Family Life Ministry: Supporting and nurturing the gift of the domestic church on Christ’s foundation of love
July 12, 2022
Ricardo Medina, director of the Family Life Ministry, said there is a new level of awareness within the ministry about the importance of taking care of the most vulnerable and afflicted in families of today. (Photo by Nathan Dumlao/Unsplash)
HOUSTON — For a little over seven decades, the ministry in the Archdiocese that has been committed to helping families better understand what it means to be a member of God’s domestic Church is the Family Life Ministry. Currently, 59 active initiatives serve 360,000 Catholic families annually in four strategic mandates: “form,” “reveal,” “enjoy,” and “protect.”
“We provide caring and compassionate ministers that partner with couples and families in the beautiful journey of forming, revealing, enjoying, and protecting the communities of love present in every home,” said Ricardo Medina, director of the Family Life Ministry. “We aim to accompany them in their response to God’s call to a joyful life of love for the good of their families, the Church, and our society at large. With the reality of major challenges and conflict experienced during the pandemic and in its wake, there is a new level of awareness within our ministry about the importance of taking care of the most vulnerable and afflicted in our families.”
One example is the Ministry of Consolation which has been received with enthusiasm by many parishes over the last two years. The ministry provides training and formation opportunities to prepare facilitators of grief support groups at the parish level to ensure this support is being offered across the Archdiocese.
The ministry also has seen an increase in those individuals and family units struggling with financial difficulties and debt due to job changes, inflation, and increases in the cost of goods, such as rising gas prices.
Medina said he believes limited planning and a lack of understanding of financial systems are at the root of the problem. While he has witnessed a high level of activity by secular organizations and non-Catholics to help families address these tough issues, this ministry is uncommon and relatively new in the Catholic world.
To promote healthy finances at the family level in the Archdiocese, starting with a cultural translation in Spanish, Medina said a new program is being offered, “Fe y Finanzas Familiares” (“Faith and Finances”). The program offers a Catholic pastoral perspective with materials based on Holy Scripture, the rich traditions of the Catholic faith, and proven by time-tested money techniques.
“We want every family to receive the Good News of Christ in relation to our financial concerns and struggles with a pastoral understanding of budgeting, debt management and reduction, balancing work with family life, and engaging with the right habits that can change the lives of many families,” said Medina. “I encourage all parishes to implement this program that can change family dynamics for this generation and the next to come.”
Rosi and Felipe Rodriguez have been involved with several Family Life Ministry initiatives since 1999 as both participants and volunteers, which includes the “Compass Catholic” Bible study that focuses on long-term financial wellbeing.
In Jan. 2022, the Rodriguezes were among the first to attend the new Fe y Finanzas Familiares course offered in the Archdiocese, and a month later, they became volunteers and then facilitators.
They felt their experience with Catholic Compass for the past 10 years has been instrumental to growing their faith and now see the spiritual and practical advantages that Fe y Finanzas Familiares offers.
“In the beginning of our journey, we were so hungry for the Word of God, and as we started taking steps in our new lives in Christ, we realized how far we were from where God wanted us to be,” said Rosi Rodriguez. “Through Compass Catholic, we realized that we did not have the discipline or honesty about our finances through God’s perspective, and as soon as we started making real changes through the program, good things started happening, and our relationship with God was more real than ever. By continuing with Fe y Finanzas Familiares, our decisions of where our money will go based on God’s plan for us will continue to be liberating and true joy!”
The Family Life Ministry is one of 60-plus ministries supported by the annual Diocesan Services Fund (DSF), which enables the depth and scope of the ministry’s programs, processes, and services, like Fe y Finanzas Familiares, to remain in operation.
Other areas of focus include 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 the fruitful efforts of the ministry involve a high-level collaboration and implementation with lay ministers like the Rodriguezes at the parish level. Currently, there are over 400 ministers engaged in the ministry and more are needed to accomplish its mission.
“If more DSF funding were available, I would like to roll out our initiatives much faster in the parishes because they are crucial for some family, somewhere,” said Medina.
“Because the Archdiocese is very extensive and many lay ministers cannot come downtown to our facilities for ongoing formation, we need to meet them where they are, literally, in their parishes. I’d love to have an extended team of top-performing trainers to form more parents and Family Life ministers in more parishes, with more programs, more frequently.”
The Rodriguezes said they have experienced firsthand many benefits of serving and being served by the Family Life Ministry for over two decades and are grateful to the DSF that makes this possible and encourage others to get involved.
“By facilitating programs, such as Fe y Finanzas Familiares, we have learned so much about the couples that participate and are encouraged by their humility in opening up their lives to achieve the true freedom that we all want and is only offered through Christ,” said Felipe Rodriguez. “Because of DSF support, we are able to get involved in this ministry and personally grow in God’s will for us, and also serve those that God puts in our paths at that moment. We believe strongly that this course changed our lives and our relationship with our Lord and encourage others that are willing to go through the process of seeing God acting in their lives to make this step.”
To learn more about the Family Life Ministry, visit archgh.org/familylife. For information about the DSF Annual Appeal and additional ministries supported by the fund, go to archgh.org/dsf. The DSF supports more than 60 ministries, whether direct service or education, which require this critical funding to remain in operation. Out of each gift given to DSF, 100% of every dollar goes directly to supporting these ministries.