Celebrating Parents’ Week 2002

The third annual Parents’ Week begins on Monday, October 21st 2002. Organised by the National Family and Parenting Institute, the week is a national celebration aimed at raising awareness of parents and families, and in particular, the importance of the way children are reared.

This year’s theme is “Images of Families”. In an examination of the ways in which families are perceived in Britain today, one national discussion will focus on the portrayal of families in TV soaps. But, from a faith perspective, Parents’ Week offers an ideal opportunity for families and their parishes to re-examine their own image of families and the role of the family in the broader context of church.  

This is especially timely given the recent publication of Evangelisation in England and Wales. The matter of “resourcing the domestic Church to assist families raise their children in the faith” was rightly recognised as a “priority” (p141). Connecting the domestic with the parish church in a way that fully appreciates and respects the characteristics, duties and responsibilities of each arena, remains largely unexplored territory. Perhaps Parents’ Week is the ideal time to begin this initiative.   

Suggestions for marking Parents’ Week

If you haven’t already done so, begin a listening process in the parish. Ask parents what they think the church could do to help them have a more satisfying family life. Gather oral or written responses from individuals, small groups or at a parish meeting. Reflect as a parish on the findings before exploring ways to respond to them meaningfully and positively. Encourage families to become what John Paul II has described as “leaders in this new season of hope” (Address to the World Meeting of Families 1994)

Enable parents to have some time alone without their children. Arrange an evening crèche or a babysitting service for the youngsters so that parents can have a breather. Encourage the adults to sit down, and relax rather than catch up on housework. If you don’t have sufficient volunteers consider employing childcare workers.

Arrange a parish social where all families are welcome. A barn dance is a great inter-generational activity, which also fosters community. Invite everyone to bring a dish to share in order both to reduce costs and emulate the early church.

Invite parishioners to bring pictures or photographs of their parents to the altar in your offertory procession at Sunday Mass. Put them on display over the next month while your community celebrates the divinity and humanity present in these people.

Distribute copies of the Bethany Family Institute booklet Seeing God in Love With Your Family. It helps parents and others to see how important they are in the development of their children’s relationship with God, and how everyday family life is packed with grace-filled moments.  Available at 20p a copy plus p&p, an order form is available at www.bethanyfamilyinstitute.com or by post from The Bethany Family Institute, PO Box 2858, Wolverhampton WV3 0XL. 

As a variation on the regular appeal on behalf of the missions, have a parent (or parents) speak for a few minutes at Mass on what their life is like, what it means to be a parent nowadays, and what kind of help they get, or may need, from the parish community. Many parents would find this daunting, but a ready–prepared talk, written in conjunction with other parents, might make it easier for them.

In your liturgies this week, reflect the huge variety of both parents and parenting styles. Pray for new parents, parents of toddlers, primary and school age children, parents whose children are becoming adults, parents whose children have left home, parents whose children have died, parents of sick and differently abled children, parents who struggle with difficult children. Pray for single parents, parents whose marriages are breaking down and for parents who are themselves sick or dying. Pray that the parents of your parish will receive the support they need as first teachers of their children. Pray that the families of your parish will grow in their priestly, prophetic and kingly responsibilities.

Devote your second collection on Sunday October 27th to the work of supporting parenting.

Invest in the parenting skills of your parishioners.  The Family Caring Trust offers inexpensive, stand-alone, kits for running courses (with a spiritual dimension) for parents of children of all ages. The latest offering ‘I Have a Million Things To Do’ is especially aimed at helping parents confirm their children’s faith. Family Caring Trust. 8 Ashtree Enterprise Park, Newry, Co. Down. BT34 1BY Tel: 028 3026 4174. Website: www.familycaring.co.uk

It's also One World Week this week. Check out their website and see what activities you might usefully combine to benefit families both at home and elsewhere.  

Further resources

Churches Together for Families has produced a set of resources called ‘Family Friendly Church’. These questionnaires, checklists and discussion tools can be downloaded free of charge from their web site and are also valuable for collaborating with your Christian neighbours to foster family ministry. Website: www.churchesandfamilies/resources/index.php

The National Family and Parenting Institute also have a downloadable pack for celebrating Parents’ Week. Website: www.nfpi.org

Final Word:

With widespread attention in the media, and from policymakers and professionals, Parents' Week focuses attention on the needs and concerns of parents, and aims to make Britain more family-friendly. As a faith-community that places family at the very centre of all that we do, our families deserve that we make our presence felt in this campaign.

Bethany Family Institute was created in October 2000 to resource the domestic church and those who work in supporting the domestic church. Bethany researches the spiritual experiences and needs of Catholic families, creates resources for meeting those needs, connects family workers in parishes and dioceses in the UK, Ireland and elsewhere, and is currently exploring educational opportunities for leadership in family ministry.  A quarterly newsletter Just between Us, an electronic alerting service Bethany Briefings, and a lectionary based programme The Nazareth Pages are all available from The Bethany Family Institute, PO Box 2858, Wolverhampton, WV3 0XL.

Email: [email protected]. Website: www.bethanyfamilyinstitute.com


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