Joby and Anni Thomas are settled in Worcester in the UK. Joby Thomas was the previous national coordinator for UK, he is man of wisdom and Anni, a woman of prayer. As a family they are very active in the UK Jesus Youth ministry. There’s is a home that is filled with joy and laughter and is always open to young families and youngsters, through their life based on Christ, they continue to inspire many youngsters to live a life completely rooted in Christ. They are blessed with five children here on earth and one in heaven; Vidya (daughter 11 yrs), Vibha (daughter 10 yrs), Samuel (son 7 yrs), Benedict (son 4 yrs), John Paul (son 1yr).

When you think of a pro-life family what comes to your minds?

Many children, lots of noise, fun, laughter, chaos, joy, struggles, never-ending dishwashing, ample laundry, lots of helping hands, never able to get out of the house in time and so on…….

Do you both come from big families? What do you think is the best thing about having a big family.

No we both come from small families. There is so much joy despite all the chaos. We enjoy seeing the beauty and uniqueness of God’s creation in all our children in very different ways. We see how they learn from each other, share, help and love each other. The older children recognize the need to help the parents with household chores and looking after the young ones. The children can never have enough of each other. They love being together. We love seeing them grow into the various phases of life and realize how merciful and loving God is in having given us these precious gifts.

When did the idea of wanting many kids take shape?

Once we started having them and started appreciating how wonderful and precious they are as God’s gifts. Psalms 127.

Do you think it is important to have support systems around you, when rearing children? If so what do you consider to be your supports?

It does help if we can have parents nearby to support in times of delivery, ill-health, occasional child-care, etc. Close friendships within the JY movement can also be strong support. Personally we were never in favor of child-minders or au pairs. Either one of us is always at home to be with the children.

Can you share with us what equips you on a daily basis to deal with all the ups and downs of any day, especially when it comes to children? I’d imagine you need an ocean of patience and love.

Personal prayer, Mass, word of God, and praying, sharing and spending time with each other. Constantly encouraging and motivating each other and the children.

Each child has a unique personality and needs, how do you manage to cater to each one of their needs?

By spending time with each one separately daily, observing them, praying for each one and their individual needs daily. Encouraging and motivating them in what they are good at. Helping them in the areas they struggle by constantly appreciating them and by avoiding to speak negatively/belittling them. Above all, entrusting each one to the Lord during Mass, every day.

To be holistic
human beings and
true Catholics
with a great love
for Christ and his
church, that they
may recognise and
excel at whatever
God has planned for
their lives.

You are homeschooling as well, what prompted you?

When we met a few homeschooling families in 2011- we were very inspired by the joy they reflected, the holiness and simplicity in their lives. Their lifestyle appeared to be a joyful contradiction to the worldly ways – a very deliberate and conscious decision which suggested that God is at the center of everything they did and Eternal Life is their most important priority and destination.

Are there any things that you intentionally do within your family to pass on your Catholic faith?

We pray as a family at least twice a day, once in the morning and then in the evening. We usually pray for souls in purgatory while in the car on short trips or rosary with different intentions on long trips. Sometimes the divine mercy is prayed in the afternoon. Try to speak and study about faith (Catechism and the Bible) on a daily basis. Try and practice certain values of the Gospel as often as possible. Preparing for and observing important feasts and solemnities of the year with a spirit of creativity. We try to practice virtues at home especially we as parents lead by example, encouraging the children to follow.

Do you take time on a daily basis to pray and dream for each one of your children? What would be your biggest dream for them?

Yes. We do, Individually and together. To be holistic human beings and true Catholics with a great love for Christ and His Church. That they may recognize and excel at whatever God has planned for their lives.

You are both active in the ministry? How do you find a balance between work, family, and ministry? Is it important to set priorities?

It is important to pray and discern ones priorities. The Kingdom of God begins with me and my family. So if my relationship with God, my wife and children are not in order then I cannot effectively minister to others. Time-management is very important. We need plans but at the same time, be flexible. Both of us work part-time which helps get the right balance between family, homeschooling and ministering.

Do you get time to spend time with each other as a couple? Is it important?

Very important. We struggle to, especially since the children are with (and sometimes at us) all the time. It is usually when they are in bed at night or sometimes when the kids are busy watching a video or playing games together. We usually share and pray for some time. Very occasionally, watch a movie together.

How do you come to common decisions especially when there is a conflict of ideas?

We list out all the pros and cons and try reasoning it out. If it is not something very important and there is no headway sometimes one of us lets go and respects the other person’s wisdom. But mostly we pray, discern and trust that the Lord will lead us.

How about your individual interests and friendships? Do these take a back seat or do you still find time for them?

We do struggle, but to be honest if we are a little pro-active, we can occasionally pursue our interests. Regular socializing does go down on the priority list but it honestly doesn’t hurt.

Any advice for young families who are just starting off?

Marriage is beautiful. It is a joyful vocation. So long as God is at the center of our marriage there is no challenge we cannot face because matrimonial grace provides us with the strength to overcome all obstacles. A strong prayer life and spending time with each other is very important to grow in love with God and our spouse. It is also important to distinguish between genuine needs and wants. This helps us save a lot of time, energy and efforts that we invest in our work. All of which can be channelized into building a joyful family that will be rooted in Christ and be a blessing to the world.

Shaun Austin is a part of the Jesus Youth National team in Ireland. With a heart for youth ministry, a talented worship leader & dedicated family man, he enjoys spending time with his baby girls.