The Davignon Family “We’re open to Life.”

By Ginny Revel

“What a beautiful family!” is a comment that Kelly and Mark Davignon have heard several times, describing themselves with their nine children. It gladdens their hearts, but they are quick to praise God for this accomplishment.

“When people ask us, ‘How do you do it?’ we always respond that it would be impossible without the grace of God,” Kelly shared. She and her husband are adamant that “we wouldn’t be able to raise nine kids without our Catholic faith, the sacraments and prayer.”

The Davignons didn’t plan to have any set number of children. However, before they wed, at Father John Constanzo’s direction, Kelly and Mark took marriage preparation classes, made a weekend retreat and trained in Natural Family Planning (NFP).

“Our Catholic faith definitely shaped our decision to be open to however many children God wanted us to have. Contraception wasn’t an option. We agreed to be willing participants in whatever was God’s plan, and then to step back and let the Holy Spirit do the rest,” Mark and Kelly concurred. They believe that they gradually grew into expanding their family. Like other parents, Kelly and Mark were comfortable first with one child, then with two, then they managed with three, and so on.

Starting with Thomas, who arrived on February 19, 1998, and continuing through Anna, who is now two years old, the Davignons just got used to always having a baby in diapers. “But that’s OK. Our focus changed quickly from ‘it’s all about us’ to ‘it’s all about the baby,’” Mark said.

Over the years, as their five boys and four girls were born and grew up, the older children just naturally helped with their younger siblings. As Kelly noted, “God designed a built-in baby care network of brothers and sisters. Big families just work that way.”

There are definite challenges, as well as major blessings, that flow from raising such a large family. The Davignons admit to being constantly financially challenged, but despite some set-backs, Mark and Kelly believe that the Holy Spirit continues to move the family along financially. “God has seen to our needs – not necessarily to our wants. He works through other generous people to lend us a helping hand. It just happens, and for that we are grateful,” shared Kelly.

Food and gently-used clothing are two items that are miraculously donated to the family – always when they are most needed. Kelly has become very creative with her recipes, her time management and carpooling in order to maximize the family’s blessings. And Mark helps by biking to and from work in order to leave the car with Kelly for ferrying the children around.

Kelly firmly believes that home schooling provides her with daily opportunities to strengthen the family, allowing her to weave the Catholic faith into the everyday lives of their nine children.

The family follows the Catholic Church’s liturgical seasons, “making each day a faith occasion to celebrate,” said Kelly. She added, “We don’t just do Sunday Mass – we try to live our faith every day.”

“For example, on October 7th, to celebrate the feast of the rosary, we made a rosary out of cupcakes that the children and I had baked,” said Kelly. “Another time I crocheted red and white roses to represent the Our Fathers and Hail Marys of the rosary. While praying, the children took turns collecting the roses into a basket.”

Kelly admits that, especially by involving the younger ones, the devotion may devolve into a comedy or ‘corralled chaos,’ but she’s convinced that God and the Blessed Virgin Mary aren’t worried that the prayers aren’t perfect. As she remarked, “The chaos just might open us to the fact that not one of us is really worthy of God.”

The Davignons are parishioners at St. Michael parish in Delta, where the children study for the sacraments. Kelly likes to ‘pair up’ the kids, making it easier to deliver them to faith formation classes. She also noted that the children seem to learn faster and easier when they have a sibling with whom to share their faith experience.

Currently, John Paul (9), MaryAnn (10) and Catherine (7) are preparing for First Reconciliation and First Eucharist. Thomas (16) and Megan (15) are in second year Confirmation classes and should receive this sacrament this spring.

“Catholicism has over 2000 years of faith and tradition to enrich our lives. We try to share the importance of this with each and every one of the nine children God has entrusted to us,” stated Kelly and Mark.