Saturday, March 17, 2012

Family Night–St. Patrick’s Style

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For several years now in our home, Friday evenings have been set aside as “Family Night,” but just recently, we decided to start giving these evenings a more intentionally crafted structure. I’m going to be honest, I first got the idea from the Mormons, who have what they call a “Family Home Evening” on Monday nights. Say what you will about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints—they’re statistics for passing the faith on to the next generation stagger every other religious group in America, and I see nothing wrong with taking a leaf out of their book!

Personally, I wasn’t wild about the idea of trying to squeeze some quality “down” time at the end of a busy Monday, which is a major chore day for me and a usually a trouble-shooting day for my husband at work—not to mention the beginning of the school week. But I loved the idea of night set aside to intentionally cherish family togetherness and focus on passing on the faith to our kids.

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Of course, quality family time and faith sharing can (and should!) happen any day of the week. Still, I think there is something to be said for setting aside a special time to really focus on these areas, carving out a sacred space in our week to really hone in on what’s important and what makes our family what it is.

I borrowed unrepentantly from the LDS model in planning our family nights, at least as far as structure goes. We begin with an opening song or hymn, followed by prayer and passage of Scripture. Then, we have a lesson and an activity, and we close our time in prayer.

Here is what our Family Night schedule looked like for this past Friday, which happened to fall on the Eve of St. Patrick’s Day:

Opening Song (Brian)
“Be Thou My Vision”

Opening Prayer (Bethany)
St. Patrick’s “Prayer for the Faithful” Bethany

Scripture Reading (Brian)
Matthew 28:16-20

Lesson (Bethany & James – James helps by gathering materials)

  • Teach about the life of St. Patrick
  • Read Tomie dePaola’s Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland begins.)
  • Questions:
    • What do you think it would be like to live in a country where nobody knew about God?
    • Which person of God do you feel closest to: the Father, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?
    • Do you know who the other two persons of the Trinity are? How do you think you can come to know God better through these two persons?
    • St. Patrick used the Shamrock to explain about God to the Irish people. How would you choose to tell other people about God?

Activity All (children help by cutting out and collecting materials)
Make trinity shamrocks 

  • 2 green paper shamrocks
  • 2 red paper hearts
  • 2 white paper doves
  • 2 yellow or brown paper crosses
  • Black permanent marker

Closing Prayer (Sophia)
“Irish Blessing”

Another recommendation from the LDS website that I loved was the idea of a “planning wheel” so that every member of the family, from the youngest on up, gets a chance to help in preparing the evening. After all, the more involved our children are in their family and faith—the more their contributions matter—the more likely they will be to internalize family and faith values for themselves.

Family Night is just one idea of how to invest in your family and the faith of your children. If it’s not right for you, that’s fine. The important thing isn’t how you invest in your family, but that you do something to intentionally strengthen ties and impart the teachings of the faith.

What are some ways you and/or your spouse have chosen to invest in your family and in the faith of your children?


  1. Wow! That sounds like a fun, very creative quality time with family evening! My husband and I have taken to doing the daily readings together and attending daily Mass, and it's really changed our relationship.

  2. Yeah for Family Home Evening (or whatever you want to call it :) it really does make such a big difference in our family. My husband and I usually pray together on Sunday nights to know what lesson our children need that week. Sometimes it is crazy and wild but I am always amazed at how much they actually hear. I love your ideas for teaching about St. Patrick-- I know it is sad but it didn't occur to me until this year that St. Patrick's day was about a Saint. I think that will change the whole focus of the day for us.


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