What can you do to promote family faith-sharing this Advent?
Bob and Mary Dalton have 5 children, 27 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren. They have had many highlights in their years as parents and grandparents, like watching their grandchildren win two Division 1 national championships, for example, but what tops their list is what they did as a family last Lent. In their home in Parker, CO, they invited all their local children and grandchildren, about thirty family members total, over for a soup supper, an episode of FORMED’s SYMBOLON, faith sharing, and prayer. What began as a desire to sincerely observe Lent as a family developed into something unexpected—a cherished tradition of family bonding. Now, every Sunday night, they gather for faith sharing on the Gospel reading and even conference call in the rest of the family from different parts of the country. Nothing has delighted Bob and Mary more than to see their family talking about the difference Jesus is making in their daily life. They are leaving a legacy of faith that will extend for generations!
The Church’s Responsibility for the Family
Families’ role in perpetuating authentic, faithful living is indispensable: “[T]he role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute” [CCC 2221]. Sadly, it is a small percentage of Catholic families who study the Faith, discuss it, and pray together. This has resulted in a tragic exodus of so many young Catholics from the Church. So, it should come as no surprise that Pope St. John Paul II prioritized the Church’s focus on family faith formation. He wrote:
“No plan for organized pastoral work, at any level, must ever fail to take into consideration the pastoral care of the family” [Familiaris Consortio 70]
“[T]he Church considers serving the family to be one of her essential duties” [Letter to Families 2].
This is the task of both lay and ordained leaders in our parishes. In every pastoral work, we must take into account not just individuals, but families, and give families the tools they need to become what they are designed by God to be: intimate communities in which the faith is fostered by relationships that are closer than any other, bonded as family members are by both the physical and spiritual. St. John Paul II would exhort families to “become what you are!” and it is the responsibility of the Church and her members to help families recognize and answer this call [Familiaris Consortio 17].
What Can You Do?
This Advent is the perfect time for your parish to invest in its families. FORMED presents a tremendous opportunity for you and the other leaders in your parish to actualize this priority of family faith formation. With access to great Catholic content via the internet, families simply need to be encouraged to log onto FORMED and be directed to specific content—like the Daltons with SYMBOLON. This Advent, FORMED offers a study for families to experience together. ANIMA is a visually stunning and thought-provoking series of videos with accompanying discussion guides to help families focus on the reason for the season.
To help you encourage every family in your parish to partake in this study, utilize our ANIMA promotional materials. In addition to a pulpit pitch script, a business card, a flyer, bulletin blurbs, and homily talking points, there are also digital promotional resources which enable you to create a registration banner for your parish website: one click takes them to the registration page with your access code already there. And utilize the brand new Custom Registration URL, which makes new user registration simpler than ever before, eliminating the need for an access code and simplifying the registration process to just one easy step!
Catholic family life is hope for the world! Let’s do all we can to strengthen the domestic Church!