SummaryAdele Darnowski shares how, as a young pro-life missionary, she had a watershed moment with a Seton Home School family that would change her life later on.
How did we come to homeschool?
When I was 18 years old, single, and fancy free, I joined a pro-life missionary group led by a lovely priest — Fr. Norman Weslin.
We travelled about doing pro-life work and sometimes going to jail for praying the rosary outside the abortion mills.
I learned so much about prayer and community during that time. I learned how to recite the Liturgy of the Hours and sing the Salve Regina. This knowledge has stayed with me to this day.
Also, I came to see and be amazed by the beautiful pro-life families out there. The love and generosity of those people repeatedly blessed us. They would take us into their own homes and sponsor us when we would visit their cities and towns.
In one particular home, I had a watershed moment I had no idea would change my life later on, as this lovely Catholic family with many children used Seton to homeschool. I flipped through one of the elementary grade history books on their coffee table and found the story about Christopher Columbus and the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. After many years of Catholic education in Canada, I had NO IDEA that Christopher Columbus was Catholic and that he had a ship named after Our Lady.
There and then I said, “If I ever get married and have children, I will use Seton.” It was like a calling card from God. I even wrote down the Seton address. I didn’t meet and marry my spouse until 14 years later. I purchased the Seton Kindergarten program when my son was only 18 months old, and I held it in safe keeping until he was ready.
My husband grew up as an only child as his parents struggled with infertility. School was always a difficult place for my husband, even though he was a budding genius. Others were often jealous of his academic success, and the Faith was not taught very well in the Catholic schools he attended.
His mother taught him from a Baltimore catechism she found and guarded as a treasure after she came across it on a newsstand in the New York City subway. She too knew a treasure when she found one, and so she socked it away in case she would ever have a child.
When Doug was born, she taught him well out of this prized book. If one bad book can spoil a whole convent of nuns, one good book can bring untold blessings and affect whole generations!
While my husband’s Dad was very concerned about his son’s education and the passing along of the Faith, he was very reticent to homeschooling. He was worried about socialization.
Doug went instead to Evangelical schools and had to fight to defend his Faith against teachers and students who tried to “convert” him. It made him very strong in his Faith, though he really would not recommend this route to parents, as it was painful and lonely. Perhaps it was something akin to what St. Therese felt when she begged to be taught at home as a young lady.
What’s a typical homeschool day like in our home?
Our homeschool day starts at six a.m. when my self-starting twelve-year old gets himself up and makes breakfast. Depending on Mass time, we try to get to work as early as we can, while people are fresh.
We try to stick to a fairly rigid schedule, similar to that of a happy monastery: prayer, work, meals, and play. Our quiet time is from 1:00p.m. – 3:00p.m. and early bedtimes for the children are important. On Fridays, we have a little field trip in the afternoon if all of the work is completed.
What has helped us in homeschooling over the years?
Several resources that have helped me in my homeschool journey are:
- A friend who told me she has quiet time for every child every day from 1:00 –3:00.
- Dr. Mary Kay Clark’s book Catholic Homeschooling.
- Ginny Seuffert’s discipline and homeschool suggestions and her quip “Early and often.”
- Dr. Ray Guarendi’s disciplining secrets as outlined in his books.
- Phil Lenahan’s 5 Steps to Financial Freedom.
- A final resource I loved early on was A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot.
Have there been challenges in our homeschool?
Our greatest challenges to homeschooling have come from outside the home: worries about the world and what’s going to happen, as well as financial worries.
These stresses seem to come into our home and disrupt our peace and our schedule. The devil wants to steal, kill, and destroy, after all. He would like you and me to give up and to feel so badly about ourselves that we cave to whatever will take us away from our duty of the moment.
“But in all these things we overcome, because of him that hath loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
Other big helps include: family meetings, children doing chores, weekly date night (usually in home) for Mom and Dad, praying a daily rosary, Mass and weekly confession. We pray the family rosary whenever we get into the car, even if we’ve already said one. Keep things simple! Stay home more instead of doing other activities.
If there are lessons to be learned from our story, they may be:
- Marry a good, holy man even if you must wait many years to find him.
- A year of mission work for an older teen might be an invaluable learning experience!
- Keep those Seton History books around; you may have a stray eighteen-year-old who picks one up to read it!
- It takes tremendous courage to keep going; if you feel weak, borrow Our Lady’s courage and the courage of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
We love Seton because it is academically challenging, wonderfully and faithfully Catholic, simple, yet beautifully disciplined. It is a beautiful gift to the Church and the world.
Thank you, Ann and Warren Carroll, for founding Seton, and Dr. Mary Kay Clark for all you have done and endured to make Seton what it is today. It’s a little miracle in a dark world! We love you.