The Shields Family

Vicky Shields believes the best way to bring children up in the faith is by parents getting involved and bringing the kids along. That could explain why she applied to attend the World Meeting of Families congress this week in Philadelphia with three of her eight children: Christopher, Kathleen and James.

The family was not disappointed with the week’s events. The younger Shields especially enjoyed the emphasis on helping the poor, as well as the music at the congress, Vicky said.

On Sept. 22, the opening day of the congress, Shields listened to keynote speaker, Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles, of the famed documentary film series “Catholicism.”

“I was thrilled to hear what [Bishop Barron] had to say,” she said. “He talked about not keeping our faith to ourselves. He encouraged me to be bolder in the secular world.”

Shields has years of experience sharing faith with kids. She trained to become a youth minister in the Diocese of Camden and first served at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Haddon Heights. Today, the Shields family belongs to the Parish of St. Gabriel the Archangel in Carneys Point where her work with children has focused on running kids’ clubs for boys and girls ranging in age from kindergarten to the pre-teen years.

She is also a busy homeschooling mom, with over 20 years of experience teaching at home. For Vicky, working with kids is a labor of love.

“I have a real heart for ministry, and I love having an opportunity to share with kids,” she said.

The key to keeping the children and youth engaged, according to Shields, is getting them to take on greater roles as they mature.

“The crucial part of faith formation is to invite them into leadership. It solidifies their faith,” she said.

The Shields will take their experiences from the World Meeting of Families back home with them to St. Gabriel’s, where two of her adult children will be teaching CCD this year. Christopher and Kathleen will help her start two new faith groups for elementary-aged children.

“Everything I heard I will use in ministry,” Shields said. “I was taking it all in and will be able to use that with the children in the clubs. … I want to be able to instill in other children in the parish what I’ve done for my own kids.”

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