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Roseau diocese celebrates family life


A highly successful and fruitful Family Life Symposium on Saturday, June 24 at the Goodwill Parish Hall brought the curtain down on the second hosting of Family Week in the Diocese of Roseau, coordinated by the diocesan Family Life Commission.

Last year, the diocese joined the universal Church in observance of the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome. This year’s Week ran June 18 to 24 at a family/parish and diocesan level. Activities included Father’s Day, Family Gratitude Day, Family Eucharistic Adoration, Family Games Night, and Family Service Day.

The Family Symposium was part of the Synodal process as families were afforded the opportunity to listen, participate, and share major concerns and needs for families in the Diocese.

The day’s activities began with praise and worship, and an opening prayer and welcome by Chairman and Spiritual Director of the Family Life Commission, Fr Herman Sharplis.

Fr Nigel Karam delivered brief remarks on behalf of the Apostolic Administrator, Archbishop Gabriel Malzaire of Castries, St Lucia. Fr Karam underscored the importance for the Church to listen and dialogue with families, discerning with the Holy Spirit to properly respond as a church to the needs and concerns of  families. He said that this is a key factor in building a more Synodal church.

The programme included a virtual presentation by Tricia Syms, Episcopal Delegate of the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (Port of Spain Archdiocese) and consultor of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) Laity and Family Commission.

Syms shared on her experience on how the Family Life Commission in Trinidad and Tobago works with the Family Life Units (FLU) within the parish in strengthening the relationship and collaboration between the FLC and FLU.

She stated that the AFLC operates on three pillars of building sacramental families:  Educate,  Encourage and  Engage family through prayer and relationship with Christ, spiritual and pastoral formation, accompaniment, and advocacy.

Martin Anthony, consultant with the Government of Dominica attached to the Social Welfare Department, presented on recent legislation passed in the parliament as it relates to the family.

He highlighted the status of the Children’s Act, Domestic violence Act, Maintenance of Children Act, Cohabitation Act, and the Child Justice Bill with special focus on the Adoption Act.

Anthony noted that under the current law mothers and fathers have equal rights over their children. He added that there is need to further explore these laws in the Diocese. Following Anthony’s presentation, he agreed he would work with the FLC to extend the relevant information to parishes through their FLUs.

Bishop Robert  Llanos of the Diocese of St John’s- Basseterre and Chair of the AEC’s Laity and Family Commission, gave a virtual presentation on the Church’s response to  families.

He began his presentation by giving a historical development of the Church’s focus on the family, which began with St Pope John Paul II to our present Pope Francis.

Bishop Llanos indicated the AEC is concentrating on the empowerment of the laity and family life programmes, the formation of the domestic Church and the teachings of the Church on family. He added that the AEC and FLC will give assistance and training to FLUs and social focus on the formation of clergy and seminarians on issues affecting families today.

Bishop Llanos said the definition of the family has been defined as all types (singles, single parents, married couples, common-law, widow/widower, divorced/separated and youths) of family within the context of the Caribbean family.

The morning session included a plenary discussion in which individuals representing the family types presented on how the Church was responding to current issues affecting the family. All presentations explored what was needed to be done than what was currently being done by the Church.

The day’s session ended with all parish delegates and clergy/religious going into focus groups to discuss how the Church can better respond to the current issues affecting family life.

The reports from the discussion highlighted countless ways: a special day for singles, the return of Choice and Catholic Youth Movement, programmes and activities to attract youths, Catechists formation, a comfort zone for divorced persons, a programme to accompany married couples, more accompaniment and outreach to bring common laws into sacramental marriage, and the need for care and attention of widows.


The objectives of the symposium were:

  • To inform the family units on new family legislation recently passed in the Dominica parliament and explore implications for family programmes of the Diocese, status of children (care and adoption), domestic violence, maintenance of children, and maintenance of spouses and parents.
  • To get deeper insight into issues affecting families in the Diocese

(from various family types)

  • To revisit the major family issues highlighted in the diocesan phase of the 2021/2024 synod and to provide the commissioned with guidelines to help develop programmes that will be more relevant to the needs of the different family groups throughout the various parishes.