On Saturday 16th June there was a meeting of 18 married couples from the Diocese of Salford interested in taking part in the second Holy Family Project, a training programme for married couples who want to work with other couples and families in the development of their family life and the growth of family spirituality. Many year ago Bl. Pope John Paul II said “Christians also have the mission of proclaiming with joy and conviction the Good News about family…” Bishop Terence Brain, who had supported the first Holy Family Project, invited the Schoenstatt Movement to start the next course. The course is a two year course in the practical development of the pastoral care of families. In the first year we look at “How to live Family” and in the second year, in developing the practical application of what we have shared, we consider “How to Teach Family”.
In a short statement two couples from the leadership team, Gerry and Liz Markland and Patty and Damian Ganley, gave an impression from the first course and what it meant for them. For them the course was a personal enrichment and a great help in their married and family life and the challenges which family life brings. It also became the chance through sharing and covering a whole range of topics central to the cycle of life in marriage and the family to learn practical ways of developing the spirituality of family. Gerry reminded us of the words of Pope Paul VI in his letter on evangelisation that in today’s world people for the main part only understand the book of life – personal witness given in faith. When married couples tell their stories of how they strive to live the Catholic vision of marriage they themselves become the message.
Father Duncan made a comparison of how we live our Christian vision of life and marriage. For some they put up with a starvation diet because they do not know the fullness and richness of the vision of life of the Church. Some look to take part in the banquet of life with the abundance of God’s goodness shown in the events of the marriage feast of Cana. Others settle for junk food. There are many messages and visions out in the public forum, many of which fall short of the great image of marriage and family life taught by Our Lord and entrusted to the Church with the commissioning to bring this message to the modern world in a way that can be understood. Also we need to show concrete small steps we can take so that married love develops to love for a lifetime and family life becomes the ‘sacred space’ especially for the children, into which God in his goodness can pour every spiritual blessing.
The couples involved in the Holy Family Project start on a journey in which their hope is that their own marriage and family life will be strengthened and enriched and they will become capable of taking this message to our families in our parishes and localities. Pope Paul said that those who are evangelized become evangelizers. We remember in his message to the young people in Madrid at the World Youth Day Pope Benedict XVI said that the longing we have has a face and a name – Jesus. And it is impossible to know Jesus and not tell others about him. We look forward to looking on the greatness and goodness of marriage and family life. We hope to find ways to share this Good News with many.