August 11, 2023

‘We say yes to God’

St. Thomas More family wins K of C International Family of the Year award

(En Espanol)

The Cabrera family poses outside of their home in Camby. They are, from left, Daniel, Maria, Fatima Lucia, Joseph, Daniel, Gianna, David and Sara. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

The Cabrera family poses outside of their home in Camby. They are, from left, Daniel, Maria, Fatima Lucia, Joseph, Daniel, Gianna, David and Sara. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

CAMBY—When you hear the words “are you sitting down” over the phone, you know the news is either very good or very bad.

For Maria Hernandez, the news her husband Daniel Cabrera relayed after those words on May 6 was fantastic.

“When Daniel told me we won the Indiana [Knights of Columbus] Family of the Year, I just couldn’t believe it,” she says. “I just kept saying, ‘You’re joking, right? This is a joke.’ ”

Two months later, it was Daniel’s turn to be incredulous.

“I got the call around 3 p.m.—I know that because I was praying the Divine Mercy chaplet,” he says. “I don’t usually answer the phone then, but when I saw it was from the [Knights of Columbus] Supreme Council from Connecticut, I thought I better answer.

“At first, I thought it was a scam. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, are you serious?’ ”

The caller was serious: Daniel, Maria and their six children—all members of St. Thomas More Parish in Mooresville—had been chosen as the Knights of Columbus International Family of the Year. They received their award at the organization’s Supreme Convention on Aug. 1-3 in Orlando, Fla.

“This year, we received nominations from across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Poland and the Philippines,” says Steven Curtis, senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for the Knights’ Supreme Council.

“We feel like any regular family,” says Daniel, 44. “The only thing we do is say yes to God.”

That “yes” includes Daniel’s participation in the Knights of Columbus, the family’s active involvement in their parish, extensive support of both the couple and their children in pro-life ministry, and Daniel and Maria’s online marriage and family life ministry.

Their journey began in 2009 with two separate prayers of surrender.

‘Here’s the control, God—I’m done’

It was Christmas Eve, 2009, and Maria knelt in prayer after Communion. Beside her was her 3-year-old daughter Sara—the child she chose to keep rather than abort after her boyfriend deserted her during the unplanned pregnancy.

“God, all I really, really want is a family and a good dad for my daughter,” the unwed 29-year-old mother implored. “I’m just going to leave this to you, God, because you know what’s in my heart, and I know you want the best for us.”

A week later, while Maria and Sara were at a New Year’s Eve gathering at the home of Sara’s babysitter, Daniel was at home saying his own prayer of surrender.

“I’m sick and tired of my heart being broken and trying to find the right person who shares my values,” the 31-year-old man admitted in prayer. “So, here’s the control, God—I’m done.”

His phone rang, but Daniel had a migraine and chose not to answer.

The message he played back the next morning was from his cousin saying, “Daniel, I need you to come over here! We found the perfect girl for you!”

Daniel’s cousin was Sara’s babysitter, and the “perfect girl” was Maria.

The two met two days later—Maria calls it “love at first sight.” She and Daniel were engaged within six weeks and married that April.

Thirteen years and 10 children later—including Sara, whom Daniel adopted, and four miscarried children—Maria and Daniel still give control of their marriage and family to God.

But that surrender was an evolving process.

‘It was all part of God’s plan’

Daniel was raised Catholic while growing up in El Salvador. But when he was 13, his parents became Pentecostal Christians.

“When I met Maria, I had so many questions about the faith,” he says. “We had some really nice debates.”

“Oh, they were awful,” Maria interjects. “We ended up fighting every time.”

Still, the family grew. By the fall of 2012 they had two sons, Daniel and David.

The couple had agreed before marrying to practice a form of natural family planning (NFP). So, the couple was surprised when Maria became pregnant just a few months after David was born. She gave birth to Gianna in September 2013.

In studying a different form of NFP called the Creighton model, Daniel became “more and more interested in other teachings of the Catholic Church,” Maria explains. “And that’s how he came to believe that the Catholic Church had the truth.”

Daniel says the Knights played a role in his return to the faith as well.

“I really didn’t have any idea what the Knights did,” he says. “The more I learned, the more I saw they share our pro-life and pro-family values.” He officially became a member of the St. Thomas More Knights of Columbus Council #7431 a few years later in 2018.

