of churches to visit here.
“There are CYO camps in Lexington. I went there a couple years ago with my girls for a long weekend, the boys have a separate camp. That was a lot of fun as well and very inexpensive.” — Julie Williams
- *Also check out Camp Sancta Maria
“For the last three summers, we have attended a summer Catholic Family getaway for our family vacation. These trips involve typical vacation stuff like dancing, pool time, ice-cream trips, hiking, ice cream trips (not a typo!) and biking. However, we also had the opportunity to celebrate Mass, pray a rosary daily, attend spiritual talks and have group dinners with other Catholic families. These trips made for fantastic memories. Being Catholic and having fun were not mutually exclusive.” — Marry Murray, mother of four
For parents overwhelmed with the wealth of ideas and unsure where to start or how to structure their new summer normal, 52 Sundays is an incredible resource for parents to help them reclaim Sunday as a day set apart for Jesus. It has weekly family reflections, activities, recipes, and more.