In the late nineteen sixties and early seventies, members of the Passionist community of St. Ives, NSW, Australia, developed a team ministry for youth formation and adult education. A group of lay people collaborated in this team Ministry. When the Passionists, in 1972, assumed pastoral care of the new tiny parish of St. Anthony in the Fields, Terrey Hills, Fr. Peter McGrath C.P. became its first Pastor and once again these lay people supported him.
Out of this nucleus, the little parish attracted an extraordinary number of people of all walks of life and spiritual needs. In 1973, Fr. Peter gathered small groups of families to support and love each other. This was also a response to preserve the community spirit. From the heart of St. Anthony in the Fields came the Passionist Family Group Movement.
From the very beginning, the lay people were the backbone of this Movement. In 1983, Fr. Peter and his lay team were asked to introduce the Family Groups into Castle Hill, a large parish in Sydney.
In the years that have followed, the Movement has grown dramatically. Under the guidance of Fr. Peter, in collaboration with other Passionists and a growing lay leadership, the Movement was established in other parishes in Australia - first in Sydney, then in country New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia.
In 1988 history repeated itself. The Movement was invited into a little country parish of Paeroa in New Zealand . Once again, the Movement grew exponentially. With a dynamic combination of lay and Passionist workers, led by Fr. Brian Traynor C.P., the Passionist Family Groups became the largest Parish Movement throughout the country.
In the nineties, Passionist Family Groups reached the USA, significantly beginning in a maximum security prison at Dallas Pa. Family Groups followed within parishes in the States of Maine and Pennsylvania, as well as in the countries of England, Ireland and Scotland.
As of September 2010, there are approximately 3,100 Passionist Family Groups in over 420 parishes, with a total membership in excess of 100,000 people.
Father Peter McGrath cp