I thought I had misread the article. Did it really say that more than two-thirds of Catholic families make no provision for the faith formation of their children, either by sending them to a Catholic school or by enrolling them in a parish religious education program?

How could that possibly be true, I wondered? But sure enough, a survey, (See story, Page 9), recently commissioned by Holy Cross Family Ministries and conducted by CARA, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, reported the alarming findings that an overwhelming majority of families who identify as Catholic do not see that their children have regular exposure to faith formation opportunities through their parish or Catholic school.

As a product of more than 18 years of Catholic education (at the former St. Catherine of Alexandria Elementary School, Divine Savior Holy Angels High School and Marquette University, all in Milwaukee) and parent to three daughters who also have only attended Catholic schools, I realize I have been surrounded by committed Catholics in most aspects of my life. Even in my professional life, as an employee of the Catholic Herald, I am more likely than not to interact with Catholics practicing their faith.

But I’m surprised to find that these Catholics are not the norm; they are the exception.

The survey includes even more troubling information, finding that only 7 percent pray together as a family and 64 percent reporting that they never pray the rosary.

Again, I found myself wondering why so many so-called Catholics don’t see the need to formally instruct their children in matters of faith. Are they too busy? Are our lives so consumed with more important matters that faith formation falls to the wayside? For that matter, what could be more important than the spiritual wellbeing of our children?

In an effort to shed light on the survey, we decided to take a closer look at the survey’s findings by talking to local Catholics.

Our story, written by Colleen Jurkiewicz on Pages 10 and 11, looks at the faith practices of several local families and includes insights from the director of the Nazareth Project, Susan McNeil.

The families with whom we spoke are not among the two-thirds who do not make provisions for faith formation for their children. Those Catholics are not too eager to explain to a Catholic publication why they don’t choose Catholic education — parish faith formation program or in a Catholic school — for their children.

Yet, by hearing the stories of families who do make faith a priority in their lives, we see not only the way it can be incorporated into daily routines, but we get a glimpse into the challenges busy families face when making sure this is part of who they are.

It’s our hope this can be a conversation starter in schools and parishes, and can help in terms of evangelization — one of the priorities to be articulated at the Archdiocesan Synod. It certainly shows that we have a long way to go in terms of evangelization, yet as McNeil says in the article, Catholic families who take their faith seriously should do so out in the open by inviting others, whether in words or witness, to return to full communion with the church.

Also in this issue, Joe Pirillo, in his “As Dad Sees It” column, helps explain the need for investing in your family’s heavenly future. Sure, many young families are preparing for their futures financially, but he reminds them that investing in an eternal future is also imperative. Sound advice for sure!

Finally, don’t miss our annual “train” contest. Thanks to the generosity of Trainfest — taking place Nov. 14 and 15 at Wisconsin’s State Fair Park — we have a High Iron & Burning Rubber trainset to give away to a lucky family.

Additional prizes include Harlem Globetrotter tickets for their annual Dec. 31 appearance in Milwaukee and vouchers to a Milwaukee Admirals game. Complete details on the contest are on Page 16!