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AFLC Scavenger Hunt 2024: Family fun & bonding

Fun, exploring, bonding, surprises, and learning are all expected with the 2024 Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC) in collaboration with the Office of Youth Ministry scavenger hunt Saturday, July 7. The theme is Family: A School of Love. The event starts at the Catholic Centre Chaguanas from 9 a.m. with prizes to be won.

Tricia Syms, Episcopal Delegate AFLC, explains the theme, “In a school, there are certain things you go and do. You don’t just go and sit down…you have to do work, work is not just academic work, there are different kinds of work.” She went on, “For a lot of children, especially those under nine, school is their work, so  in the family, ‘school of love’, we have to do somethings at home”.

The AFLC is promoting four pillars to support the theme: prayer, forming the mind and heart, establishing family practices and building a family community.

For the first pillar,  families can dedicate each day to God, praying together before bedtime even if it’s just one decade of the rosary, practicing Lectio Divina and enthroning the Sacred Heart in their homes.

Syms emphasises, “Prayer is like a foundation in the family”.

Just as schools offer activities like reading, music, drama and dance to stimulate the mind, the second pillar encourage families to do the same at home. Families can read aloud from good books such as The Thousand Good Books by John Senior, which lists  books suitable from age two  upwards. The AFLC suggests families sing, play music, dance, and converse together. Technology use is restricted at home to encourage family interaction and stimulate imagination without artificial  distractions. Families are encouraged to instill character formation through loving discipline, fostering  virtues. Recommended reading includes Leonard Sax’s The Collapse of Parenting.

Syms said, “Limiting technology use is one thing, but we also have to spend time with each other; that’s how we form the mind and the heart…” She added, “it’s about helping parents with character formation, virtues. Virtues are good habits that you live with joy, with ease and love and with stability”.

The third pillar focuses on establishing family practices such as making Sundays a day of family leisure with additional prayer and family activities. Families are encouraged to explore the outdoors through regular walks, hikes, camping, and outdoor games, and to engage in household chores together such as gardening, cooking, and creating a home economy.

Syms explains, “on the [scavenger] hunt we will be doing things…going to different venues and learning things together; think about your own family when you did things together. As an adult you remember what you did, so whether it be making times for prayers or family activities, playing a game”.

The fourth pillar emphasises building family community. “The family is not an entity on to itself; it is about reaching out to others. So how are families going to be reaching out to others in the hunt? And that is going to be part of it. There are other families participating and gathering families together to pray, and to play and do things together. That’s how we are going to build the family community.”

Families will collaborate on missions. “All that we do, families are on pilgrimage on mission to something bigger,” Syms said. Some recommended activities are: practising family hospitality, inviting other families over to practice the other pillars, gathering families together at your parish for prayer, meals, and fun; adults teaching their children to engage in mission, sharing faith and serving others.

AFLC’s Scavenger Hunt book 

The AFLC’s scavenger hunt was featured in the book Thinking Globally and Responding Locally in the Church: Common Ground and Diversities in the Reception of Amoris Laetitia.

The chapter ‘Journeying Together in Joy: The AFLC, Amoris Laetitia, and Pastoral Care of Families in the Caribbean’ penned by Anna Kasafi Perkins and Tricia Syms, summarises AFLC’s efforts to activate the teachings of Amoris Laetitia during Amoris Laetitia Family Year 2021-2022.

The scavenger hunt activities focused on chapter 9 of Amoris Laetitia, the “spirituality of marriage and family” (245-256) and the goal was building “family togetherness, encourage bonding and spark creativity while having fun. Family fun, prayer, bonding, journeying together, evangelizing, being creative, and doing ‘little things with love’ were integral” (p 257). The participants’ experiences of the hunt were discussed in the chapter from the findings of a survey conducted.