News Story

Families of Different Religions Share Why Faith Matters

Six families of different religions were asked to articulate the part that faith plays in their lives. Although their faith traditions vary greatly, these families have many things in common. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints applauds families who exemplify the best qualities of their faith and reach out in service to their communities.

Heather and Les Fenyes have three children ages 22 to 25. Heather says, “Judaism is the core of the values that have formed both the direction of my life and the shape of my family — who I am and what I do are inseparable from my Jewishness.” She considers Shabbat (Sabbath) to be the single greatest influence on her family. “I think Shabbat — with its prayer, song, food and togetherness — is the strongest visceral memory we carry as a family. I have always been involved in my local synagogue and believe strongly in the emphasis Judaism places on community.” Sharing traditional food and hospitality allows her to build new relationships with different faith communities.

Colm and Sharon Leyne are parents of two young children. “Our personal relationship with Jesus Christ is vital — the foundation of our family,” they say. “When we are intentional about working on our faith with prayer and deepening our relationship with God, there is a clear difference in our home, mainly that of a sense of peace. As Catholics, the eucharist is the centre from which everything stems. Our understanding of mass is what nourishes and strengthens us and reminds us how much God loves us. We go [to mass] because God and the community lift us up. It’s not just what happens in the church; it’s about carrying it with us into our home and out in the world.”

Charles McKay, from the Red Earth First Nation, is a single father with three daughters ages 8 to 16. He believes his family is grounded by their cultural traditions and the Christian beliefs of the Anglican Church. “Our traditions influence the family to have faith in something greater than themselves,” he says. “The Creator guides you, teaches you and gives you strength.” At each stage of his daughters’ lives, McKay performs a brief ceremony to give them a blessing of guidance from their Creator. He is proud of his culture and Cree language and shares with his girls the life challenges he has faced. He says, “I am grounding them with the faith that the Creator is there to guide us.”

Muhammad and Nabila Butt have three daughters ages 15, 17 and 22. “In our family, we try to connect ourselves and our kids to God and the prophet Muhammad,” state the Butts. “Our five daily prayers are like meditation. Each prayer recharges you for the world. Reading from the Qur’an gives us a clear perspective on what we should and should not be doing.” To the Butts and the Muslim community, mosques are central for daily prayers and weekly services. Describing the importance of charity, Nabila says, “I believe our main purpose on earth is to help others. Every day we must give something from us to our fellow beings. This has an amazing effect on a person’s soul.”

Heather and Bernie Cardin are parents of three grown children. “We strongly espouse the values of our Baha’i faith, including the principles of unity in diversity, the equality of men and women and the equality and unity between all religions of the one God,” they say. They share family prayer and study from several holy books, memorizing passages. The Cardins follow the Baha’i calendar and participate as a community in such events as Ridvan, which commemorates their founder, Baha’u’llah. The Cardins’ faith helps them focus on service. They add, “We truly see humanity as one.”

Alicia Walter is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is raising six children on her own after the death of her husband. “Having faith unifies and strengthens our family,” she states. The Walters were married in a Mormon temple. Mormons believe these marriages are eternal in nature. Walter says, “I have felt Ryan nearby many times since his passing, and I know we are still a family and he still looks out for us.” The Walters begin each day by reading scriptures and praying together. On Sunday they partake of the sacrament to covenant with God to keep His commandments and remember His Son.

These parents are all devoted to their faith. Through their teaching and examples, they are raising their children to be committed, caring, civic-minded individuals who contribute to the world around them.

Quentin L. Cook, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, counsels, “I challenge all of us to work with people of other faiths to improve the moral fabric of our communities, nations, and world and to protect religious freedom” (“Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom,” Ensign, Sept. 2012).

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.