FAMILY MATTERS 2011 – JUNE THEME: YOUTH: A TIME FOR PEACE-BUILDING
Fathers and Youth building Peace in the Human Family
SACBC Family Life Desk News
2011 Family Calendar and themes
May, a review of the focus on Family and Life
Evangelisation and the Family
Parish Family Ministry – workshop 1-3 July
Family Leadership Conference – 13 August
BITS AND BYTES
June themes, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Family Hour, Resources
FINALLY…… how fathers were created
Fathers and Youth building Peace in the Human Family
Right at the beginning of June we celebrate Ascension Thursday and then follows the time of prayer for Christian unity in South Africa from 2nd – 12 June. The agreed theme for this is “One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer” taken from Acts 2:42. The focus is on the Church in Jerusalem and the Christians there as they see themselves in a very precarious situation, caught as they are in the midst of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At an interfaith gathering held in Johannesburg as part of the May month for Family and Life, speakers from Muslim, Jewish and Catholic-Christian communities shared on family life and its importance in their various faith traditions. Most interesting is the Jewish experience, in practice the vision of the church of the home. Sadly the event was poorly supported, a message in itself which elicits my usual cry, “Why is there so little support for this foundation institution of church and society?” How well the May campaign was supported will emerge in due course while measuring its impact is much more difficult.
The reality noted in a recent South African research report on family life in a sense also reflect this lack of commitment to building healthy and stable families, but the report itself has drawn a lot of comment because of the serious situations highlighted. One-third of children in SA live with both their biological parents. 40% live with their mother and 3% with their father. There are nearly 4 million orphans – a large proportion due to HIV/AIDS deaths – and nearly 3 million of those are paternal orphans. Fathers are physically and emotionally absent in the lives of 50% of children, even though in an appreciable number he is alive. Research into the experience of youth, both male and female indicated that the absence of fathers has a serious negative impact on their educational, emotional and social well-being.
Facts and figures are disturbing, maybe so much so that people feel hopeless and helpless. But action must be taken and some programmes and initiatives are in place by government and many NGOs and religious groupings too. Fatherhood and youth programmes do gain attention during this month of June which is Youth month in SA and of course the more commercial celebration of Father’s Day. There is then a good chance to address those men – 54% of adult men according to the report findings who are fathers – and the families too. Fatherhood can be denied or rejected as when teenage boys and girls conceive a baby and the boy is not necessarily welcomed by the girl’s family. Fathers may abandon the mother at different stages, as the marriage rate is also very low, ranging from 21% for Africans to 58% for whites. A comment in the research also noted the unacceptably high degree of violence among men which can possibly be attributed in part to their own poor early home experience.
Dare we take on board the theme of unity and reconciliation in a place such as Jerusalem and as we pray for a just solution add the awareness that in some ways the sins of the fathers are visited on their children. Both fathers and children need to reach out in a spirit of reconciliation in their own personal lives and so bring about peace in a larger context. June’s family theme is “Youth, a time for peace-building.” Most often we see youth as the opposite and current events in the Arab world could indicate that too. But are the youth, who to some extent are apparently driving the revolution, not striving for a better life and an end to injustice?
The local research report noted that in spite of many handicaps and obstacles, one of the main ones being the very high youth unemployment rate of around 50%, youth may feel frustrated but still believe they can cope with their own future. May youth and their fathers everywhere have the courage and wisdom to build relationships and strive for reconciliation without which there is no long term successful future for anyone in their own and the human family.
Visit our new blog website www.marfam.org.za/blog.
MARFAM provides a range of publications, especially backup material for family education and enrichment on the family calendar themes throughout the year in the MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIVING magazine.
The interfaith event at St Augustine College on 25th May, with speakers from Muslim, Jewish and Catholic traditions on family life, was co-hosted with the university, with MARFAM and the Turquoise Harmony Institute. From a Catholic perspective it formed part of the May focus on Family and Life. A CD of the event is available from Radio Veritas and the paper I presented from me.
