Our Family Groups
Our Family Groups
The heart of parish life is community, a sense of family.
Their aims are to help people feel they belong, welcome people who have felt alienated, provide support for people in time of need, enable people to feel accepted, provide a “learning” environment for children, help build a community atmosphere, encourage various forms of leadership, assist people to live their faith.
Where did Passionist Family Groups come from?
The first Family Group formed in Terrey Hills Parish, Sydney, in 1972. Under the leadership of Passionist Fr Peter McGrath, this very small Parish gradually grew, and with it so did the Family Groups, which reached 26 groups (approximately 1250 people). The spread of the Passionist Family Group Movement around Australia under the direction of the Passionist Congregation began in 1985. The Movement has spread to over 400 parishes in 20 Australian dioceses (including parishes in 3 Anglican dioceses). The Passionist Family Groups began in New Zealand in June 1988 and they are in more than 80 parishes in all 6 dioceses (including Anglican, Baptist, Co-operating and Presbyterian Parishes). The Passionist Family Group Movement has also spread to U.S.A., U.K., Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Is it Social or Religious?
Jesus would have found this a strange distinction, but some people ask the question. When we learn to accept others who are different from us, and when we offer welcome, love and care and enjoy doing it, then God is right there in the middle of it. Many people believe that faith is ‘caught’ rather than ‘taught’ and there is a lot of ‘faith-catching’ in Family Groups.
What is their Appeal?
The major attraction is simplicity and lack of organisational structure. Single people, especially divorced and widowed people, find it non-threatening. Partners or non-church goers feel welcome. People feel they are actually living their faith, so church-going comes to mean something entirely different, and it is an involvement for a couple or a family to share together.
Can anyone join?
The simple answer is YES. Anyone and Everyone! The Family Group motto is “A Family For All”
What is a Passionist Family Group?
Each group has somewhere between 8 – 12 families. In forming the groups we try to match children of a similar age and a cross section of adults and children so that it resembles an extended family. Geographical areas are not considered as criteria for placing people in a group. Each group is encouraged to develop its own flavour while remaining a part of the Parish extension of the Family Group Movement.
What do Groups do?
The emphasis is on building relationships, so the groups are about “being”, rather than “doing”. Each group is encouraged to get together once a month, sometimes with the children and at other times only with the adults. These gatherings allow people to get to know one another, and then in natural ways, group members begin to create bonds with others. With the building of bonds comes the opportunity to form friendships, have fun, extend acceptance and support, and quite simply and joyfully, experience Christian life with others. The emphasis is on low-cost enjoyment and allowing everyone to feel a part of the “family”.
How can Passionist Family Groups help St Brigid’s Parish?
The networking of families has a positive effect on liturgy because more people know each other and more of them are keen to become involved in the life of the parish community. Many pastoral needs such as people visiting one another, or helping each other in practical ways during special times of need, build community life and help people understand what belonging to a church really means. Family Groups do a great deal to support and encourage the life of the family as well as provide an important sense of family belonging for the many who have lost it through death or marriage breakdown.
“I look forward to our Family Group get-togethers. The positive feelings and good humour from all members of our group certainly guarantee a good time. Different individuals from all groups give each other tremendous support through good times and bad. It is through all this that I, my family and most others within the group have made extra sincere friendships as well as feeling part of a family.”
Is it a Lay Movement?
Family Groups offer an opportunity for priests, religious and laity to work together. There are significant opportunities for lay leadership, with an emphasis on strengthening marriage and family life.
“I am privileged to be accepted as the grandmother of our Family Group. The togetherness and caring I feel coming from the younger people gives me an extra leg to my family. My 75th birthday was celebrated with a surprise dinner and was the highlight of my year.”
Parish FG Leadership Group: Adrienne and Jonathon Harverson
For More Information Contact Parish Office 8577 5670