Daniel had already received the sacraments of initiation as a youth. To make his “re-version” formal, he completed a Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults course, then went to his first confession in nearly 25 years.

Around the time of Gianna’s birth and Daniel’s return to the faith, the couple was learning to lean more on God.

“When we found out Maria was pregnant with Gianna, I was so worried about finances,” Daniel admits. “We were already paying almost $2,500 a month in day care alone.”

So, the couple prayed and gave control of the situation to God.

“Suddenly—I mean out of nowhere—I received a 44% raise,” he recalls. “From that point forward, I just threw my calculator out the window. I know that every time a baby arrives, it is a blessing from God, and he will provide.”

Maria was able to leave the workforce and focus on raising the children.

“It was all part of God’s plan,” says Maria. “It was around that time that two of our kids were diagnosed with different levels of autism, so I was able to give them the attention they needed to help them.”

It was also around that time that the couple started their online ministry, Daniel y Maria Online: Defendemos la Vida y la Familia—Daniel and Maria Online: Defending Life and the Family.

‘Everything we do, we take the whole family’

The ministry started simply. Maria posted pro-life articles and made short videos promoting 40 Days for Life.

Then Daniel had an idea.

“I suggested why not film a video about her testimony, about how she was confronted with choosing life or death for Sara, and why she chose life,” he recalls.

“That video became viral. And after that video, we made more and more and more videos. And that’s how our ministry started growing and growing and growing. And we reached people around the world—we were blown away.”

Daniel and Maria’s online site,, now offers videos, blogs and information on pro-life and pro-family issues, including the Creighton model, marriage preparation, human sexuality, post-abortion healing, even finances—Daniel is a certified master financial coach.

The couple give talks and retreats, lead marriage preparation classes and have even been interviewed on EWTN en Español and EWTN Radio Catolica Mundial.

Leaving the workforce also freed Maria to “fulfill her dream of working in the pro-life movement,” says Daniel.

She volunteers extensively—particularly in Spanish—with at least six local and national pro-life organizations and participates in and presents at Hispanic pro-life conferences in and outside of Indiana. Her efforts have earned her awards from the archdiocese and Right to Life Indianapolis (RTLI).

Whether it’s a pro-life prayer vigil in Indianapolis or the national March for Life in Washington, some or all of the couple’s children are in tow, including Joseph, 7, and Fatima Lucia, 2.

“Everything we do, whether we are traveling just for pleasure or because we have been invited to an event, we take the whole family,” says Daniel. “That’s our mantra: the whole family needs to be together, and the whole family needs to pray together—even if it takes an

hour-and-a-half to get through the rosary with six kids.”

By involving the children in their ministry and living faithful Catholic lives, Daniel and Maria’s efforts have become a family affair.

Sara, 16, co-founded Homeschoolers for Life last year. Daniel, 12, and Gianna, 9, have made videos for the online ministry. Daniel and David, 10, are altar servers at St. Thomas More, while Sara and Gianna sing in the parish’s choir.

“Gianna is all about the saints,” says Maria. “She’s always reading about them, talking about them, drawing them.

“And Joseph loves priests. People will ask him, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ And he always says, ‘A priest.’ ”

‘The only thing we do is say yes to God’

Looking at the criteria for the Knight’s International Family of the Year award is like reading a description of the Cabrera family.

The nomination form asks several questions: Does the family spend quality time together, attend weekly Mass together, pray together outside of Mass? Has the family made significant contributions to their parish and church community? Does the family serve as a model of Catholic family values?

“The Cabrera family was selected because of the great work they do for the Knights of Columbus, their tireless volunteer efforts within their parish and community, as well as their strong pro-life witness,” says Curtis. “Daniel and his wife Maria, along with their six children, are an example of what it means to be an exemplary Catholic family.”

Maria adds a dose of reality to the accolades.

“We’re not perfect,” she says. “We have our difficult moments and trials. And sometimes the mission and tasks are hard. But we pray, and God always gives us a clear sign of the next little or big project he wants us to work on.”

Daniel nods in agreement.

“Basically, what we’re doing is just sharing with the world how much we love Christ and how much we love our faith.” †

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