CURRENT MARFAM RESOURCES:
Much energy went into the May focus with a number of parish visits, priest talks, workshops, broadcasts and resource materials supplied by the SACBC Family Life Desk and MARFAM in the quarterly magazine and various other publications.
The article of the month by Fr Thembelani Ngcobo takes up the June theme of Youth and Peacebuilding. The MARFAM booklet That they may be one is also appropriate as reflections for the week of prayer for Christian unity.
The Poem of the month: is A Tribute to Dads.
There are also Pentecost activities on the prayers and blessings page on our old site at www.marfam.org.za .
For a full publications list click here www.marfam.org.za/blog
2011 Family Calendars used quite extensively in parish family ministry during the year are still available at reduced prices. For prices and orders click here
For English monthly calendar theme reflections see website www.marfam.org.za
For Afrikaans, Tswana, Sesotho, North Sotho and Zulu request by email.
SACBC FAMILY LIFE DESK NEWS
The SACBC Family Life Desk theme for the year PEACE ON EARTH BEGINS AT HOME applies the focus of the 2nd African Synod of 2009, “Church as Family in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace.” Read more
The 2011 family calendar with themes and companion resources is being used in homes and parishes as a family education and enrichment tool. Some parishes base their year plan around the monthly themes, not just for families but for the parish as a whole. Download the explanatory leaflet and monthly reflections for the Sunday readings from www.marfam.org.za/blog. Request translations by email.
JUNE THEME: YOUTH, A TIME FOR PEACE-BUILDING
The years of adolescence and young adulthood are particularly challenging for youth and their parents because of the nature of the development of the youth at physical, emotional, psychological, moral and spiritual levels. As they develop their own sense of self they can build peace or create conflict at home and in their social context. Pray and work for an increase in skills to manage these challenges so that peace may genuinely rule in our homes.
Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have. Doris Mortman
MAY FOCUS ON FAMILY AND LIFE REPORT
The decision to focus on Family and Life during May was taken by the SA Catholic Bishops and through the Family Life Desk they were supplied with some resource material but each was invited to promote the campaign in their own dioceses as appropriate.
Some events have been mentioned above and certainly the Family Fun Day on 2nd May in Johannesburg was considered a great day by those who participated, especially with those young people who chose to brave the already cold water in the swimmingpool. It was a little disappointing that quite a lot of children came along in the parish groups without parents as the purpose of the event had been to spend time together as families. Next time that will be looked into.
Through these events and sharing with young couples, older people and those working with families I continue to learn more about the cultural differences, about family structures and traditions that are important but too easily glossed over in religious contexts.
Some parishes used the family prayer, held parenting talks, gatherings for couples and sodality groups and took on the UN INTERNATIONAL FAMILY DAY on 15th May.
We welcome your reports on your and your parish activities, what worked and what didn’t work so well. You can communicate through our blog or facebookpage.
EVANGELISATION AND THE FAMILY
I was fortunate to have been invited to team up with the Department for Evangelisation in addressing priests’ meetings in different dioceses. An evangelisation focus rather than specific programmes for aspects of family life is used in these talks. As Aylward Shorter writes in Theology of the Church as Family “If the Church is to be truly a family of God than both the Church and the family which provides its model must reflect God’s priorities.” Church as Family is a comprehensive vision for parish life – looking with family eyes at all aspects of the parish. It also incorporates the particular spirituality of marriage and family life, e.g. couple unity as their way of holiness, family homeliness is holiness versus going out to evangelise. From such an underlying vision programmes for family education, enrichment and needs are offered.
PARISH FAMILY MINISTRY is an ongoing project of the Family Life Desk.
