Greg and Lisa Mueller, parishioners at Holy Redeemer in Webster Groves,are among the many parents who believe a Catholic education and vigilant parenting give children the best opportunity to succeed.
Greg is the founder, managing partner, lead trial attorney and personal injury lawyer with the Mueller Law Practice, LLC. He’s served on the parish school board, began and is still active with the parish Christmas tree lot and is a former president of the Holy Name Society Men’s Club at the parish. Greg serves as a captain at the Jesuit White House Retreat Center. He served on the Webster Groves City Council for 10 years and teaches a law class as an adjunct professor at Maryville University.
Lisa, a former real estate attorney, is a stay-at-home mom and has served at the parish as chair of the auction, progressive dinner and Boy Scout troop membership. She serves as activities director at the Culver Academy Summer Leadership Camp in Indiana and volunteered with the Holy Redeemer sister-parish medical mission in Haiti three times.
Greg, in consultation with Lisa, answered these questions.
Why is Catholic education is important to you, and what advice do you have for others?
At its best, Catholic education builds God’s kingdom on earth, one child at a time. The academic fundamentals of Catholic schools are excellent. But we choose Catholic education more importantly for the religious education, which together helps educate the whole person. Academic excellence and religious instruction together contribute to form responsible, Catholic young adults.
For those considering Catholic education, we know of no greater purpose or worthy sacrifice than passing on to our children the Catholic faith. This is best accomplished in the home by a family, and reinforced by a local Catholic school community, attended by neighbors, friends and fellow parishioners. The magnitude and import of the gift of Catholic faith is likely only understood and appreciated as an adult looking at life in retrospect.
What are the best aspects of seeing your children grow as individuals and as part of the family?
No childhood is without adversity or obstacles, and our children are no exception. The most rewarding aspect of parenting teenagers into young adulthood is watching our children use the lessons they learned at an earlier age to meet the challenges of the present. These challenges are not just academic, but also challenges presented by society at large. It is a constant struggle to resist the dangers of smoking, drugs and alcohol, and to temper the temptations of social media, entertainment, and the internet.
Do you have some family traditions that is faith-related?
We go to church on vacation. We go to Michigan every year, frequently to the same town. And our children now remember these vacation parishes from years gone by. It is fun to see them recall memories of a vacation parish from long ago, even a Mass we joke about because I did not know is was in Spanish.
What has influenced you as parents and what do you recommend to young parents in search of advice or examples?
We are both quite lucky because our parents are worthy role models. Also, we are both lawyers, who can call out the faults, felonies and misdemeanors of our children — much to their dismay — with focused and technical precision. But we both share an exceptionally light touch when it comes time for “sentencing.” A shortened “Act of Contrition,” which quickly said, usually ameliorates all guilt: “I am sorry, with a sincere intent not to do it again.” We have been fortunate to not need a harsh punishment to get our parenting points across.
How do you teach your children to remain close to their Catholic faith and teachings?
We were at our best parenting when we taught by example. I learned early that we should “preach the Gospel, and use words if necessary.” So I start and end my day as a parent by saying my morning and evening prayers — out loud — so my children hear me, even when they thought I was crazy. I do not make them pray, but I let them see and hear us pray — daily. We also go to Mass together. We eat meals together. Wisdom is learned and our Catholic faith grows spontaneously when a family gathers around the kitchen table to eat good food.
The Mueller family
• Greg and Lisa Mueller, married 23 years
• Greta, 19, sophomore at Fordham University, chemistry/biology major, graduate of Nerinx Hall High School and Holy Redeemer School
• Bennett, 16, sophomore at De Smet Jesuit High School and graduate of Holy Redeemer School
• Greyson, 12, seventh grade, Holy Redeemer School