JOYFULLY GIVING CHRIST TO THOSE FAR AND NEAR
Roshan Philip talks with Jevelson and Sangeeta Simenthy about their faith journey and how their lifestyle has inspired many
Whoever visits Philly (Philadelphia) can never miss the hospitality of Jevelson and Sangeeta Simenthy. Settled in Abington, a town in the suburbs of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), they are an embodiment of a lifestyle of holiness with their own family of eight children; Jubel (16), Cassandra (14), Catherine (12), Rachel (9), Camilla (7), John (5), Emily (3), and Bernadette (1). Jevelson is a computer science engineer by profession. Sangeeta has a Master’s in Computer Applications (MCA) and is focusing on homeschooling her children.
What are some encounter experiences you have had with the Jesus Youth movement?
Sangeetha: One of the best experiences is knowing that we always have someone there for us. We have no family in this country so the families we’ve met through Jesus Youth are truly everything a family can be to us. Whenever we are in need, we know that someone in the movement will come to help us live a Catholic lifestyle.
How did each one of you become involved with the Jesus Youth movement?
Jevelson: While doing my Master’s degree in Engineering in Gujarat, India, I learned about a JY retreat. I went out of curiosity. The Spirit of the Lord was really upon me and I decided that I wanted to walk in my journey of faith with Jesus Youth.
Sangeetha: I was not involved in Jesus Youth until I was married and came to the United States. My experiences with Jesus Youth have been positive and it has influenced my day to day life.
How does it feel to join the movement though marriage?
Sangeetha: I was scared to move to the US because I did not know what to expect. Jesus Youth was a home away from home. The fellowship was what drew me to the movement the most. I felt included in everything the movement did. My weekends became filled with different Jesus Youth events, get-togethers and different family houses. My Jesus Youth journey started with the fellowship aspect of the movement but after some time I began to explore the other pillars as well. I feel I am a part of the movement not just by marriage.
How do you both of spend time together and grow in your personal relationship as a husband and wife?
Sangeetha: We go out on dates.
Jevelson: We take a lot of walks together. We also enjoy watching movies and going out for dinner. I think it is very important that we spend time with each other every day.
What are some challenges that families struggle with growing in faith?
Jevelson: One of the biggest challenges for a family is being able to meet everybody’s needs and wants. We have a large family and our toughest challenge is finding time for everything and everyone. Also, there is a constant challenge to grow in our individual faith with God, along with our faith in God as a family. If you want to have a good marriage, you have to work hard to keep a good relationship with your partner. Family life involves a lot of personal sacrifice and learning to say no or giving up what you want, for what someone else needs.
Sangeetha: When you enter family life you take a responsibility to be accountable, not just about your spirituality and faith but, for someone else’s too. Your faith will influence the faith of others in your family. It is important to nurture others through prayer and develop a God-centered family life. One of the biggest challenges we face is celebrating life and God’s blessings, in a culture that is focused on death and self-destructive behaviors that take us away from God.
The call to holiness is to see the things we do in
our life in the perspective of God and God’s love.
Anything, such as our job at work can be an
opportunity to bring others to the Spirit
What advice would you give to a couple where one partner is involved with JY and the other is not?
Jevelson: Jesus Youth may not be for everyone but by bringing your partner to JY fellowship meetings and prayers as well as other events first may be helpful. The first thing we did when we came to the US was to attend a JY retreat. Being involved with a faith community can teach a person so many things during their life.
Sangeetha: In a marriage you sometimes have to put your partner first so, it can be difficult to be able to put God before your partner and them before you. I would recommend couples seek friendship and fellowship with other couples who are in the same stage of family life. This can help a couple stay Christ-centered and focused.
How do you see JY spiritually in your family life as well as in your community life? How has it affected your world perspective?
Sangeetha: Jesus Youth helped me form a Catholic lifestyle that embraces the JY pillars. Our decision to homeschool our children was made through the movement. We thought that the best way to give faith to our children was to teach them faith ourselves. Jesus Youth has made our spirituality joyful and this is something we have been able to share with and teach our children.
Jelevson: Jesus Youth emphasizes spirituality and this is something we can always use more of in our personal as well as family life. It allows me to practice my spirituality throughout my day, whether I am at home, work or anywhere else. When you raise a family while working and living life, it can be difficult to find moments for teaching faith. It is important to constantly show examples of faith in everything you do.
Can you share some ways in which you have brought aspects of Jesus Youth into your children’s faith?
Sangeetha: We try our best to start our day together as a family. We have our daily Rosary and the kids learn from the Bible as part of their home-school curriculum. That is one of the ways that we have been able to instill the Catholic faith within them. As a family we try to go to confession bi-weekly together.
What are some of the day to day things about faith that you do with homeschooling your kids?
Sangeetha: We begin our day with Holy Mass. After we have breakfast the kids begin their studies. We do a Divine Mercy Chaplet around 3:00pm and then we have different activities such as soccer practice. Around 7:00 pm we pray our daily rosary again as well. One of the goals we have with homeschooling is to teach our children about the lifestyle we live by showing them how we live it every day.
What are some ways your family is growing into a spiritual lifestyle?
Jevelson: The call to holiness is to see the things we do in our life in the perspective of God and God’s love. Anything, such as our job at work can be an opportunity to bring others to the Spirit. God wants us to treat others with love. Love can be a challenge in today’s growing secular world, but giving people the chance to witness God’s love will give them a chance to experience the holiness.
How do you balance your commitment to the movement and family life?
Jevelson: We prioritize what the Lord asks us to do as a family. Bringing others to Jesus is our main mission as a family. I can’t even begin to describe how God has blessed me to be able to balance everything; from my career, family and ministry. Having eight children is not easy, but God has showed me how to love my children. My commitment to the movement means finding any way to help others grow in their faith. You have to let God lead you when you are inspired by Him.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Jevelson: Wake up each day and make a decision to do everything in God’s name. Practicing holiness means doing ordinary things in a way in which, you ask God to show you His mercy and grace.
Sangeetha: Being a stay-at-home mom has allowed me to focus on my family and home life while still finding a way to be involved with work. When it comes to the ministry we have learned to prioritize our daily tasks to make sure we remain committed to our mission.