Tell us about your family involvement with the Affton Christian Food Pantry.
Jen: When Patrick was six, he had a lemonade stand. We told him we would match whatever he set aside to share with someone less fortunate. We thought we’d buy a toy for Toys for Tots or something. In six months, he saved
about $30 and he said he wanted to feed hungry people. We went to the
grocery store, bought a couple bags of food and brought it to the Affton Christian Food Pantry. It was a great parenting moment. They were thrilled, and they were so kind to him.
About three or four weeks later, he asked
what happened to that food. I said, “I’m sure they shared it with
families who are hungry.” And he said, “Do you think they’re still
hungry?” I said, “Yeah, I’m sure they are. That’s why they go to a food
pantry for help.” He said, “Then Mom, we didn’t do enough.”
So Patrick and I started going once a month. They asked me to be more involved. In 2012, I started as part-time executive director. The best part is that my children have grown up here. We incorporate it in our home-schooling. Patrick has grown up serving in the food pantry. One of our favorite parts is getting to know the clients. You really build relationships.
Jen, what’s your approach to the children’s interests?
Meghan started her pro-life work when she was 10.
We just let them lead. They come to us and say, “This is a problem we
have to fix,” and then we try to figure out how to make that work for
Jim, your approach?
Meghan’s New Year’s resolution was to end abortion. OK, we’ll work on that. Our youngest has taken on homelessness as his calling, including organizing a group within his Cub Scouts to create “blessing bags” — personal care items and shelf-stable foods they can hand out. As a family, the commitment we made is to always have some fast-food gift cards with us to give those to people asking for help.
Describe the faith-related activities you do with the children.
We try to pray every night together and have dinner together. We do a
prayer service after dinner in Lent and Advent. We try to make our faith
real and active. We’re at the food pantry and serve. We pray outside
Planned Parenthood or gather around the Advent wreath and light the
candles. We hope to be raising practicing Catholics into their
adulthood, not just having a neat childhood experience for them.
How have you leaned on and learned from each other?
Jim: Faith has been so incredibly important to us.
Marriage can be like a house with all these virtues you build around,
but the foundation is love and God. And basically faith and hope are the
roof. We try to live those virtues — perseverance and integrity. We
really try to incorporate Ephesians 5, of laying down our lives for each
other in daily life. We each strive to get the other to heaven. That’s
Jen, an example?
A couple years
ago, early spring, I rolled the windows down in the car. I left the
windows down, assuming I’d be back out again. Then Jim handled the
running around that evening in his vehicle, and I forgot about it. About
4 o’clock in the morning one of those loud cracks of thunder woke us up
followed by that downpour sound. I heard it, rolled over and said, “Oh,
no.” Jim said, “What is it?” I said, “I’m pretty sure the windows in
the minivan are still down.” I was so out of it, I just rolled back over
and thought I’d just deal with it tomorrow. Jim got up and went out in
the rain to put the windows up. I thought at that moment, “My God, look
how much this man loves me.” I’m the one who had to drive with the wet
seats, not him.
Ultimately I know that no matter what, Jim has my
back and I’ve got his. No matter what, even when we hit those bumps in
the road, we lean back on that. Often we’ll just pray together. If there
are no words, we’ll just sit, hold hands, put ourselves before God and
see where we’ll end up.
Jim and Jen Meehan
Parish: St. Dominic Savio in Affton
Jen home schools the youngest two children and is the part-time
executive director of the Affton Christian Food Pantry. Jim works as a
corporate trainer at Core & Main in St. Louis County.
Activities: Marriage preparation, adult education catechist, lead Scripture and spirituality series and retreats
Patrick, 15, a sophomore at Bishop DuBourg High School; Megan, 14, will
attend DuBourg in the fall; and James, 12. Patrick is active in
liturgical music and lectoring at St. Dominic and has led the family in
reaching out to hungry families; Megan started The Pros, a pro-life
group at St. Dominic and is an altar server; James is an altar server
and has an interest in helping homeless people.
Favorite saints: St. Vincent de Paul, St. Teresa of Kolkata, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Dominic Savio
Families and phones
The Meehans address social media and electronic gadgets
• Enter into contracts, with a lot of controls, full access at anytime with their passcodes.
• Follow children’s social media accounts.
• Maintain open communication, especially before they get a phone
Explain the reasons for rules. They’re not just mom and dad trying to
be controlling —it’s about safety, respect for yourself and others as
well as integrity.
• Set a bed-time for phones, and a “sleeping” place that is public. They don’t take them to their rooms at night.