Catholic Messenger Conversations Podcast: Welcoming a new baby into family’s domestic church

Patrick, Josephine and Rachel Schmadeke pose with Barb Arland-Fye after a recording of Catholic Messenger Conversations podcast Feb. 7 at KALA-FM radio studios at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

Podcast: Catholic Messenger Conversations Episode 54 – Baby Josephine joins her family’s domestic church!

DAVENPORT — Three-week-old Josephine Schmadeke slept peacefully in her baby carrier, her mom and dad on either side of her, during production of the Catholic Messenger Con­versations Podcast Feb. 7 in the KALA-FM Radio studio at St. Ambrose University.

Her arrival in the world Jan. 19 as the third child in the Schmadeke family gave birth to a suggestion: a podcast with her dad and mom on welcoming a new baby into the family’s domestic church. Patrick Schmadeke is director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Davenport, and Rachel Schmadeke is a physical therapist with Genesis Health System in Davenport.


The Davenport Diocese has been focusing over the last year on fostering a sense of welcoming and belonging in the diocesan church. Nurturing that sense of welcoming and belonging begins in families, the domestic church, the Schmadekes believe.

So, what does the domestic church look like in the day-to-day experience of Patrick and Rachel and their family? “Well sometimes it’s messy, like this morning, getting to school on time,” Patrick said, laughing. “Matthew is a first-grader and Catherine is in 3-year-old preschool at St. Paul the Apostle (School in Davenport). Both of them said they wanted to hold Josephine this morning as we were trying to get their coats and shoes on.”

“It’s a little chaotic in the morning,” Rachel admitted. “Mornings don’t contain our best moments, probably. In the evening, we have a little more structure. Normally, I pick up the kids after work. I work as a physical therapist at Genesis East (close to their school). I’ve gotten Matthew to understand that if I’m running late to pick them up it’s because I’m helping one more person. I’ve been trying to put the emphasis on the positive and not, ‘Sorry it’s late and you’re hungry and we’re tired.’ Once we get home and people are fed, the evenings go smoother for us.” Patrick adds, “Matthew is such a nurturer. That appeals to him; mommy’s helping someone at the hospital.”

“Dinner is kind of a time when things turn toward intentionality. Sometimes during dinner, we’ll go around the table and we’ll ask the question, ‘What was your favorite or most memorable sight, sound, taste, touch or smell?’” Patrick said. One more way to help unpack the day.


“Prayer at dinnertime is definitely our most structured family prayer,” Rachel said. “We’ll pray either one of two kind of rote prayers” and then have everyone around the table say ‘God bless (someone).’” The Schmadekes picked up that blessing tradition from some friends. “Part of preparing to welcome Josephine was adding ‘and God bless baby’ while we were waiting for her and now we say ‘God bless Josephine,’ of course,” Rachel said. “We did that when Matthew was the only child and we were expecting Catherine,” Patrick said. “That really nurtured his anticipation.”

Soon, the Schmadekes will talk to their two older children about baptism to prepare for Josephine’s initiation into the Church. “We have a children’s book that goes through the main parts of the rite with pictures,” Patrick said. After the birth of each child, the Schmadekes chose his or her name based on a saint whom they believe might inspire that child. The family celebrates the baptismal date of each child and the feast day of their saint namesake, too.

The children’s bedtime ritual includes singing. “One song is ‘Day is Done,’ we sing that as a family,” Rachel said. “Recently, we started doing crosses on each other’s foreheads. We used to do that when they were sleeping but thought maybe we should do it when they’re awake … and now we do it for each other.”

Living in an ecumenical household, the Schmad­ekes are intentional about being open and honest regarding the commonalities and differences in their Christian faith traditions. “In our own paths, the differences have brought out growth in both of us,” said Patrick. “The differences are opportunities for creative or generative tension as opposed to destructive disagreement.”

The commonalities they have leaned into with success include “prayers we have in common and music we all appreciate,” Rachel said. “Our faith grew out of the same apostles and the early Church.” They appreciate delving into the early history of the Church and learning more about the saints. Rachel said she and Patrick see the saints as role models for life and faith.

Religious art is another way to build on communion. One art piece is a contemporary image of the visitation of two mothers-to-be, the Blessed Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. Both of the older children know “that’s Mary with Jesus and Elizabeth with John,” Rachel said.

The kids are also learning about the concept of mercy, beginning with the example of Daniel Tiger, a cartoon character whose mantra is, “When you feel so mad you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four.” Both parents strive to model forgiveness, too, by “not being too proud to ask for forgiveness,” Rachel said. “I made an apology this morning,” Patrick added.

Resources for families:

Rachel Schmadeke recommends several resources for other families in their journey as a domestic church: “The Temperament God Gave Your Kids,” by Art Bennett and Laraine Bennett; “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate,” by Gary Chapman; and “Laughs and Littles,” a podcast by two young Catholic moms working through life with their families. Listen to the Catholic Messenger Conversations podcast with the Schmadekes at podcasting or on your favorite podcasting app.

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