There is a growing emphasis in parishes throughout the Diocese of Owensboro to strengthen the parish family while also building the family in the home (the domestic church) by involving families in the life of the parish; an idea that is fully supported by Bishop Medley’s focus on Living as Missionary Disciples and Pope Francis’ focus on Amoris Laetitia/The Joy of Love: On Love in the Family.
The challenge is not to fall into the thinking that adding more events and programs to families who are already overly committed is the answer. The other way of thinking is to involve families into ministries that already exist in the parish. Or take full advantage of opportunities when parents or families are already coming to the parish property. And to use new events as an entry point into the life of the parish by attracting families who are not already involved.
That being said, here is a collection of Parish Family Life event ideas that parishes in the Diocese of Owensboro have found successful:
St. Jerome (Fancy Farm) gives a copy to every family enrolled in PRE. It includes: The Gospel from Sunday Mass, Short reflections on the Sunday Gospel, Prompts for conversation before and after Mass, Suggested family activities, Index of everyday family prayers
- Backpack blessing at weekend Masses during the start of the school year
- “Kids Corner” at Mass with bulletins for children each week. Here are two options for resources:
- Advent Celebration – a Family event with Advent wreath making activity, potluck, fun kids activities. Or family Advent prayer stations.
- Advent Penance Service followed by Christmas caroling and cookies in the parish hall.
- Family Dance with themed meal and decorations. Examples: St. Patrick’s Day with a focus on Saints. Valentine’s with focus on love. Etc.
- Family Outdoor Movie Nights
- Parish Feast Day Potluck – Potluck dinner with table cards to discuss and learn about the namesake of the parish.
- Valentine’s Day Dance – Dinner and dance with a blessing of couples
- Lenten lunches – Guest speaker and soup luncheon during lunch hour Wednesdays during Lent.
- Donuts after Mass – Fellowship with coffee and donuts after Mass in vestibule or parish hall.
Ways to involve families in Sacramental Prep:
The basic idea here is to involve parents in the formation of their children as “primary catechists.”
- “Belonging” Baptism preparation by Ascension Press
- Parents involved in prayer days and “at home” sessions with their children in First Communion/First Reconciliation preparation
- Parents and sponsors involved in Confirmation Preparation meetings, service projects, retreats etc
Parish Family Life – Where and how to start?
- It takes a community of committed people to coordinate and active parish family life ministry. Here are some strategies that parishes with thriving family life ministries recommend:
- Most parish councils have a “family life” liaison. That person and a few more members are enough to get the committee going.
- It helps to have someone on the parish staff on the committee to book parish spaces for events, etc.
- When forming a committee, it’s helpful to get perspective from different demographics of parish family life. For example, it’s helpful to have someone from various life stages: retired or empty nesters, married with young children, newly married, homeschool parent, parents of kids involved in sports, etc
- For convenience, some family life committees meet in homes so kids can play in the next room while the meeting takes place.
- Some committees are structured where each person serves as “lead coordinator” for one event throughout the year and the other members serve as support. This structure spreads responsibility around while all still support each other by sharing ideas, input, and feedback for each event.