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The Easley Family and the Holy Family

The Easley Family of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Winooski embraces the Holy Family as part of their family.
Parents Jordan R. H. and Leah Elizabeth Easley, both 33 and converts to Catholicism, teach their daughter, Magdalena, nearly 2, that Jesus, Mary and Joseph are integral members of their family.
Before they became members of the Church at Easter 2016, the Easleys learned that they were infertile. “As the months turned into years with no children, we began to ask the Lord more intentionally, ‘What does it mean to be a family?’” Mr. Easley said. “And almost without knowing it, we began to realize that our values lined up with the Roman Catholic teaching on marriage and family. It was not up to us to control how God gave us children; it was up to us to obey.”
For them, that obedience meant care for the fatherless. Thus, through a long and arduous process with Department for Children and Families, they were matched with their son, Judah, in 2013.
In the two weeks that they cared for him, two moments stand out for Mr. Easley, a catechist at four area Catholic churches.
The first was their last night in the hospital. Judah had been cleared to go home with them the following morning, so the family had a private room where Mrs. Easley held him; her husband watched in wonder. “The room was charged with holy awe, like at the Nativity. I said to Leah, ‘This is the happiest moment of my life,’” he recalled.
The second moment came a few days later, when the Department for Children and Families took Judah away. (There is a time between when a child joins a family and when the adoption is finished during which the biological parents can change their minds.)
“In so short a span of time, I also came to the saddest moment of my life,”
he said.
In prayer, Mr. Easley said the Lord said, “Jordan, my family was there with you. My mother, Mary, and my [foster] father, Joseph, were in the hospital with you and Leah and Judah. They were weeping with you as you baptized him together. My family is my gift to your family.”
Since then, the Easleys have included the Holy Family in their prayers.
Mr. Easley consecrates himself and his family to the Holy Family every day.
The rosary is the foundation of his prayer life. “Every bead and every mystery is imbued with meaning,” said Mr. Easely who was raised in a Southern Baptist home in Memphis, Tenn. “I am learning to bring Mary and Joseph into every conversation that I have with Jesus. They are the best parents and prayer partners that I could ask for.”
His wife, a native of Rockport, Maine, is a religion teacher at Mater Christi School in Burlington. Her family attended a Presbyterian church for most of her childhood.
“Mary’s first role and Joseph’s first role is to bring us to their son and their son’s father,” she said. “There have been a few times in my life when I wasn’t able to pray, but, after talking with Mary or Joseph, even for only a minute or two, I could. In those moments, they bridged a chasm I could not bridge on my own.”
She sees Mary not so much as a role model as a co-parent. “We explicitly teach our daughter that Mary is her mother too, and we tell her she can always talk to Mary,” Mrs. Easley said. “When I fail as mother, I rest assured in the reality that she has a better Mother.”

Originally published in the 2017 summer issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.
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