Your Family Matters - Godparents and grandparents, give gifts that grow faith

Photo: Janis Olson Photo: Janis Olson

When I was a little girl visiting my wonderful Catholic grandmother in Edmonds, she would often send me home with the gift of a few volumes from Father Lawrence Lovasik’s Books of Saints series. I would pore over them, admiring the color illustrations of the holy men and women. I took note of their feast days and areas of patronage.

My grandma still never fails to give meaningful and beautiful Catholic gifts for all her family’s baptisms, first Communions and confirmations. These gifts have blessed our domestic church and inspired our spiritual life. With Easter, first Communion and Confirmation season upon us, I offer a collection of faith-building gift ideas for grandparents and godparents, aunties and uncles, catechists and parents.

The feasts and seasons of the church year provide a wealth of opportunities for godly gifts. Kate, our second daughter, often receives a religious, Christmas-themed picture book sometime between Advent and Epiphany from her faraway godparents. Our oldest daughter, Clare, received a Kurt Adler magnetic Nativity Advent calendar from her godparents when she was about 4 years old. It has become a treasured and Christ-centered part of our family’s annual Advent preparations. I try to give my own godchildren at least one faith-inspiring gift per year. One past gift, the picture book Brigid’s Cloak by Bryce Milligan, is equally appropriate for Christmas or for St. Brigid’s Feb. 1 feast day. Lives of the saints collections, like my grandma gave me, are great year-round.

Here are seven Easter gift ideas for the Catholic children in your life:

  1. Resurrection eggs make Jesus’ paschal mystery come alive for young children in a fun, hands-on way. Crafty grandparents or godparents could create their own set with directions from Ready-made sets are also available on Amazon.
  2. My favorite picture book for Lent and Easter is Peter’s First Easter by Walter Wangerin Jr. It is out of print, but you can find it used on Amazon.
  3. A home paschal candle makes a great gift or craft project to do with the Catholic children in your life. Make a cross on a white pillar candle with beads or a glue gun and rhinestones. Mark the five wounds of Christ by placing five red beads on the cross’s ends and center while praying: “By his holy and glorious wounds may Christ our Lord guard us and keep us.” For directions for marking the Alpha and Omega as well as the calendar year numbers on your candle, check the Shower of Roses blog.
  4. A giant Lamb of God coloring poster from arrived in our mailbox one year from 5-year-old Beata’s godparents. The poster was a huge hit for the whole
    family — all the sisters had fun coloring it in together, and it adorned a bedroom door throughout the Easter season.
  5. A spiritual bouquet is an offering of prayer. In the Easter season, a single chaplet of Divine Mercy or the whole Novena of Divine Mercy would make a fitting gift presented with a lovely notecard describing the offering. Crafters could accompany the card with a bouquet of tissue-paper flowers to represent each prayer offered.
  6. Peg dolls for Passion Week. I’m thrilled to try’s printable decoupage peg doll Passion Set this year as a gift to my own children. Little hands can use the dolls to act out the Stations of the Cross or the events of Holy Week (perhaps in a “Jerusalem” they build with wood blocks).
  7. Glory Stories CDs. These are family favorites! Each story features great voice acting, rich catechesis, background music from the saints’ cultural and historical settings, and a compelling, well-written script. The stories of Blessed Imelda, the patron saint of first communicants, St. John Paul II, St. Faustina, all available from, are perfect for this time of the liturgical year.

Northwest Catholic - April 2017

Sarah Bartel

Sarah Bartel, a member of St. Andrew Parish in Sumner, holds a doctorate in moral theology and ethics from The Catholic University of America, where she specialized in marriage, family, sexual ethics and bioethics. Her website is