Amid a cool and slightly damp Sunday the spirit of Family Groups shone brightly at St Anthony’s on Sunday 26 July. The original Lunnon Family Group celebrated its 25th anniversary, attracting over 70 of its members from three generations. Original members, some of whom have moved on from the parish, children who grew up and are now making their own life, and recent additions in the shape of grandchildren, all responded to the call to gather, catch up and reminisce on 25 years of Family Group life.
The afternoon commenced with a reflective and memorable mass celebrated by Fr Peter McGrath, the Family Group Movement’s founder. This special liturgy was supported by five of the groups’ children who learnt and played traditional Family Group mass songs, and a walk-down-memory-lane PowerPoint display of photos from our Family Group Function Journals. The young children crowded around Fr Peter at the altar, just as the young always have in our church and at home masses celebrated over the years.
Following mass we adjourned to the kitchen where abundant amounts of food, drinks and stories were freely shared between family and friends. It seemed a bit like the feeding of the five thousand as there were more than 12 baskets (or was it plates) filled with leftovers as many hands again pitched in to clean and tidy the kitchen.
A couple of notable comments on the day. One by Michael Paton:
“We used to belong to this group but now we are in another Family Group.” To which Fr Peter humbly, yet profoundly reminded all of us that, once you are a member of a Family group, you are always a member..
Another by John Sheerin, an original member who went on to start and lead the Sheerin Family Group: “… although our church/parish community has changed and been through so much in recent years the survival and strength of so many active family groups is its lasting legacy.”
As we celebrated and shared our story on that day we created another family memory for everyone in attendance.
It has taken 25 years for our Family Group to journey to this point. Through commitment to the Family Group and willing participation in monthly Family Group activities we have all developed, to some level, a knowledge and understanding of each other that has contributed to a rich ‘family life’ where all our members know they are loved and accepted as they are. Just as we experience imperfect living and relationships in our own families, Family Group life is not always perfect. However, my enduring experience of our Family Group has been life-giving.
The motto of the Family Group Movement is A Family for All. Reflecting on our Family Group’s 25th anniversary celebration, I realise just how much that belonging to “A family for all” contributes to “living the good life”.