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Special section: Family Life

Bishop’s materials useful to families

NCR Staff

The bishops’ conference deals in documents. No bad thing where family life ministry at the parish level is concerned.

The bishops letter on family violence, When I Call for Help, sold 200,000 copies in parishes nationwide. The bishops made headlines with Follow the Way of Love, said Rick McCord, director of the bishops’ Secretariat on Family, Laity, Women and Youth.

The 1993 pastoral message, marking the 1994 United Nations International Year of the Family, caught the nations fancy. It was written in colloquial language, said McCord, and made headlines: Bishops say, Men, make sure you do housework, too.’

The bishops followed their original 1979 Pastoral Plan for Family Ministry with A Family Perspective in Church and Society in 1988.

‘Perspective, ” explained McCord, “said programs are fine but have limited value and cant be multiplied forever. Rather, try to infuse everything the parish does with a families perspective: What are the family components of this ministry? How might we make the liturgy, social ministry, education, outreach more family-friendly and accessible?

In 1990, the bishops Domestic Social Policy Office issued Putting Children and Families First, urging that the society do what the parish also ought to do: Address the needs of children by grappling with the fact that children come in families, and families need help.

“It suggested lets put everything in the context of children in families, said McCord, and then see how government policy is affecting them.

During an interview at his bishops conference office, McCord also checked off Catholic-source programs and other programs making headway on family issues:

  • Retrouvaille (Rediscovery), a “divorce is not the only option program for troubled marriages, created by the Marriage Encounter community in French-speaking Canada. It’s been on Oprah’ and in Womans Day magazine, McCord said.
  • Rainbows for All God’s Children, a schools program not just Catholic schools -- to help youngsters whose parents are separated or divorced
  • The Center for Marriage and Family at Creighton University, run by Notre Dame Sr. Barbara Markey.

Currently, said McCord, his committee is asking itself what it should be doing about the grandparents generation. Not what to do for them, he said, but recognizing their gifts and utilizing what they have to offer.

National Catholic Reporter, September 4, 1998