The primary focus of the Family Ministry and Life Issues Working group in the last year has been the formation of parish based family ministry co-ordinators or small parish based family ministry teams.
In preparation for this we spoke with the priests of the diocese about our plans, encouraging your support and the involvement of your parishes. Then we highlighted the value of parish based family ministry at twelve family prayer evenings during Lent, one in each of the vicariates in the diocese.
The first four-session training course for parish family ministry co-ordinators was held in September 2006 in Mouth Oliver. Six people from the parishes of Lower Killeavy and Carlingford/Omeath participated in what proved to be a very enjoyable and successful course. One of the participants, Marie McMullan, said afterwards:
“One of the things that struck me was how much in common the two parishes had. Six people from diverse home and work environments could come up with sensible, practical starter solutions to bringing families together as domestic churches.
We all realise that families as domestic churches are something that already exist, but it is also something that the church needs to nurture and develop. We also realize that it is not something that is going to happen overnight. With the help of God, the church communities in our diocese, the clergy and the family ministers, we will build a strong sense of family and community in our parishes and strengthen our faith.”
Now that two parishes have formed family ministry co-ordinators the focus for the next year is to extend the number of parishes that have family ministry co-ordinators to the point where there is a family ministry co-ordinator or team in every parish of the diocese. Our next four-session training programme will be held in the New Year in the northern part of the diocese. The dates are Wednesday 31 January (7.30pm – 9.30pm), Saturday 3 February (10.00am – 4.00pm) and Wednesday 7 February (7.30pm – 9.30pm). We request that parishes in that part of the diocese take some time to recruit one-to-four parishioners to participate in the training course. We will write to you about this matter.
We will also continue with other aspects of the work. The participants at the training course were very impressed with our Family Ministry policy. We will be promoting it more widely in the next year. You will have been invited at this conference to order copies of the Advent family resource and we are presently exploring the possibility of holding a family Lenten retreat.
Co Chairs: Fr. Andy McNally and Ms. Debra Snoddy