Parenting entails joys and challenges. A common concern for Christian parents who have to work on those two-fold factors — how to bring up their children religiously (instilling the gift of faith) and civilly (to be good and responsible citizens) — is a herculean task.
PUBLISHED ONJan 2020
Vieser Cirunay and Carina, hailing from Quezon City in Metro Manila, are parents who try to impart both faith and social values to their three young children. They belong to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Diliman, Cubao Diocese. “Ours is not an ideal family, but we make determined efforts to achieve ongoing perfections in all things daily, in what we are and what we do individually and collectively, with God’s grace for one another and others,” Vieser, a 59- year-old professional electrical engineer, told World Mission.
He and Carina married 29 years ago. Vieser, a businessman, hails from Davao del Sur (Mindanao) Southern Philippines and Carina, 57, a homemaker, comes from Misamis Oriental, Northern Mindanao. Both met in Manila; Vieser was working in a construction firm, while she was training with formerly known RBS TV Channel 7 (now GMA Network). Years later, they married on December 29, 1990.
When asked about the role of faith in their lives, both said in unison, “We came from deeply religious practicing families. Our parents and grandparents were active in church services and programs. They worked hard to support and educate us. They prayed incessantly for the family.
The faith, values, and principles of our family members have impacted us immensely,” Vieser recalls. For him, these were the major contributions of his grandparents in his life as a young person and later as an adult.
During a certain period of his life Vieser was drawn to “Ananda Marga Yoga” (an organization to propagate the path of bliss) in Manila and he practiced their way of meditation for two years. There was even an invitation to worship other gods at the sideline of practicing yoga, but he did not budge.
“My belief in Christ remained intact. I give my parents and grandparents credit for my strong faith. When your family members are religious, their words and actions influence you so much.”
Meanwhile, the construction firm Vieser worked for closed down and he had to face hard times. After some ordeals, he began his own company in 1985. By the time he married Carina, he was already financially stable to begin a family.
In the case of Carina, she was active in church services at an early age like her parents, especially in music ministry which she continues even today as a lector and singer. In due course, they joined the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP), a Catholic charismatic renewal group, and rendered their service in music ministry.
Sailing together as a couple through many challenges, they are blessed with two daughters (Cari Vie Mari, 22 and Pia Vie Mari, 17) and a son (Ivan, 21). Cari is a college graduate and is already working at her father’s firm. The two younger children are continuing their education.
Transmission Of Faith
One of the family requirements from the beginning has been to attend Masses on Sundays, days of obligation, and other important occasions, besides recitation of the family rosary. “When the kids were younger, we prayed the rosary daily. When they were growing up, due to their school and work of Vieser, we would miss praying the daily rosary together,” Carina said.
“However, I attended Mass and prayed the rosary daily no matter what.” The parents would invite their children to attend Christian Life Programs, recollections and retreats, which were a big help for the family to continually know and love God.
More importantly, Vieser and Carina would bring their children to BCBP’s events, programs and projects (community service), so that they could get to learn how to work for others and develop compassion for people in need as an act of one’s faith. They also introduced their kids to Pro-Active Loving Servants of the Lord (PALS), a sister organization of BCBP that is meant for the children of BCBP members.
“PALS gave them a platform to put faith in action as young people and practice compassion and commitment,” said Carina. PALS and BCBP enable parents and their children to share their time, talent and treasure in the best way they can in an altruistic way.
Time For Others
Besides transmitting religious tenets, moral standards, and spiritual values explicitly and implicitly to their children as Catholic parents, another important commitment of Vieser and Carina has been in the formation of human values, like choosing their friends carefully and inculcating good habits. “To do good and be good” spring from one’s relation with God and neighbors, the couple stresses.
“We make efforts to accompany our children in their lives as mentors and exemplars. We find time for each other, especially during meals,” adds Vieser. When their children make mistakes, the couple lovingly correct and guide them, sometimes with an iron fist. All these are done to make them good, responsible, and resilient persons. “What is important is that they need to realize what is good and bad, and they learn to grow as self-motivated persons,” explains Carina.
To nurture and cherish values and principles of life, the home must be a cradle of love, affection, and compassion. “This is what we attempt to make our home, despite our human frailties, with God’s grace,” Carina reiterates. Children need to learn to be free, independent and responsible for their actions in life.
“We pray for our children and support them in the best way we can afford so that they become the best persons they want to be in life,” Carina added. They are concerned for their children like other parents in the world. They entrust them to God to bless them.
Back To One’s Roots
Vieser and Carina were born and brought up in the provinces, and are now living and working in Manila. Their children were born and are currently living in the city. To bridge this urban and rural divide, it is a practice to return with their children to their maternal and paternal grandparents’ homes during vacations. “We bring our children to our ancestral homes so that they know their roots.”
These visits and interactions with their relatives and neighbors back in the provinces give the opportunity to their children to experience the ‘rural touch.’ “It is good to know their roots, especially how people in the provinces live their lives and practice their faith,” says Vieser.
To validate some insights of the parents’ impact on their children, World Mission talked to Cari, the eldest daughter, and Ivan, their son. When asked about her parents’ role in their lives, Cari points out, “First of all, our parents are good role models for us. They influence us to be responsible. They encourage us to join PALS with which we grew up participating in BCBP.”
For Ivan, it is more of a personal impact. “I have imbibed several values from my parents. They inspire us to make use of our resources prudently,” he says. For example, parents tell him and his siblings not to buy expensive brands even if they could afford them. “We learn the value of compassion and respect for life in participating in our parents’ programs and in all that they do for us and others. We learn to empathize with others’ plight and express our solidarity.”
Parents’ words and deeds reinforce their identities as children of God. They expose their children to varied contexts and learn to interpret and intervene with Gospel values and self-discovery.
“Having Catholic parents help to deepen our faith in God and practice one’s religion. Such efforts motivate us to reflect on our life, our relationship with God and others,” explains Ivan.
“Our parents subtly transmit ways of faith and human values that take concrete actions in their daily lives to inspire us, so that we seek to share their common principles that would make us responsible persons for others.”
Ivan has developed into a person of character and responsibility toward self and others, though he has his share of limitations, he learns to grow amidst imperfections.
“Our parents have taught us to serve and not to be served. They transmit the faith to us by their actions and examples. They encourage, teach and educate us not only religiously but also civilly, that is, to be responsible and be good citizens,” concludes Ivan.