NEXT PARISH FAMILY WORKSHOP 1-3 JULY 2011 AT KOINONIA, JOHANNESBURG
This workshop is being planned as an introduction to PFM as well as a Training the Trainer opportunity for those more experienced who can take the workshop into their own diocese and parish. For information on costs and to book contact email@example.com
During the workshop participants complete and analyse a profile of their own parish to identify particular needs that can be explored and supported. General family enrichment at parish level and family enrichment at home are the mainstay of the programme with every family ideally developing or deepening its own spirituality. The PFM manual provides many resource sheets and much background information. See all www.marfam.org.za/blog for other resources for various seasons and activities for families.
FAMILY MINISTRY LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE, 13 AUGUST, BOSCO CENTRE, WALKERVILLE south of Johannesburg. This conference is at last coming together and will be facilitated by CBC Bro Michael Burke. On behalf of Archbishop William Slattery of Pretoria, Chairman of the Evangelisation Department and so of the Family Life Desk, invitations are being sent primarily to national/regional and local leaders of recognised family movements as well as diocesan family coordinators. The intention is to reflect on the needs of families, what is already being offered, what gaps exist and how can these be addressed, bearing in mind our limited resources of personnel and finances.
The research report referred to above on family life in South Africa and a discussion at the July plenary meeting of the Southern African Bishops will feed into this conference too.
Through contact made at workshops and presentations our email list continues to grow slowly but surely. I haven’t quite got the hang of Facebook yet but that is certainly the place to get quick answers. We have a MARFAM page www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/home.php?sk=group_121787197881606&ap=1
We are also connected to Hope and Joy, the initiative in SA to build a network of Catholics while indirectly focusing on the 50th anniversary of the start of Vatican II in 2012. www.hopeandjoy.org.za
Christian film festival Transforming Stories 2011 www.transformingstories.org/2011/
Submit “stories in the form of film to the world and the Body of Christ. We want to emphasize how the power of storytelling can impact the lives of people and shape a specific culture. This will be one of the largest marketing opportunities any film could receive.”
BITS AND BYTES
MORE JUNE THEMES
There are a host of themes and days to commemorative during this month: Pentecost, Youth Day, Fathers’ Day, St Anthony, Sacred Heart, and World Refugee Day. Bidding prayers and activities as appropriate can be done in the parish and at home. A special emphasis can be put on refugees, migrant workers and immigrants who are often away from home and their families making their personal lives much more difficult. See below for some Family Hour ideas.
WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY, 2 -12 JUNE
The SA Church Unity Commission have produced the prayer in many different languages and also produced an Ecumenical Service of Worship leaflet. Differences in religion are a challenge to unity in many families.
“This year’s theme offered for our meditation by the Churches in Jerusalem invites Christians everywhere to pause and reflect on their relation to the mother Church in Jerusalem so as to look afresh at our own situations. The earthly community of Jerusalem pre-figures the heavenly Jerusalem where all peoples will be gathered around the throne of the Lamb. “
FAMILY HOUR SUGGESTIONS. Main theme JUNE: Youth, a time for peace-building
Articles and reflections in the MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIVING magazine can be used.
Reflections on Fatherhood and Pentecost that can be done at home or in groups can be downloaded from www.marfam.org.za/blog
Read up and share about patron saints, St Charles Lwanga an African, St Anthony, St Peter and Paul are saints of the month. www.catholiconline.org
FORMAT FOR FAMILY HOUR. Such a time need not be highly structured but a basic format is helpful and gives a degree of security too.
Opening Prayer, Input of some kind on the chosen topic, E.G. any kind of article even a movie or TV programme on a topical issue, reflection, sharing, discussion, action, prayer. The time can end with a meal or snack. Family hour can be used for problem solving in families but is also important to build family communication skills, for the times when problems do arise.
Contact Information on church related family movements operating in the region is listed on www.marfam.org.za/blog.
Radio Veritas. FAMILY MATTERS is also the name of the programme I host and broadcast weekly on Wednesdays 10-11 and Saturday 11-12. The SACBC monthly family themes are used with interviews, articles and prayer times.
