27 November 2022

Love and mutual support key to blended family’s faith decisions

Catherine Jonathan with daughter Pendo, son Nick and husband Leo. Image: Supplied.

Kirralee Nicolle

4 August 2022

A Geelong family has found a way to honour both of their faith traditions through their daughter’s baptism.

When choosing to baptise their daughter, Ms Jonathan and her husband wanted to find a way to honour both of their faith journeys – hers in the Anglican church and his in the Catholic tradition.

She said their solution was to request that their Anglican vicar, Reverend Jonathan Taylor, baptise their daughter in the Catholic parish in which Mr Jonathan was raised. Mr Taylor honoured their wishes, and the Catholic parish agreed to host the baptism.

Ms Jonathan said choices like this one were easy when love was in the picture.

“We’ve come together because we love each other,” she said. “Being Christians first, it made the process easier to want to live this way.

“Especially with [combining faiths] and even cultures, when it’s come from a place of love and wanting to support [one another] it becomes easier.”

Four years ago, Ms Jonathan and her son Nick moved to Australia from Nairobi, Kenya, to join Leo, who Catherine married in 2017. She met Mr Jonathan through mutual friends when the Australian-born building inspector was in Kenya on a work trip.

The family has since settled in Geelong and welcomed two-year-old daughter Pendo.

Throughout these transitions, they have maintained the value of God in their lives.

She also said that in Kenyan culture, it was traditionally the role of the mother to guide the family’s faith decisions.

“Christian faith is very strong and key to who we are,” Ms Jonathan said.

Sixteen-year-old Nick’s journey to confirmation was also a significant one for the family.

Nick was recently confirmed at St Albans’ Hamlyn Heights. Ms Jonathan said this occasion brought a sense of continued connection between Nick and his peers in Nairobi who were also being confirmed at the same time.

Ms Jonathan said she was reassured by Nick’s choice be confirmed, as Christian tradition was a key feature of Kenyan culture, and parents who emigrated may find a secular culture jarring and difficult to navigate.

“It is a struggle for African parents in Western cultures where Christianity is dying,” she said.

“It’s important to be able to find that support in that environment.

“We’re very fortunate that Nick has taken up that [decision] without feeling pressured.”

Ms Jonathan said the family had found the support of St Albans’ vital during the process of settling in Australia, especially when giving birth and raising a young child during COVID-19.

“We’ve been very fortunate to find a supportive community at St Albans,” she said.

“I think it’s [been a way of] seeing God’s grace in our new life here.

“It’s made it much easier to settle in and find a group we can call family.”

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