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It Takes A Parish to Raise a Child and Other Lessons Children Teach Us
By Diane Wilczak

In her recent best seller, It Takes A Village, Hilary Rodham Clinton idealizes a model of community which not so many years ago served as the nurturing environment that many of us grew up in, but for the most part seems to be extinct in these days of broadband, handheld devices and Anytime Minutes. It was that time and place where children were allowed to be children, and enjoyed being children well into their teen years without assuming adult pressures, habits, problems, or woes, and without being targeted and bombarded as a lucrative consumer market. It was a time of school and of play, daily chores and weekly allowances. It was a time when adults were respected just for the fact that they were adults, and old folks were respected on an even greater scale for the grandeur of their age. It was a time and a place where adults felt a sense of mutual responsibility, just because they were adults. There was a responsibility toward family, church, neighbors, employers and the overall well being of the community.

Responsible adults were supportive of each other's efforts; they were not afraid to set a neighbor's mischievous child straight, and then follow up their action with a phone call to the child's parents relating the reprimand, so as nine out of ten times there would be another dose of reckoning waiting at home. Life's lessons were passed along from the old to the young with purpose, through repetition, tradition and by example. For all practical purposes, the neighborhood was an extended family.

This communal extended family concept seems to be lost on society these days, and I am sorry to say that I seriously doubt that it can ever make a strong neighborhood comeback in an age where the word communication means digital accessibility, where mobility means relocating every year or two, and what passes for meaningful relationships are all too often virtual in nature. Yet, let us not grieve, all is not lost. I have found the elusive extended family to be quite alive and well, and thriving wholeheartedly, right here, within Saint Luke parish.

For what is this parish if not our spiritual neighborhood? It is the place we settle upon to make our own, call our own, put down roots and build upon, surrounded by friends and neighbors, likeminded and supportive in common union - the living, breathing, community of Christ. In this wonderful neighborhood we are all children, and we are all adults.

As children of God we are allowed to live without fear, without worry or woe, knowing that our well-being is within the merciful hands of our Father. Jesus bids us to be as children, to live and to learn with open eyes, open minds, and open hearts. As a former elementary school teacher and a mother, I have seen the world though the eyes of children, and I believe that I understand the beautiful simplicity and joy which Jesus wishes for all of us, if only we can find the courage to put aside all the baggage which adulthood heaps upon us. Then, as children, we may best follow His living example of unconditional love.

As adults in our parish we are responsible for nurturing and supporting the well being of our spiritual neighborhood, our extended family, and although we may not always be together, we are never apart. We are bound by our faith, our history and our traditions. Through the years I have sought both strength and solace within this parish, and I have never been left wanting.

So no, Hilary, it doesn't take a village to raise a child, it takes a special parish.

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