Faith-filled families was the theme of a one-day retreat organised by the Confirmation catechists of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, San Fernando in June, and held at the St Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando auditorium.
The retreat was attended by 70 parents and facilitated by the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC). AFLC Episcopal Delegate Tricia Syms led the sessions which were based on Chapter 7 of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the family, Amoris Laetitia (AL) entitled ‘Towards a Better Education of Children’.
The interactive session addressed the challenges of parenting while exploring some of the ways parents can be change agents in their families. The parents were divided into small groups by gender, and shared that the impact of social media, technology, pornography, financial challenges, individualism, absentee fathers, single-family units, lack of extended family, and community support were some of the issues that make parenting difficult.
The parents later discussed AL Ch 7, para 260, “Parents need to consider what they want their children to be exposed to, and this necessarily means being concerned about who is providing entertainment, who is entering their rooms through television and electronic devices, and with whom they are spending their free time”. This led to the showing, during the lunchbreak, of a YouTube CNN documentary entitled ‘Being 13’, with a view to helping parents understand the impact of social media on their children and how they can assist.
They also examined AL Ch 7, para 288: “It is essential that children actually see that, for their parents, prayer is something truly important. Hence moments of family prayer and acts of devotion can be more powerful for evangelisation than any catechism class or sermon”. Some concrete ways of passing on the faith that parents committed to were: attending Mass together and arriving early; preparing for Mass by reading the Gospel days in advance; and creating a sacred space at home, for example, having an altar.
Testimonies from two parents
“The session that really stood out for me was when we broke out in the men’s groups to discuss some of the challenges we faced as individuals and with managing their families. It raised some interesting points, some contrasting views, but a lot of similarities of what challenges males and fathers face.”
“We didn’t really have a specific space or table that we could worship at home. It is something that I didn’t consider to be important, even though I heard about it in the past. I think it will be a good idea – having an altar in your home – particularly for the next two years as my son is going through Confirmation.”
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