The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference Marriage and Family Office is part of the Department of Formation of the Laity.
Bishop Zolile Mpambani heads the department and bishop Joao Rodrigues is the responsible bishop for the MFLO.
Fr Sakhi Mofokeng is the secretary for the Department and the MFLO where he operates with a working group.
PARISH FAMILY MINISTRY
A family is defined in the Church as an “intimate community of life and love, bonded together for life by blood, marriage or adoption,” (Familiaris Consortio). It is a small faith community, a little Church of the Home, as well as a more practical, secular community.
A parish could be described as a community of communities, a collection of families of many different kinds.
Ministry is serving, providing spiritual support, care and opportunities for growth in understanding.A family liturgical calendar is produced annually as a basis for ministry, family education and enrichment through supplementary resources.
Parish Family Ministry then is helping families, enriching their faith life and supporting them in becoming little Churches of the Home. It also includes providing support for specific family life situations and needs, parenting, hurting marriages, divorce and bereavement.
Formation courses are offered to metropolitan, diocesan or regional teams to become more aware, more knowledgeable and more skilled in this important work.
A MANUAL for PARISH FAMILY MINISTRY is available and contains articles, information sheets and liturgical suggestions for use in parishes. .
Areas for family ministry include: pre-married, married in different types of situation, widowhood, divorce and separation. Parenting relationships are an important component as is sexuality. Those who are single, those in hurting families, and those experiencing loss are in families. There are specific needs which will frequently require referral to specialists.
PARISH FAMILY MINISTRY is developed according to 6 themes.
1. Developing a Family Focus
2. The Reality of the Parish Families
3. Marriage Ministry
4. Caring for Families in different situations.
5. Sexuality and HIV/AIDS
6. Planning a Parish Family Ministry programme.
The three levels of delivery are:
1. Parish level with activities and events.
2. At Home level promoting family relationship enhancement and spirituality
3. Specific needs e.g. marriage preparation, counselling, substance abuse.
MARRIAGE MINISTRY AND FAMILY MINISTRY.
The Marriage and Family Life Office networks with dioceses and family movements and organisations who run various programmes in parts of the region.
Marriage ministry is one of the most important parts of family ministry but is not synonymous with it. By its nature a marriage relationship is unique, needs preparation, enrichment, support and help at times of difficulty.
Couples may not be aware that just as individuals grow through certain stages in life so does a marriage relationship. Knowing that a couple does not feel loving all the time but may be battling with the individual needs of the spouses and that this is natural and normal can help couples over rough patches. The saying LOVE IS A DECISION is very helpful to keep in mind.
MARFAM coordinator Toni Rowland is an active participant in the working group. Its family liturgical calendar is produced annually as an aid to ministry, family education and enrichment through supplementary resources. The themes of the family calendar can be used as a basis for ministering to families over the months.
Useful Websites for family ministry:
There are very many excellent resources and sites on the internet dealing with different aspects of family ministry. Some are church related others more secular. The list below is not comprehensive but can be used as a starting point to search for other information. Some of the contacts are in South Africa.
For contacts of local marriage and family programmes see FAMILY LIFE LINKS on: www.marfam.org.za
PAULINE’S Books and Media Centre has recently imported a range of books on marriage and family life from Kenya. See www.paulinesafrica.org
Many Catholic, religious or family-focused organisations can be googled, e.g. THEOLOGY OF THE BODY. RIGHT TO LIFE ISSUES Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute http://www.c-fam.org/ email@example.com.
Marriage: www.foryourmarriage.org US Catholic Bishops sponsored newsletter on marriage and family life.
www.smartmarriages.com carries numerous articles on marriage and family life.
CERC. Catholic Education: www.catholiceducation.org/updates/latest.htm a very helpful and regularly updated resource for educators and any adults in improving their knowledge.
Parent-teen support: www.tugoflife.com and LIFETALK are for parents, teens and teen educators.
CIE (Catholic Institute of Education) has many programmes dealing with school-parent-child issues. www.cie.org.za
Heartlines films and other resources on values are very helpful for groups and workshops.
South African Catholic Internet Resource Blog set up by Frank Nunan firstname.lastname@example.org.
Non-religious family support resources. Government Social Development departments, FAMSA, LifeLine, Child Welfare and many other NGO’s, social workers and psychologists offer counselling, marriage preparation, family education, divorce mediation and counselling, parenting, fatherhood and many more.
PARENTING PROGRAMMES AND RESOURCES
Basic Parenting Skills – 8 sessions. Archdiocese of Cape Town, Pastoral Development Office
Family Life Centre, Johannesburg – various, “Toddler Taming”
SAVF FAMNET | SAVF Fathers Network Erna Rheeder, Co-ordinator, email@example.com Botswadi – simple parenting skills for communities. From SAVF firstname.lastname@example.org, Ubaba Unathi – simple Fatherhood programme and more. .
SA Department of Social Development. Integrated Parenting Framework, Parenting Teenagers, Teenage Parents. email@example.com’