In work-life balance, choose family, a father advises

The realization hit Derek Barr one summer: he couldn’t have it all.

Working long hours and spending time with his wife and children was not possible.

“I was once one of those guys who would work all week and work overtime on top of it,” he said. “The Lord revealed to me that I missed my three older (kids) completely.”

Barr, who worked as a police sergeant for 19 years, quit his job in 2008 and rethought the strain of work-life balance.

He looked to the example of St. Joseph and saw that work was a way to worship God and support the family, but not at its expense.

“I learned that you have to be a father and husband first, second to your relationship with God. Then the work comes next,” he said. “I can say that my family is happier. We’re actually a family again and that’s been such a neat thing to spend time with each other.”

The work-life balance is cited as a struggle for not only mothers, but also for fathers, who often feel conflicted about too little time with their children, according to a Pew study in 2013.

Some 46 percent of fathers nationwide say they spend too little time with their children, and 50 percent say they find it “somewhat” to “very difficult” to balance responsibilities with work and family, the study reported.

Men have the best of intentions, Barr said, but he found a choice had to be made.

Not long after his conversion to the Church in 2006, Barr decided to attend the Augustine Institute and later the Biblical School.

“I had a summer of discernment and decided I needed to leave and get a degree,” said Barr, who attends St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Boulder.

He said he felt God’s call to start a career in teaching.

Today, Barr has spent four years as an instructor at the Biblical School. He said he spends more time time with his family and five children.

“It’s been an amazing change,” he said.

He will be the host of the school’s first Men of St. Joseph Night June 28 when men will enjoy barbecue, beer and talks on St. Joseph.


COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.

Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash