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 | By Stephanie Van Koevering

‘Our faith is the most important thing we’re going to pass on to our kids’

For Steven and Hannah Hansen of Fowlerville, no sacrifice is too great to ensure their children receive the best Catholic education possible. Recently, they told our editor, Stephanie Van Koevering, how they make it all work

he Hansen home is the perfect place to raise a family. Set on a lovely piece of land in Fowlerville, there’s ample room for four horses, eight children, and a cozy farmhouse that seems to have been custom built for them.

It’s also perfectly located near major highways that make it easy for them to ensure each of their children can receive the Catholic educational opportunities that are uniquely right for them.

Fifteen-year-old Joshua is a sophomore at Father Gabriel Richard in Ann Arbor this year. His siblings, Augustine (13), Ignatius (12), Thérèse (9), Simeon (7), and Clelia (5) all attend St. Mary Catholic School in Williamston. Maristella, two, and five-month-old Ambrose are too young for school, but Catholic education is in the cards for them, as well.

It’s a busy life for their parents. Steven is a truck driver for a small business in Grand Rapids that has him away from home two or three nights each week. While Hannah spends most of her time caring for the children, she also manages to fit in coaching Father Gabriel Richard’s varsity equestrian team in the fall, assistant coaching basketball at St. Mary’s School in Williamston during the winter months, coaching Fowlerville’s middle school equestrian team in the spring, and taking an active role at St. Mary’s school as a member of St. Mary’s Holy Family Alliance.

“We never thought we’d be able to afford Catholic school,” Hannah says. “So we have pursued the best options for each child, including homeschooling. We really love the classical approach, which brings each child the good, the true, the beautiful. We began to want more of that for each of our children.”

Soon, however, the growing family realized it was becoming overwhelming to homeschool.

“We enrolled the kids in St. Mary’s a couple of years before the pandemic,” Hannah remembers. “Father Mark introduced the thousand-dollar tuition amount, and they began advertising that they were going classical. At that level, and with the diocesan grants we receive, what we’re paying is equivalent — or even a bit less — than what we would pay to homeschool.”

During the pandemic, the Hansen kids did resume their learning at home temporarily. They returned to school last year.

“I do consider homeschooling a great Catholic option,” Hannah says. “With our family, we kind of evaluate every year where we are and what each child needs.”

When her oldest was preparing for high school, God began to provide in extraordinary ways. He helped the Hansens discover a support system they didn’t recognize before.

“I’ve coached for Father Gabriel Richard for 13 years, but before Joshua entered high school, I told them I needed to resign to help make that happen,” Hannah says. “But then someone I had coached, who lived in Howell, offered to help with the drive. So we did apply, and the first year they gave him a full scholarship and they even gave me a raise just to try and keep me on as a coach.”

Both Steven and Hannah are prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure their children grow up with a Catholic worldview. Today, Hannah’s parents provide a great deal of help and practical support, which helps keep the family moving in the right direction. “We couldn’t do it without them,” Hannah says.

And so far, it’s working.

“Since I wasn’t raised Catholic and converted when I married Hannah, I can appreciate more deeply the value of the faith,” Steven says. “I see the meaning it brings to life, and I know it’s the foundation of who my children are going to be. It’s very important to both of us to ensure our children receive that gift, so we want it to be in every part of their lives.”

Both schools offer the Hansens just what they hope for their children — a high-quality education that keeps Christ at the center.

“The Mass, adoration, and reconciliation — these are there for them on a daily basis,” Hannah says. “And that’s all we want — for our children to know, love, and serve God and have a real relationship with Jesus — and in the end, get to heaven. That’s our highest hope, and our best ambition.”