Our Passionist Family Groups
The heart of parish life is community, a sense of family.
Their aims are to help people feel they belong, welcome people who have felt alienated, provide support for people in time of need, enable people to feel accepted, provide a "learning” environment for children, help build a community atmosphere, encourage various forms of leadership, assist people to live their faith.
Where did Passionist Family Groups come from?
Begun in Terrey Hills Parish in northern Sydney in 1972, by 1982 they started spreading across Sydney and other parts of Australia. They began in New Zealand in June 1988 through the good work of Fr Brian Traynor CP and Lyn & Rob Hill in Hamilton Diocese. They are in more than 80 parishes in all 6 dioceses (including Anglican, Baptist, Co-operating and Presbyterian Parishes).In a smaller way they have grown in the USA, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Is it Social or Religious?
Jesus would have found this a strange distinction, but some people still ask the question. When we learn to accept others who are different from us, and when we offer welcome, love and care and enjoy doing it, then God is right there in the middle of it. Many people believe that faith is ‘caught’ rather than ‘taught’ and there is a lot of ‘faith-catching’ in Family Groups.
What is their Appeal?
The major attraction is simplicity and lack of organisational structure. Single people, especially divorced and widowed people, find it non-threatening. Non-church goers and non-catholics feel welcome. People feel they are actually living their faith, so church-going comes to mean something entirely different, and it is an involvement for a couple or a family to share together.
Can anyone join?
The simple answer is yes. Anyone and Everyone! The Family Group motto is "A Family For All”
What is a Passionist Family Group?
Each group has somewhere between 8-12 families. In forming the groups we try to match children of a similar age and a cross section of adults and children so that it resembles an extended family. Geographical areas are not considered as criteria for placing people in a group. Each group is encouraged to develop its own flavour while remaining a part of the Parish extension of the Family Group Movement. In Marlborough Parish we see it as a possible structure to develop social connections in our smaller communities.
What do Groups do?
The emphasis is on building relationships. Each group is encouraged to get together once a month, sometimes with the children and at other times only with the adults. These gatherings allow people to get to know one another, and then in natural ways, group members begin to create bonds with others. With the building of bonds comes the opportunity to form friendships, have fun, extend acceptance and support, and quite simply and joyfully, experience Christian life with others. The emphasis is on low-cost enjoyment and allowing everyone to feel a part of the "family”. It’s not a meeting, nor a prayer group. It’s a Family Group.
How can Passionist Family Groups help Star of the Sea grow?
The networking of families has a positive effect on liturgy because more people know each other and more of them are keen to become involved in the life of the parish community. Many pastoral needs such as people visiting one another, or helping each other in practical ways during special times of need, build community life and help people understand what belonging to a church really means. Family Groups do a great deal to support and encourage the life of the family as well as provide an important sense of family belonging for the many who have lost it through death or marriage breakdown.
"I look forward to our Family Group get-togethers. The positive feelings and good humour from all members of our group certainly guarantee a good time. Different individuals from all groups give each other tremendous support through good times and bad. It is through all this that I, my family and most others within the group have made extra sincere friendships as well as feeling part of a family.”
Is it a Lay Movement?
Family Groups offer an opportunity for laity, religious and priests to connect. It’s not work. Family Groups give significant opportunities for lay leadership, with an emphasis on strengthening marriage and family life.
"I am privileged to be accepted as the grandmother of our Family Group. The togetherness and caring I feel coming from the younger people gives me an extra leg to my family. My 75th birthday was celebrated with a surprise dinner and was the highlight of my year.”
"I have found as a parish priest I get to know and be known by parishioners in an easy and non threatening way.”
How about in a wide spread and diverse Parish like Star of the Sea?
There is no reason for Family Groups not to grow within our Communities. In the smaller Communities, a Family Group might be the social structure we need for people to come together and connect, and to include a wide community of people. With ease of connecting by car, people can join a Family Group in another Community if they wished.
Star of the Sea Parish FG Leadership Group
Mike & Cheryl Garrett (co-ordinators), Wally & Therese Amsler
Philip & Christine Eves, Frs John Pearce & Pat McIndoe
For More Information Contact
Parish Office 578 0038