The SA National Department of Social Development (DSD)Family directorate offers welfare services to families all over the country and also has a number of manuals and courses on marriage preparation and enrichment, family preservation, parenting and more. The official SA International Family Day celebration will be hosted by the DSD in the Eastern Cape on 3rd June. Contact local DSD offices.
FAMSA in many South African centres and Family Life Centre in Johannesburg offers many services and counselling to families in their various relationships and needs. Programmes include marriage preparation, enrichment, parenting, bereavement and divorce counselling and mediation. Visit www.familylife.co.za
FATHERHOOD INITIATIVES. Google provides some good links.
Baba: Men and Fatherhood in South Africa edited by Linda Richter and Rober Morrell, HSRC
provides answers to some of the most difficult questions about fatherhood in South Africa: Who is a father? What does it mean to be a father? Is it important for fathers to do more for children in a world that assumes that mothers take the primary parenting role? Do different people understand fatherhood in different ways? What evidence is there of new fatherhood styles emerging in South Africa?
HSRC has also published a report on THE FATHERHOOD PROJECT. Other initiatives are The African Fathers Initiative and the Fatherhood Foundation. The role of stepfathers is also explored.
Other websites for family enrichment some of which produce regular publications:
US Catholic Bishops Conference firstname.lastname@example.org
www.firstthings.org has links to many good articles on marriage and all aspects of family life, e.g. maximise your marriage, stepparenting, “from bump to bundle.”
www.smartmarriages.com also has a very extensive range of articles and links on training programmes and courses.
WORLD CONGRESS OF FAMILIES. www.worldcongress.org to subscribe to their newsletter email email@example.com
SERFAC 13th International Conference. Title: In Defense of the Family: Family, Children and Culture. Venue: Bangkok, Thailand, Date: June 16 – 20, 2011 Website: www.defendfamily.org
Child Trace, a Pretoria organisation is organising a Walkathon on 4th June on the occasion of Child Protection week. “Walk for child safety,” creating awareness for lost and trafficked children. www.childtrace.org
Many people have probably seen How Mothers were Created but I wonder how many have seen this one. Enjoy!
How Fathers Were Created from www.basicjokes.com/djoke.php?id=2423
When the good Lord was creating fathers, He started with a tall frame.
A female angel nearby said, “What kind of father is that? If you’re going to make children so close to the ground, why have you put fathers up so high? He won’t be able to shoot marbles without kneeling, tuck a child in bed without bending or even kiss a child without a lot of stooping.
And God smiled and said, “Yes, but if I make him childsize, who would children have to look up to?”
And when God made a father’s hands, they were large and sinewy.
The angel shook her head sadly and said, “Large hands are clumsy. They can’t manage diaper pins, small buttons, rubber bands on ponytails or even remove splinters caused by baseball bats.”
And God smiled and said, “I know, but they’re large enough to hold everything a small boy empties from his pockets at the end of a day, yet small enough to cup a child’s face.”
And then God molded long, slim legs and broad shoulders.
The angel nearly had a heart attack. “Boy, this is the end of the week, all right,” she clucked. “Do you realize you just made a father without a lap? How is he going to pull a child close to him without the kid falling between his legs?”
And God smiled and said, “A mother needs a lap. A father needs strong shoulders to pull a sled, balance a boy on a bicycle or hold a sleepy head on the way home from the circus.”
God was in the middle of creating two of the largest feet anyone had ever seen when the angel could contain herself no longer. “That’s not fair. Do you honestly think those large boats are going to dig out of bed early in the morning when the baby cries? Or walk through a small birthday party without crushing at least three of the guests?”
And God smiled and said, “They’ll work. You’ll see. They’ll support a small child who wants to ride a horse to Banbury Cross or scare off mice at the summer cabin or display shoes that will be a challenge to fill.”
God worked throughout the night, giving the father few words but a firm, authoritive voice and eyes that saw everything but remained calm and tolerant. Finally, almost as an afterthought, He added tears. Then He turned to the angel and said, “Now, are you satisfied that he can love as much as a mother?”
The angel shutteth up.
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