Peter and Linda Feuerbach Pilot photo/ Courtesy the Feueubachs
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MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA -- Attend Mass at Sacred Heart in Manchester-by-the-Sea on any given weekend and you’ll find the Feuerbach family -- Peter and Linda and their three children -- sitting right in the front row.
“We always try to sit right in the front because that way the kids get a first hand view of what’s going on,” explained Peter.
“Father Blackwood is very nice and very sweet with the kids,” added Linda. “Also, Peter and I want our children to know that it is important for them to have a relationship with God.”
Striving to pass faith onto their three children has compelled Linda, a former second grade teacher, to volunteer in the religious education program. This past summer, Linda spent many hours helping the religious education coordinator, Valerie Shippen, develop a core curriculum for the parish’s religious education program.
“We are trying to get away from teachers depending solely on the books,” she explained, “so we developed a new curriculum, using 13 different topics, and adding crafts for each of the topics.”
“It was very nice to be a part of developing that,” she added.
In addition to her involvement in religious education, Linda also is involved in the flower ministry of her parish, helping to beautify the parish during special feast days.
Being involved in parish life is something Peter considers very important as well. An attorney, Peter is a member of the parish’s finance committee. He is also a lector and currently is part of a newly established “visioning” group within Sacred Heart that seeks to look at the long-term development of the parish.
“The visioning group looks at the different ministries of the parish,” explained Peter. This is done by dividing the 25-member committee into subgroups and taking a look at different aspects of parish life -- development, hospitality, faith formation, liturgy and music/homily in order to “see what our collective goals are within each ministry.”
“Our goal is to enliven the parish,” he said.
Peter noted that the visioning group has been instrumental in bringing about an increased sense of community within the parish by uniting established parishioners with new parishioners.
“There’s a real interest in building the spirit and the community,” he said.
Linda agreed, adding that the parish has recently begun Generations of Faith as a supplement to the religious education curriculum.
“Generations of Faith is starting to bridge the gaps of generations within the parish,” she said, noting that the parish has a large number of young families new to the area as well as some established Manchester families.
Both Peter, 49, and Linda, 41, were raised in Catholic families. However, Peter noted that despite his Catholic upbringing, he “fell out of custom” of attending weekly Mass while he was in his 20s and 30s.
“I never really thought about going to Church then,” he said.
Linda’s experience was much the same, she said. The Ipswich native had been raised in a Catholic family, but had stopped attending Mass regularly. In fact, Linda noted that when she and Peter first married 15 years ago, they both decided to marry in a Congregational church since neither was involved in any parish.
Marrying was the impetus for the Feuerbachs to return to their roots.
“I think part of the responsibility and the commitment and the seriousness of getting married was returning to Church,” he said pensively. Not long after, the couple had their marriage blessed in the Church.
“It was great to get married in the Catholic Church,” Linda said. “It really reinforced the idea of returning to the Church, to the faith.”
“For me, having faith makes me thankful for all the things we have -- for our health, our children -- for everything. It’s having a relationship with God and being able to share that with our children.”
Peter agreed, adding that to him, faith is also what reminds him to “be a better person to my family and with others.”
Sacred Heart Parish, Manchester-by-the-Sea
Year Established -- 1905
Pastor -- Father Wallace Blackwood
Pastoral Associate --Jean Fecteau
Religious Ed. Director -- Valerie Shippen
Business Manager -- Valerie Gaudet
Music Director -- Mary Baker
Organist -- John Shaputo
Youth Minister -- Valerie Shippen