Who is called to minister ?
and every one of us is gifted. We
all have something to offer; frequently our life experiences are our most
valuable gifts. Family ministry works best when it is a like-to-like or peer
the ecclesial community - the great
family made up of Christian families
- there will take place a mutual exchange of presence and help among all the
families, each one putting at the service of others its own experience of life,
as well as the gifts of faith and grace. (69)
this activity, married couples act in communion and collaboration with the other
members of the Church, who also work for the family, contributing their own
gifts and ministries. This
apostolate will be exercised in the first place within the families of those
concerned, (and) will also become wider through works of spiritual and material
charity towards other families, especially those most in need of help and
for working with families
Pope refers on a number of occasions to the need for training in family ministry
though families themselves are sufficiently qualified by their experience.
the light of this responsibility is the importance of proper preparation of all
those who will be more specifically engaged in this kind of apostolate…. (70)
person principally responsible in the diocese for the pastoral care of the
family is the Bishop. Bishops avail themselves especially of the priests, whose
task constitutes an essential part of the Church’s ministry regarding marriage
and the family. When they have
received timely and serious preparation for this apostolate (they) must act
unceasingly towards families as fathers, brothers, pastors and teachers,
assisting them with the means of grace and enlightening them with the light of
is especially necessary to recognise the unique place that, in this field,
belongs to the mission of married couples and Christian families, by virtue of
the grace received in the sacrament. This
mission must be placed at the service of the building up of the church, the
establishing of the Kingdom of God in history. (71)
models of ministry
ministry calls for a radical new way of working which does not send family
members in different directions. Families need help to spend more, not less,
the Christian family is a community…the family’s sharing in the Church’s
mission should follow a community pattern: the spouses together as a couple, the
parents and children as a family, must live their service to the Church and to
the world (50)
ministry is concerned with all
is quite clear that the Pope’s concern is for all families, not only Christian
couples and not only those in ‘regular’ situations.
Church’s pastoral concern will not be limited only to the Christian families
closest at hand; it will extend its horizons in harmony with the Heart of
Christ, and will show itself to be even more lively for families in general and
for those families in particular which are in difficult or irregular situations.
one is without a family in this
world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who
“labour and are heavy laden”
special role of Christian couples
importance of married Christians cannot be overestimated:
their witness and their role is fundamental to the future of both Church
bond of love becomes the image and the symbol of the covenant which unites God
and his people….. God wills and communicates the indissolubility of marriage
as a fruit, a sign and a requirement of the absolutely faithful love that God
has for man and that the Lord Jesus has for the Church. To bear witness to the
inestimable value of the indissolubility and fidelity of marriage is one of the
most precious and urgent tasks of Christian couples in our time.(12)
praise and encourage those numerous couples who, though encountering no small
difficulties, preserve and develop the value of indissolubility. But it is also
proper to recognise the value of witness of those spouses who, even when
abandoned by their partner, with the strength of faith and of Christian hope
have not entered a new union: these spouses too give an authentic witness to
fidelity, of which the world today has a great need.
For this reason they must be encouraged and helped by the pastors and the
faithful of the Church.(20)
love, a family is clearly not a family; the verb makes it become what it is, not
the noun. Family is more than
children, more than husband and wife: family is action - becoming what you are.
family, which is founded and given life by love, is a community of persons: of
husband and wife, of parents and children, of relatives.
Its first task is to live with fidelity the reality of communion in a
constant effort to develop an authentic community of persons.
The inner principle of that task, its permanent power and its final goal
is love: without
love the family is not a community of
persons and, in the same way, without love the family cannot live, grow and
perfect itself as a community of persons.(18)
members of the family….have the grace and responsibility of building, day by
day, the communion of persons, making the family
‘a school of deeper humanity’: this happens where there is care and
love for the little ones, the sick, the aged; where there is mutual service
every day; when there is sharing of
goods, of joys and of sorrows. (21)
task for the family is to form persons in love and also to practise love in all
its relationships, so that it does not live closed in on itself, but remains
open to the community, moved by a sense of justice and concern for others, as
well as by a consciousness of its responsibility towards the whole of society
needs of families
remember that the needs of families and of family ministers are similar in a
situation of like-to-like ministry. The Pope emphasises the need for family
catechesis, for training in family relationships, and for a wider understanding
by the parish and diocesan community of the impact of their policies on
absolute need for family catechesis emerges with particular force in certain
situations that the Church unfortunately experiences
..where.. ‘the Church of the home’ remains the one place where
children and young people can receive an authentic catechesis.
order that the family may be ever more a true community of love, it is necessary
that all its members should be helped and trained in their responsibilities as
they face the new problems that arise, in mutual service and in active sharing
in family life.
parochial community must become more vividly aware of the grace and
responsibility that it receives from the Lord in order that it may promote the
pastoral care of the family. No
plan for organised pastoral work at any level, must ever fail to take into
consideration the pastoral care of the family. (70)
the family means being able to
its values and capabilities, fostering them always.
the family means identifying
the dangers and the evils that menace it, in order to overcome them.
the family means endeavouring to create
for it an environment favourable for its development
means are there for discerning the
gifts of people in your parish ? Consider
your own life experiences. How might these be offered
in the service of others ?
many activities does your parish organise for families to do together ? How many
activities are designed only for certain family members ? What more could be
done to assist the community of the family ?
do your parish families need ? What processes for listening to families exist in
your parish ? What processes exist for matching up needs with experience ?
does your parish strengthen family life ? In what ways might it hinder family
life ? How do your families enhance
parish life ? In what ways might your families hinder parish life ?
organisations exist already in your parish ? How does their role match up with
the needs of your families ? What adjustments could be made to minister to
families without setting up another parish organisation ?
This document is available in illustrated hard copy for group work. Contact Elizabeth Davies for details.
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