The idea of a special day for Family Groups came from the members of Family Groups in London, UK. Our very first celebration day was on Sunday 7th of May 2000.
Our Founder, Father Peter McGrath, and the NSW and INTL PFGM offices were then at the Passionist Monastery at St. Ives when Father Peter wrote to encourage parishes to bring all their people together to celebrate the Eucharist with Family Group members participating in the Liturgy.
He suggested that during the celebration, a renewal, recruitment drive or re-commissioning of the Family Group Leaders or other special recognition could take place to recognise the contribution Family Groups have made to the Paris
Fr. Tom McDonough, the then Pastor of St. Anthony in the Fields, Terrey Hills, had special medallions made and each of the 400 world-wide Family Group parishes received one as a commemorative gift from the Parish.
Coming from St. Anthony’s was significant as this parish was the ‘birthplace’ of the Family Group Movement in 1972. In those beginning years, the people of St. Anthony’s never thought they were starting a ‘Movement’, let alone one that God would bless so richly through people willing to give of themselves so generously. The community grew thanks to the friendships, relationships and extended family that developed between people who might otherwise have remained anonymous faces in church on Sundays. The rest, as they say, was history!
The idea was immediately taken up by Family Group parishes across the globe and ever since then, the 1st Sunday in May continues to be celebrated.
This cannot end without relating Father Peter’s initial suggestion for celebration after the Eucharist. In his words:
“After the Eucharist let there be time for some fun and family spirit. All our countries love and make fruitcakes. Though all these fruitcakes will have differences, they are still fruitcakes
There’s something about the ingredients of a fruitcake. There are cherries, dried fruit, raisins, good old rum or whisky and even nuts! They all come together to make a delicious fruitcake, just as so many different people come together to make a Family Group”
And so it was. We heard from many parishes that delighted in the variety of fruitcakes that were produced, shared, enjoyed and even sent abroad to their ‘twin’ Family Group parish.