Faithful are called to nurture, provide for marriage, families in the Year of St. Joseph
July 13, 2021
Teleprompter setup by Hector Perez, production coordinator, during the Family Life Ministry’s production of “Fe y Finanzas Familiares.” (Photo by Ricardo Medina)
HOUSTON — As the Catholic Church continues to celebrate the “Year of St. Joseph” proclaimed by Pope Francis in Dec. 2020, this beloved patron saint of the universal Church and protector of families is a reminder of the faithful’s call to diligently nurture and provide for the needs of the family of God.
This is the focus of the Family Life Ministry of the Archdiocese that provides creative and effective responses, strategies and goals to assist the faithful in creating a better society and world by strengthening marriages and family units.
According to the Family Life Ministry’s director, Ricardo Medina, the ministry’s focus can be “unpacked” into four strategic mandates: form, reveal, enjoy and protect that are carried out by 48 active ministries serving 360,000 Catholic families annually. Resources include the discernment of marriage, marriage preparation, couple enrichment, parenting education, ongoing support and assistance with transitions, and many other additional initiatives under evaluation or development.
Medina said he encourages the faithful in the Archdiocese, including priests and deacons, parish staff, parents, couples and young adults to, “consider Family Life Ministries as their partners in this beautiful journey of forming, revealing, enjoying and protecting our communities of love present at every home.”
“For better or worse, in sickness and in health, we are called to serve every person in our community as a member of the family of God,” said Medina. “Each day, our ministers search for best options, empower the network of collaborators, develop initiatives for addressing underserved needs, and roll out ministries in collaboration with our parishes, striving to maintain a homogeneous and high-level implementation. This level of specialization is beyond the capabilities of any parish, and it is only possible through the ongoing work of a focused team Archdiocesan-wide.”
While the pandemic seriously constrained the capacity of the retreat and preparation centers, Medina said the ministry continued to conduct marriage preparations online, revisited and improved all ongoing programming, and developed carefully assessed online ministry resources. They have seen the fruits in several initiatives that involve the four strategic mandates.
The first mandate, “form,” is found in a new faith formation program offered, “Full Participation in the Mass,” by Father James Burkart, former president of the Southwest Liturgical Conference. Medina said this is a profound and pastoral video series covering the fundamental aspects of the Mass and is recommended for facilitated small groups either in-person or online.
The second strategy, “reveal,” is discovered in the mini-retreat, “Called by Name,” held in coordination with Father Kingsley Nwoko, parochial vicar of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. This retreat is designed to reveal the majesty of God’s will as young adults and dating or engaged couples discern the vocation to marriage.
“The third strategy, ‘enjoy,’ can be found in the Wedding Anniversary Jubilee Masses, which are back for an in-person celebration,” said Medina. “We are excited to welcome all jubilarian couples and families at the Co-Cathedral to enjoy the celebration as we honor our lifelong covenants and rekindle our vows.”
Medina said the “protect” strategy is found in the recently trained, first cohort of a new specialized ministry, Ministers of Consolation, designed to protect and accompany people in grieving processes gently.
Each of the four strategies are embedded in the “Before the Vows” weekend retreat for those in marriage preparation. One engaged couple, Eric Gou and Truc Le, that attended in May said they benefited greatly from the support and opportunities that were provided through the Family Life Ministry, especially the interaction with other Catholic couples and deeply exploring their faith, family life and call for a vocation to marriage.
“Similar to St. Joseph, who was committed to providing unconditional support and love to Mary, we hope to emulate him in our unconditional love for each other as we grow as a couple,” said Gou. “We want to bring children into this world and follow St. Joseph’s role as a parent ... [and be] completely obedient and trust in God’s plan.”
The Family Life Ministry is one of 60 ministries supported by the annual Diocesan Services Fund (DSF), which enables the depth and scope of the ministry’s programs, processes and services to nurture and protect marriages and families in the Archdiocese.
Viola Morales, who works as a Family Life Program Coordinator for the ministry and also received personal assistance with rearing her adolescent son and daughter, and dealing with her father’s cancer diagnosis, believes the faithful should support the DSF to help this ministry continue to grow and thrive.
“I encourage parishioners from across the Archdiocese to contribute to the DSF so that the development and expedition of support can be solidified and continued from the ritualization of our seven Sacraments to forming and maintaining enriched family roots, values and traditions,” said Morales. “I will never forget the years of experience that I gained in learning how much the Family Life Ministry helps, supports and enriches families through marriage preparation, natural family planning, marriage enrichment, family transitions and just sending out the good news of how much support is provided from other ministries in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.”
For more information about the Family Life Ministry and the 2021 DSF Annual Campaign, go to www.archgh.org.