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Strengthening family life during the pandemic                

By Ottrisha Carter

During the pandemic, the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC) has made use of technology to continue providing services and opportunities for families.

Tricia Syms, Episcopal Delegate for the AFLC, described the shift from in-person activities to virtual activities as challenging but rewarding.

According to Syms, “Using the social media and media, has attracted a wider section of families.” Through breakout rooms, polls, questions, and short presentations, they are challenged to become more creative.

She acknowledges that there seems to be a lack of connection at times, especially when people turn their cameras off. Not being able to see facial reactions and other non-verbal behaviours prevent presenters from being able to connect with participants virtually.

She believes that “seeing people on the virtual platform when their cameras are turned on, helps to create a better connection.”

Syms described the work of the AFLC as: “a beautiful Ministry which involves journeying with families, no matter their situation and being encountered by families who also bear witness to them.”

The AFLC caters for all types of families — those with special needs, separated, widowed, divorced, single-parent homes, married couples, those preparing for marriage and those struggling.

All families need some form of assistance to help them on their journeys with the Lord and each other. The AFLC believes that it is important to journey with families, to strengthen family life.

Syms explained, “We provide families with the practical tools that they need to be who God has called them to be.” Some of these tools include teaching families to pray, play, and work together. Families are also exposed to coping techniques, listening skills, counselling, and Marriage Enrichment programmes.

In 2021, the AFLC hosted a number of interesting activities virtually. One of these activities was the celebration of Marriage and Family Life Week (July 19–26). Syms described the experience as “a very beautiful journey highlighting the Sacrament of Marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman, for the uniting [of] spouses and procreation and education of children.” Other archdiocesan commissions were involved and played an active role in the week’s activities. Emphasis was placed on various aspects of family life such as: grandparents, parenting, the dignity of the human person, and the impact that the media has on family life.

The AFLC also journeyed with families towards the celebration of Pentecost. Families were encouraged to pray, play, and garden together. Syms mentioned that this journey involved “the little ways of living and loving, saying sorry, please and thank you, highlighting the message of Amoris Laetitia.”

During this ‘Year of the Amoris Laetitia Family’ (March 19, 2021–June 26, 2022), families are welcomed to participate virtually in the AFLC’s accompaniment sessions which take place on Mondays from 6 – 6.30 p.m. The AFLC will dedicate the month of February to love. Activities will be centred on Chapter 4 of Amoris Laetitia which talks about love.

On March 19, a scavenger hunt will be hosted under the theme of St Joseph. The day’s activities will begin at the AFLC in Chaguanas and end at the St Joseph RC Church, St Joseph.

Syms’ message of hope to families who are struggling during the pandemic: “In Amoris Laetitia, it talks about families being first and foremost an opportunity. … We are called to be the nearest hospitals, caring for and guiding each other, encouraging, and challenging one another, bandaging, and healing wounds. God is always with us, and our mess can be transformed into a beautiful message of hope for others.”

 

Persons are invited to check out the AFLC on Instagram, Facebook and AFLC’s  website, aflcrc.org. Email familylife@catholictt.org or call/WhatsApp 299-1047.





 

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