Family life ministry is the name the church gives to its concern for all families – and its not limited just to those in the church, but extends that care, in harmony with the Gospel, to all, particularly those who are in difficult situations. The church recognises that Christian households are gifted by God, and these gifts, including the wisdom that comes from living in community together, are shared in service to the church and the world.
Family ministry, in common with all ministry in the Church, means working together – to identify and release the gifts of all baptised persons. The most effective family support is a collaborative peer ministry: as Pope John Paul II said in his address to families in Rome (1994):
‘To you families, I repeat: Be not afraid! The Lord is calling you to become leaders of a new season of hope in the Christian community and the world.’
Why is family ministry necessary?
Life can be fraught! Challenges can leave people feeling isolated, uneasy, adrift. A specific ministry for families is a sign that we care, and place importance on the role of families in living out our faith. It is a way of caring for all God’s people, building friendships.
What sort of areas are included in ‘family ministry’?
- preparation for marriage
- on-going support and celebration of marriage
- Liturgy, includingliturgy of the Word, and prayer with children
- parenting support (eg Family Caring Trust programmes)
- the home-school-parish links
- interchurch and interfaith families
- separated, divorced, remarried – families that are hurting
- step families
- support and inclusion of older people
- support and inclusion for those with mental health problems
- support and inclusion for gay people
How might we set up a Family Ministry group or team in our parish? No experts needed!
Family ministry teams are beginning to sprout in the diocese, taking various forms. If you are interested in supporting family life in your parish or area, try and find one or two others, and speak to your Parish Priest about your ideas.
- What is good about family life today? What are the challenges? What are our hopes for marriage and family life in our parish/parishes? What are the needs at the moment? Are there any that we feel we could begin to address. What simple structures do we need to support this ministry?
The ideas and plans could include anything from a marriage preparation or parenting course, to a parent support group, sharing scripture together as parents, visiting sick or parents with any sort of problems and support them with cooking, cleaning, childcare, chat etc… It depends on your parish and its needs. Together you can raise awareness of the needs of families, and to make sure that the ‘family voice’ is heard in the parish and local area conversations.
If you do need further support or training (eg in listening skills, group facilitation, parenting programmes, etc) then contact the Diocese via the Celebrating Family Project worker email@example.com or the adult formation adviser firstname.lastname@example.org