Indianapolis family has seven children in one school

INDIANAPOLIS – Sam Madden likes it that when he walks through the halls of St. Roch School in Indianapolis he’s likely to see another member of his family.
“It’s pretty cool,” said the 13-year-old. “You can walk down the hall and say hi to them. It brightens up the day.”
The seven Madden children – ranging in age from 5 to 13 – entered St. Roch School in Indianapolis Aug. 15 to start an unforgettable school year together.
While Sam heads for his eighth-grade classroom, 12-year-old Mike turns into the seventh-grade room. Eleven-year-old Jack greets his sixth-grade friends while 10-year-old Anna says hello to her friends in the fifth grade. Nine-year-old Kathryn settles behind her desk in third grade while 7-year-old Kimberly opens her desk in second grade. And, last but not least, 5-year-old Joe walks into his kindergarten classroom.
Having seven children in one school is a rare occurrence in today’s world. It’s also a reflection of Jim and Kitty Madden’s belief in Catholic education and their trust that God will provide for their family’s needs.
“I made a deal with the Lord,” Kitty Madden said. “I told him, ‘Give me all the children you want me to have. Just make sure I have all I need to take care of them.’“
God apparently has, including a healthy sense of humor for the couple.
“People always ask, ‘What’s it like with seven children?’“ Jim Madden said. “I tell them, ‘Remember that birthday party when your kids were 6, and everyone is running around, yelling and screaming? It’s just like that, except no one ever comes to pick up their kids.’“
But he added, “Now, they’re starting to help each other. They help each other with homework, school projects and practicing sports. There’s always somebody to play with.”
Jim and Kitty Madden, both 48, come from large Catholic families – she is one of 10 children and he is the youngest of six.
“When we had our oldest son, Sam, I loved him so much,” Jim Madden recalled. “When Kitty was pregnant the second time, I told her, ‘There’s no way I’ll love our second child as much as I love our first child.’ She told me not to worry, that God will figure a way out. The bottom line is you love each child in a different way. No matter how many children you have, there’s enough love for all of them.”
While Jim Madden works as a financial consultant, he also coaches football at St. Roch and helps lead the Cub Scouts at the parish. While caring for a family of nine – including constantly filling a washer and two dryers that seem to run nonstop – Kitty Madden still finds time to volunteer frequently at the school.
“They are active in everything,” said Joseph Hansen, the principal at St. Roch. “They have that energy and balance and spirituality. Their faith comes before everything. They really are a model family. They’re such an inspiration.”
The Maddens, on the other hand, say they get their inspiration from the school and the parish.
“Catholic education goes out of its way to make each child at the school feel special and unique,” Jim Madden said. “It’s so important while you’re molding their character and their self-esteem at that time in their life.”
“The best part is that they’re told about Jesus, his love and his mercy,” Kitty Madden said. “It’s mentioned every day in school. … I think the students feel a sense of belonging, that they’re part of a bigger family.”
Creating that sense of family begins at home for the Maddens in some special ways.
“Every year at tax season, I sort through all my receipts,” Jim Madden said. “When I go through our personal receipts, I write down in a family log what happened to us that year – whether we bought furniture, took a trip or if anybody had a broken bone or needed stitches. It creates a family history that’s fun. We read the log together, and the kids can add anything special that happened to them that year.”
Kitty Madden has also created a way for the children to remember and celebrate their childhood. She gives each of the children his or her own photo album, letting them fill it with whatever photos they want.
All the stories, all the moments add up to a way of life that the Maddens love.
“Family is everything to Jim and me,” Kitty Madden said. “If one of your children is not there, you’re missing a part of yourself. Family is the core of everything, with Jesus and God in the middle. Nothing is more important.”

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.