|Familia participants during their two-day training session prior to the larger NACFLM conference.|
July 26, 2010. Cincinnati, OH. This past June 22-26, 2010,
Familia held its annual conference in the wider context
of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers
(NACFLM) Conference, which brings Catholic family life ministers together for
a top lineup of speakers, practical resources, and networking opportunities.
conference is geared specifically toward people who feel called to
the mission of strengthen marriages. It attracts a wide range
of participants, including priests, deacons, diocesan and parish family life
ministers, and couples, all of whom work with people at
every stage of the marriage experience: some focus on helping
people in the single-and-searching stage; others reach out to engaged
or married couples; others focus on pro-life and natural family
planning; and still others help families in crisis, separated and
divorced couples, the widowed, culturally diverse families, and special needs
families, among others.
Now that the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has tasked NACFLM with implementing and supporting
its National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage (NPIM), the conference
is also a way for all of these ministries to
coordinate their efforts, each contributing what it does best.
Familia members and organizers have been attending NACFLM conferences for
years, but this was the first time that the Familia
conference was actually organized in the context of the NACFLM
conference as a “pre-conference” held on site just before the
larger event began, from June 22-23.
|Taking a short coffee break during the conference.|
Familia participants had their own
speakers and workshops for two days, and then stayed for
the NACFLM conference (June 23-26) as regular participants, getting to
know other family ministries while also attending talks, manning their
booth, and going to workshops and breakout sessions.
For Todd and
Karen Sester, the national directors of Familia, the benefits of
joining forces with a larger team were clear.
“It really puts
us in the heart of the Church. We’re right there
together on the same page, on the same team, working
toward the same objectives,” said Karen Sester. “And of course,
just being around other people who are committed and invested
in supporting marriage is so helpful.”
She also noted that
the overall experience of the conference was “an affirmation that
we need to learn more what the parish and diocesan
family life ministers need so that we can help them
more. That’s why we’re here: to help them with their
“We want to be closer to them; we want to
be an integral part of the picture and network and
collaborate more with all of the other programs, not as
a competition, but in a collaborative spirit,” she said.
Papal Documents to Life
The Familia conference began with leadership training
given by the Familia USA staff. Three guest speakers also
|Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D., of the archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky, spoke on Christifidelis Laici .|
enriched the Familia track, delving into three Church documents on
which five Familia programs are based.
Guest speaker Archbishop Joseph E.
Kurtz, D.D., of the archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky, spoke on
Christifidelis Laici (The Lay Members of Christ’s Faithful People), a
post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the vocation and mission of the
laity in the Church.
In his talk, which can be
heard at this link, Archbishop Kurtz challenged the
laity to think big when it comes to their mission,
and not to limit themselves to the usual service roles
of Eucharistic minister, lector, or usher. He urged them to
get integrally involved in formation and evangelization, learning the Church’s
teachings so as to communicate them effectively to their peers.
Bennett, coauthor of The Temperament God Gave You, gave two
talks, one on John Paul II’s social doctrine encyclical Laborem
Exercens (On Human Work), and the other on Temperaments and
Leadership. In his talk on Laborem Exercens, he spoke especially
to men, explaining why God created work and how to
keep the right balance between work and life in light
of John Paul II’s perspective that “man was not made
for work, but work was made for man,” that “work
is a gift,” and that human dignity must always come
first in the workplace.
His talk on the temperaments was on
how understanding a person’s temperament can help you motivate and
guide them to be the best they can be, both
in the family and in the workplace.
Finally, consecrated woman
Margaret Mullan spoke on John Paul II’s apostolic letter Mulieris
Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women). She explained
the historical evolution of feminism, especially in the modern era,
which has seen widespread confusion about the notion of women’s
empowerment. Often, she noted, there is an assumption that women
have to be the same as men to be equal
to them—while in fact, women were created equal but different.
The antidote, she said, is for women to know who
they are and to listen to their nature and to
God, paying attention to the unique gifts that are a
woman’s true strength.
• To learn more about how Familia works to
strengthen marriages and families and build missionary awareness among lay
Catholics, visit the web site at www.familiausa.net.
get more information about the National Association of Catholic Family
Life Ministers(NACFLM) and its annual conference, visit the web site
• To read up on the USCCB’s
National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage, click here.