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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Responsible parents beget responsible children*

Decades ago, my education professor used to say, "Education starts from womb to tomb."

When I became a parent, in 1988, I realized how important early child education is and the impact it has on early child's development and future success.

Child development involves early education, with parents playing the leading role in this reponsibility. Even if the baby is still in the mother's womb, learning takes place.

I remember those early days when I used to talk to my first baby when he was still in his mom's womb. He responded when I said, "Kick, baby, kick." I read Mother Goose rhymes to him and sang baby songs for him. I recited letters of the alphabet and also counted one to 10 for him. He responded when I spoke to him. I did the same thing to my second child.

Both my children were my "case studies." I studied them, while providing them opportunities to learn. My wife and I took time to teach them the basics---their ABCs, numbers, colors,letter and number recognition, reading and writing---at a very early age.

Books and other reading materials were scattered everywhere in the house. I "tested" them to find out if they were curious enough to open a book. and they did, especially the picture books.

We taught them simple prayers, took them to church and cultural shows, and encouraged them to be creative. They raised questions, and we tried to answer them the best we could. We also visited libraries. Eventually, they developed the habit of reading and loving books early.

By the time they entered school, they were ready to learn more. And more they did from their teachers, fellow students and other people around them. Consequently, their preschool teachers didn't have problems with our children. We continued guiding and helping them with their homework and school projects.

Young children learn what they see and experience at home and in the community. Their brains are like sponges that absorb everything they're exposed to. Therefore, as their first teachers, we should provide them with an atmosphere of learning environment and a variety of learning materials and equipment.

In her letter to the editor, Suffolk News-Herald, Saturday, April 18, Mary Grace Garner-Atkins wrote that too many children are not ready for school. She observed that they're "ill-prepared" and have not been taught responsibility for their actions.

Why? Who's to blame for this early educational problem? Their parents, of course. Responsibility resides in the parents who conceived these children.

Parents, take heed of Garner-Atkins' plea: " Make it your aim to teach your children how to be responsible, to get along with other children, to be honest and to thank you and their teachers for helping them to grow up to be good, reliable adults." Amen to that.

Educational responsibility starts at home. Home is where children learn to love to learn and be responsible.

As parents, we are supposed to be role models for our children. If they see us as responsible, they will also be responsible someday. And if they ever have families of their own, they will carry on that responsibility and apply those family values and virtues learned at home.

If we are not responsible for their early education, who will be? The government? Teachers? The government can only do so much, and so can the teachers. They are our partners in educating our children.

Responsible parents beget responsible children.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, April 26, 2015. For more information, visit

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Deal with taxes and move on*

Tax Day: By the end of the day, Americans are required to have filed their income taxes. It's a law we have to live with.

Most of us have already filed our taxes before today's deadline, and most probably either have received their refunds---or, for those, like me, who owe the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) some amount, they've (already) sent their checks.

Decades ago, I used to do my single, then joint, yearly tax returns for both federal and state taxes. But then it became complicated because of a rental house we have and I have had to seek help from a certified tax preparer, who has been doing a great job for my family by filing ours electronically.

Many of us have this procrastination issue---we wait for the last minute to file our taxes. That's just the way it is.

But I decided not to wait to send what we owe to Uncle Sam this tax year. I know our payment will, in one way or another, help make our country stable and safe.

With no more deductions to claim, since our two young adult children are now paying their own income taxes, my wife and I don't expect refunds from our federal tax returns.

Filing our taxes on time isn't something many of us look forward to, but it's easier than ever to get them done on time. It's just a matter of knowing who or where to go for help.

If you're willing to pay for a certified tax preparer or a certified public accountant, it's even easier. But there are also free volunteer tax preparers and organizations in our community willing to help prepare tax returns for people who meet the requirements. These individuals and organizations are to be commended for doing a great job serving our community.

If you've put off filing your taxes until the last minute, that's now. Just deal with it and move on with your life.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Wednesday, April 15, 2015. For more information, visit

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Catholic practices remind believers of Christ*

As we commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are mindful of His influence in our lives. His teachings and examples have guided us to a life worth living for and sharing to others.

Our religious practices of prayer, fasting, abstinence, alms-giving, repentance and penance are emphasized. Our renewed faith gives us hope, courage and strength to do good deeds. With Christ in mind and heart, we conquer fear and sin.

With Holy Week in full swing, we're now focused on the observance of the Easter Triduum.

Triduum, commonly pronounced "TRIH-doo-uhm," comes from Latin and means "three days," the most sacred days in the church.

During Triduum, the traditional Jewish practice of counting days from sunset to sunset is used. Hence, Holy Thursday evening to Good Friday evening is the first day; Good Friday evening to Holy Saturday evening, the second day, and Holy Saturday evening to Sunday evening the third day.

Evening Masses are held in Catholic churches all over the world to commemorate the institution of the Eucharist and the sacrament of Holy Orders. The Gospel's account of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples is read.

There's also the symbolic commemoration of the Lord's Supper, in which Christ directed His disciples to carry out the same ritual: "Do this in remembrance of me."

On Good Friday, church worship services relive the passion of Christ. There are readings from the Old and New testaments, but the most important reading is the account of the Lord's passion and death from the Gospel of John. Then there's the prayer of the faith community gathered in the church.

After receiving the communion, parishioners say a final prayer and then leave the church qietly. Our long preparations of fasting and praying, of doing good deeds and listening to the story of Jesus' life and death will have come to an end. And then it's time to wait.

Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening is the climax of the Triduum, the high point of liturgical year. It is time to welcome new members into the church through baptism and confirmation and Eucharist.

Liturgy begins in front of the church, and faith community gathers around the new Easter fire blessed by our pastor and used to light the Easter Paschal candle, a sign of the risen Christ in our midst throughout the year.

Once inside the church, we hear the Gospel about salvation and the good news proclaiming that Jesus is risen. We hear the great hymn, "Glory to God in the Highest," sung once again, and we all sing the great Alleluia.

The Elect or catechumens are baptized, and they join us to celebrate the new life coming into the church by gathering in front of the altar, and, finally, receiving communion.

Easter Sunday is a time to celebrate Jesus' resurrection, after His crucifixion. The message, "Christ is risen!" is echoed in all Christian churches.

Happy Easter!

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at 

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, April 1, 2015. For more information, visit