I was born after World War II in Germany in 1952.
My parents and grandparents are very devout Catholics and strongly influenced me when I was growing up.
Then, when I was old enough to work, I did my training in the hospitality industry.
This meant that I was working on Sundays and feast days.
I used to profess that I was Catholic but at the time I did nothing about it.
I came to Australia as an adult and met my wife Maria-Luise here.
My then future father-in-law told me that if I wanted to date his daughter, I had to go to church with them.
Maria-Luise has always lived like this. So that was how I got back into my faith. We married in 1989 and have four children.
Nicholas will be 20 in May. He has just joined St Charles’ Seminary in Guildford, I am very pleased to say.
Then there are Stephanie (19), Alexander (16) and Maximilian (14).
For the first four years of our marriage, we had no children and this gave us time to work out how best to raise them to be good Catholics.
I am involved now in business but my faith and my family are my priorities.
From day one, we have been living our faith with our children.
We pray a German prayer in the morning that includes us, our loved ones and the people around us and we have our daily activities blessed.
When we share a meal together we say prayers to bless our food and a Hail Mary.
We have a routine for our evening prayers and the children lead it so they know it better than we do.
On Monday, we have the prayer to St Michael and again we include our families, our loved ones and our daily activities.
Every day we include the souls in Purgatory. We have got some special cases of need in our family, like my brother in Germany. He needs God’s strength.
We include those who think they don’t need God. On Tuesdays we have a special devotion to the Sacred Heart.
Then on Wednesday is the Rosary for the souls that have been born and are to be baptised and the souls that died without baptism, so that they can all come to the Father’s loving heart.
On Thursday we pray to 14 saints revered in Germany. There is a beautiful basilica near my parents’ place where they are said to have appeared to a shepherd boy.
On Fridays, we do the Stations of the Cross. On Saturdays, we do a devotion to Mary and on Sundays, we do particular prayers for the Holy Souls of Purgatory as well as go to Mass.
At the moment I am teaching them to say the daily Angelus at 12 noon and a minute of remembrance when Christ died at 3pm.
We are parishioners at St Mary’s Cathedral and if we can’t make it to the Cathedral we attend All Saints Parish in Greenwood.
I go to All Saints on Saturdays to say the Rosary in front of the Blessed Sacrament and my children go to Reconciliation.
I make the midday Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral during the weekdays. The boys have been altar servers for the last 10 years and know the Mass off by heart.
They know the Gloria; they know the Confiteor; they know the Creed. They know all of these because we pray it ourselves and we go to church. It becomes their second nature.
We found from the time they were babies, all our children loved routine, structure and boundaries. When they rebel, they are only searching for where the boundaries are.
If you want your children to follow your faith, you have to start early. We started from the day they were born. They never missed a Sunday Mass except for once during a school camp.
They have never missed a holy day of obligation. School activities or holiday activities all come second to these days.
We have holy water near our door in our house so people can bless themselves with it and protect themselves from all temptations.
We have a shrine in the centre of our house that we call our altar which is devoted to Jesus and Mary.
That’s where we all kneel and do our morning and evening prayers. We have fresh flowers and candles there. Stephanie looks after that.
One of the big topics in our house is life. What am I going to do with my life? Where am I going? What’s life all about? We have fantastic dinner discussions.
Most of them are based on religion and morality. How do you talk to your children about sin? You start with right and wrong and then you talk about Jesus Christ who died for our sins.
One of the things that our children are very aware of is eternal life. We made the distinction between heaven and hell very simple. Be eternally happy or eternally unhappy.
When they were around the age of five we would start having these conversations. It helps them to make choices and to go to confession.
We have made it our practice to invite priests into our house and that makes for some interesting discussions too. They hear them say what we say and it is like a confirmation.
My wife doesn’t often like to hear me say this, but I think children are a reflection of you.
Sometimes I wish that wasn’t true! I find that when there are things about your children that you don’t like, you will often find that they are things you don’t like about yourself.
Now they are in their teens I must say that I am very happy with the way they handle themselves. Rather than being influenced by peer pressure, we have found that a lot of the students have sided with them.
They are popular at school and have high self esteem. Our children are all black belts and above in martial arts. A healthy body contains a healthy mind.
They are very strong in their beliefs and they stand up for their beliefs. It is because we are that way and they can see the difference.
We spend all our time with the children and they are involved in whatever we are doing. For your children to be devout, I think you have to ask yourself, “Do I believe?”
Do you believe in Christ’s Passion and the Resurrection? Do you believe that Christ is the son of the Father? Do you believe in what’s written in the Bible?
Do you believe in the Real Presence of God in the Church? If you can say yes to questions like those, then you can’t help but live your faith.
And if you live it, then your children will too – it’s simple.