Tom Ponchak is a husband and father of five girls and one boy. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church in Carmel, IN. Tom has a degree in Theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He and his wife, Lisa, left the Catholic Church for ten years and were pastors of a non-denominational, ...evangelical church before returning to Catholicism in 2007. Tom enjoys reading, cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers, and spending time with his family. More

Who Are You?

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There is a great temptation to find our identity in what we do, rather than who we are. We are conditioned to do it nearly automatically, as if it’s just second nature. We tie our identity to our jobs or our majors.  Some people tie their identity to their sexuality. Others find their identity in their physical or intellectual abilities. Some people even find their identity in ministry, in the things they do for God. Within marriage we can find our identity in our spouse or children. Finally, many find their identity in what they have done or have had done to them. They can’t let go of past sins, addictions or wounds.

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From Humanae Vitae to Parkland

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life), the landmark document that upheld the Catholic Church’s rejection of artificial contraception as immoral. As modern papal documents go, Humanae Vitae is light reading; the printed booklet version is only fifteen pages long. Within its pages, Pope Paul VI explains the Catholic Church’s understanding about the nature of sex and of human dignity. He called for responsible parenthood and encouraged married couples to work with God’s grace in living out the call to holiness.

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Flying Blind

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In July, 1999, John Kennedy Jr., his wife, and sister-in-law, perished when the plane he was piloting plunged into the Atlantic Ocean. The investigation of the crash concluded that Kennedy had suffered from spatial disorientation when fog combined with low lighting made visual flight difficult. 

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Parenting with Grace

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“Dad! Isaac peed on the dog’s bed!”

“Dad! Lily punched me!”

“Dad! Tell Sarah to stop bothering me!”

“Dad, can you co-sign on my student loans (again)?”

I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about each of these real life situations.

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Ashes and Flowers

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I started dating my wife while we were in college. Like any dutiful boyfriend I began to make plans for our first Valentine’s Day when Lisa informed me that she wouldn’t be available for a date on February 14th. It was her roommate’s birthday and several of their friends planned a birthday party for her. Lisa said she would make it up to me by cooking me dinner on February 15th. She enlisted her friends to dress as waiters and we shared a romantic dinner for two in a common room in her dorm. I was so caught up in the moment that I proposed to her that night. I had been planning to ask Lisa to marry me and was working on an elaborate proposal scheme, but that night just seemed right. I didn’t even have a ring yet, but she said yes. We’ve celebrated Valentine’s Day on February 15th ever since.

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