Welcome to Our lady and the Apostles Parish....
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We have New Family Groups open to all.... That meet and enable everyone to get to know each other (parishioners) in a friendly, safe and social enviroment. Dates of meetings are advertised in the weekly newsletter.
Fr. Pat Munroe
reflects on Australian Conference.On the weekend (31st May – 2nd June) I was in Melbourne for the annual Australian Directors Gathering of the Passionist Family Group Movement (PPFM)
by kind invitationof
the Provincial Fr. Tom McDonough CP. Whatever misgivings I may have had inaccepting the invitation to travel such a great distance and spend a weekend withpeople I had never met, they soon dissipated with the warmth of welcome
I received.It was in
keeping with the Motto of the Movement, a ‘Family for All.’
What attracted me to the Movement, and still does, is its rootedness in the ordinariness of life, and with a little imagination I believe it can work in our parishes. The aims are very simple, for people to get to know each other as members of the Parish, to support each other, sharing joys and sorrows, building the Christian community, as in the early Church. “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Fr. Peter McGrath, Passionist Priest, formed the first Family Groups in a smallbut growing parish on the outskirts of Sydney in 1972. It grew out of therealisation that people who came together as a community at Mass did notknow one another. From small beginnings the spread of the Movementaround Australia began in 1985. The Movement is present in over 400parishes in 20 Australian Dioceses, including Parishes in Anglican Dioceses.Family Groups began in New Zealand in 1988 and are in more than 80parishes in all 6 Dioceses, including Baptist, Anglican and PresbyterianParishes. They are in early stages in England, Ireland, and the United States.
Family Groups – Social or Religious?Jesus would have found this a strange distinction, but some people still ask the question. When we lean to accept others who are different from us, and when we offer welcome, love, and care and enjoy doing it, then God is there right in the middle of it. Faith is caught in as much as it is taught, and there is a lot of “faith catching” in Family groups. They are one way that we can build up the spirit of community in our Parish.
Down to earth spiritualitySt. Paul of the Cross (1694‐1775) is Founder of the Passionist Order. Paul speaks of the Passion of Jesus as “the most overwhelming sign of God’s love.” The two dominant Scripture texts) he used in writing his rule are Philippians 2:5‐11 (self‐emptying of Jesus) and Mark 6:7‐13, (Mission of the twelve) that the disciples were to go out in two’s as Jesus did. The key to Passionist spirituality is to ‘promote the ‘living memory of the passion’ with a special emphasis on being down to earth. The logo of the Passionist Order is that of the Cross above a heart, where as for the Family Movement the Cross is placed in the centre of a heart encircling three generations of a Family. What can be more earthed than making incarnate the passionate love of the risen Christ in wounded hearts where many feel isolated and long for a true experience of community?
What is their appeal?The major attraction is simplicity within an easy structure. A family group is ideallya grouping of 10/12 families reflecting all age groups and styles of family. Singlepeople, especially divorced and widowed find it non ‐ threatening. Partners ornon‐church goers feel welcome. People feel they are actually living their faith, so church going comes to mean something entirely different. Anyone can join; themotto is “A Family for All”. The purpose of a family group is to create a sense ofcommunity in the Church, and a sense of parish within the community.
Taking the plungeThe Marriage and Family Life Department of the Bishops Conference of Englandand Wales invited Fr. Peter McGrath in 2011 to pilot the movement in one parishwithin Dioceses that expressed an interest. As Chair of the Marriage and Family LifeCommission, and Parish Priest of St. Wilfrid’s in Northwich at the time I sowed anidea that took root and flourished beyond my wildest dream. Chris and Vince Joyce,co‐ordinators of the Family Groups at St. Bernadette’s Church, Whitefield, Manchester, where the movement still flourishes spoke at the Masses one Sunday;their presentation made a deep impression on the people. They paved the wayfor the visit of Fr. Peter McGrath, whose style and humour was somewhat moreextrovert. Much to my amazement 120 people ranging in age from 1‐92 turned up one dull October Sunday evening in the Parish Centre, not sure what to expect, andin a short time were mingling and mixing with each other with the kind of ease thattakes years to create. Group leadership is crucial to the success of family groups,and we were fortunate in having six couples who agreed to take on the role. Six groups were created and were given the task of organising a simple social event totake place within a month for people to get to know each other.
Making a DifferenceThe first noticeable difference was that more people got to know each other byname and were more inclined to stay behind after Mass to speak with each other.Those who were retired or lived on their own had events to look forward to, andoverall there was a greater sense of being a community. It was one of the mostexciting and riskiest adventures I had taken on in parish ministry, and though I wasmoving on to a new assignment within three months, I did so with the convictionthat once established they had the potential to grow and make a difference forgood, whilst recognising that bringing people together is at once simple andcomplex.
A new landscapeWhat impressed me during my time in Australia was in the great number of peoplewho shared their experience of being part of a family group over many years. Oneof the great plus factors is in giving them a greater sense of ownership for theirparish community, especially at a time when an increasing number of parishes arebeing clustered, and a priest has responsibility for more than one parish. Familygroups can be a bed rock for bringing parishes together and in turning a cross ofgrief into a cross of hope. In a changing landscape forming groups presents a biggerchallenge but the message, ‘love one another as I have loved you’ and the need for belonging remains the same. This too is our reality, and as we know fromexperience, the biggest fear for people is the loss of the sense of community.
An InvitationThe Marriage and Family Commission of the Bishops’ Conference are in the processof producing a DVD on Family Groups as a support for parishes and Dioceses.You can watch an interview they did with me on U tube by simply inserting Fr. PatMunroe into the ‘Google’ search engine. What first inspired me was watching theDVD ‘Matters of the Heart’ which can be seen on the Passionist Family Movement website: email@example.com . Fr. Peter McGrath is intending to visit England inOctober and would be willing to meet with and encourage parishes seeking to doas Jesus ‘love one another as I have loved you. As chair of the Marriage and Family Life Commission I would love to hear from you.
Within each of us there is a Passionist heart in need of awakening.Gwen Winter‐Scheidt Queensland DirectorBarbara Lunnon ‐ Family Group AdministratorDirectors of Family GroupFather Peter