Blessed Carlo learned about Jesus from an unlikely source, and her example gives important lessons to anyone who cares for children.
“Beata was one of the first people to speak to Carlo about God,” says Antonia, mother of Blessed Carlo Acutis. When Carlo was born, his mother had only set foot in a church three times: for her first communion, her confirmation, and her marriage. Carlo’s family then moved to London for professional reasons, where the young boy was entrusted for four years to the care of a Polish nanny, a practicing Catholic with a special devotion to St. John Paul II.
His parents were believers but not practicing their faith, and it was Beata who guided young Carlo’s first steps in the faith. It was she who took him to Mass for the first time. Through her prayers, conversations, and example, she sowed in Carlo’s heart those little seeds of faith which, with time, took root and bore the extraordinary fruits that are now known to the world.
This teaches us an important lesson about the role of caregivers such as nannies, babysitters, daycare providers, etc., in the lives of our children. Their influence, whether for good or ill, can be significant. Here are some ways caregivers can help young souls to blossom:
1Awakening them to the faith
A nanny or babysitter often spends many hours with the children in her care. These are opportunities to talk to the children about Jesus, to teach them prayers or songs, to read to them about the lives of the saints, and to organize activities related to the Christian faith. Of course, this all presupposes that the parents, the first educators, are informed and agree to it. The point is not converting or evangelizing, but awakening a soul to God’s love for each person.
The story of Carlo and Beata makes us realize the impact a caring Christian presence can have on a child’s heart. This effect is all the greater when there is coherence between the convictions transmitted by the childcare provider and the parents.
2Giving Christian answers to children's questions
Starting around age 3, children often ask very profound questions about the meaning of life, about death, about creation, and about religion. The people taking care of the children, who are present and available when the child asks these kinds of questions, can guide the child toward knowing and loving God. Offering a Christian answer is another way of giving God a place in the child’s heart.
Carlo’s mother testifies in this regard: “He was three or four years old when he started asking very deep questions. He was very attracted to the Church, Jesus, the Virgin Mary …” He assailed his mother with questions about faith, and his nanny too, no doubt. His nanny was able to give him well-formed answers and to encourage the grace of baptism, received just after his birth, to unfold in him in a very special way.