It is not always easy being the parent of a teenager. The modern world seems to dictate that we all “have to be somewhere” all of the time, and we all seem inundated with information from our obligations, phones, Facebooks, friends or families. On the best of days, it sometimes feels difficult to pause. When my daughter’s high school, La Reina in Thousand Oaks, brought us the opportunity to send our sophomore, Emma, to Rome to sing at the Vatican, we knew it was our moment to pause. Despite the sacrifices, it was the chance of a lifetime for us to encourage her to share her gift of song with others in our faith tradition, in a place that we hold sacred. Emma and I embarked on a journey together, a mom and a daughter, but I came out of this trip understanding more about her faith, her friends, her grace and her strength. Although I went to La Reina and am a devout alumna of the school, I have no delusions of grandeur. Emma is a normal teenage girl, with normal teenage reactions, compulsions and emotions. While the classical education is still just as excellent as when I attended La Reina, Emma’s education is exactly what she wills it to be. In Italy I was reminded of how she has outdone me in so many ways: She is bright, has devoted herself to the performing arts, made excellent friends, and has the La Reina grace and poise already. You see, even the most rebellious La Reina grad will possess a self-assurance in most situations that is second to none — calm, assured, bright and articulate. I saw these qualities in the La Reina singers in Italy, and most especially in my own daughter. Not only did it cause me to pause, but it also took my breath away.It had already been a long day, but without complaint, the girls changed into their singing gowns for Mass. I sat with other parents and waited in the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica. All that day, parents and girls both were awed by the beauty of the sacred grounds, the art and the ability to touch and connect with history. Now, as the sun began to lower in the sky, it graced the windows of St. Peter’s with rays of lights that seemed to highlight new niches and nooks that I had not noticed in the artwork before. My eyes traveled downwards in the light to look on a statue of St. Peter — and I saw my daughter walking towards me, a young woman now, modestly dressed with the light dancing on her hair. It was almost as if St. Peter himself was beckoning me again to pause. My breath faltered as they stood in the choir area. While I was filled with doubt and worry — after all, this was their first performance in a foreign place — each of the girls had the calm composure of professionals at work. They were at home.They were at home in the church — a place they had come to share their gifts, to love with their voices and to fill up with renewed spirituality, morals and values. They were at home with each other; they were at home with their God. God was with them that night, in that sacred space and moment. And they seemed to know how to pause. As I heard my Emma’s voice blend with the other voices and carry through the great dome that night, I realized how much they were ministering to others. The La Reina singers had come to Rome to learn, share and grow, but they left having filled the hearts of the pilgrims all around us. There was a young Polish family with two small children seated next to me. The mother held their 18-month-old baby girl tightly, while the father pointed out art and statues to their 3-year-old boy. I remembered doing that with my own babies, not so long ago.My daughter’s voice, now a young woman’s voice, wafted through the basilica with strength and grace. She no longer needs me to hold her tight like that young mother seated next to me, but she does need me to pause, notice and encourage her graceful ministry to others. Kris Chisholm teaches English at La Reina High School in Thousand Oaks. A La Reina alum, she attends St. Peter Claver Church in Simi Valley and Holy Cross Church in Moorpark.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0830/btsparent/{/gallery}