Throughout the world on this Sunday Family Groups gather in their parishes to put into practice their motto, “A Family for All” with the Eucharist followed by a feast for everyone.
Family Groups began right here in the Broken Bay Diocese in 1972 in the tiny church, St. Anthony in the Fields, in rural Terrey Hills. Now part of the Frenchs Forest Parish.
The intimate little community there, where people cared for each other, began to grow quickly. It was feared that the familiar community spirit would be lost, so the first Family Groups were formed.
Everyone was welcomed to belong to an extended family. Each Family Group was made up of all ages, nationalities and circumstances. Young children brought such life to the Group.
Faces were changed into names. Names were changed into friends. Friends into one big family, as in the Early Church. It was all so simple.
This is happening ecumenically in over 400 parishes throughout Australia and New Zealand. Here in the Broken Bay Diocese 18 of our 30 parishes have Family Groups.
Family Groups are also in the UK, Ireland and the USA, where their first Family Group was formed in a maximum security prison, among the senior ‘lifers’.
A brilliant article in the Christmas edition of Broken Bay News listed the strengths of family:
- Appreciation for one another
- Spending time together
- Good communication patterns
- Commitment to one another’s welfare & happiness
- Coping with crisis
A Group Leader “Servant to the Group” – “At present we are organising a roster to drive a dear member to visit her husband in hospital with a stroke and for the men to cut her lawns”
A valiant woman, who came into a Family Group following her mother’s death only weeks after her husband left her, testifies,” As the months, then the years have gone by, I realise my Family Group has become for me the most incredible family. It’s changed my whole life; my way of thinking. I’ve learnt to trust again.”A senior member – “We joined some twenty years ago and we still meet monthly. We have minded each other’s children. Lost a young father with cancer and helped at the funeral and onwards with his little family. Celebrated First Communions, Weddings and Anniversaries. Our annual home Mass and Weekend away have brought us ever closer.
These stories are repeated again and again.
Family Groups are the Early Church revisited – God’s Love made Visible in Family life.
This is why the Family Groups gather to celebrate this day.
“A Family for All” is our aim. What a challenge in today’s world.
Coordinator Passionist Family Group Movement
Frenchs Forest Parish, NSW