In early September, I received an email from a reader that mirrored an experience my family was going through.

MaryangelaDebbie Branger, a reader from South Milwaukee, wrote to share with us her experiences of sending her oldest child off to college. Her emotions ranged from pride to panic; happiness to fear. You can read her reflection on Page 7.

The piece hit home for me as at about the same time, our family was helping our oldest daughter, Marisa, move into the dorms at Marquette University. Sure, Marquette is less than 20 minutes away from our house, but for the first time ever, Marisa was not home every night where I could comfortingly know that she was safely tucked into bed.

Her room at the top of the stairs looked bare and empty – until I realized it’s a great place to store clean laundry waiting to be folded – and it’s just a little quieter around the house these days. There’s one less person’s schedule to keep track of and leftovers seem to go a bit further. Certainly, the ice cream stays in the freezer longer these days!

She’s out on her own, and has that freedom she’s been craving. Lots of decisions fall on her shoulders now, where in the past, we guided her or even made the decisions for her. One of those decisions, of course, regards faith. When at home, every Sunday, we attended Mass. Now out on her own, that decision is hers to make.

For the first 18 years of her life, we tried to instill in her the value of keeping the Sabbath holy through Sunday Mass attendance, so as a parent I can only hope that example took root within her.

Author and speaker Leisa Anslinger was in the Milwaukee Archdiocese earlier this month offering advice to parents on this very topic. In presentations titled, “Help Your Children Grow Up Catholic,” she advised parents that their example is the strongest guide for children. And why is this important? According to Anslinger, people who regularly participate in church services are happier and have a greater sense of wellbeing, hope and optimism.

Read more of her advice for raising Catholic children on Page 6. It’s sound advice no matter what stage of parenting you’re experiencing.

Also this month, you won’t want to miss Paul Bauer’s account of his family’s recent journey to France for his brother’s wedding. Traveling with four young children is no small feat, but traveling internationally with four small children is even more of a task. Forgotten luggage, lost pacifier, out of control turnstiles at the airport are only a few of the challenges encountered by the family. Yet, in the end, Paul looks back on the trip as a blessed experience, complete with a moment of grace.