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Familia Participates in National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM) Conference
Program joined forces with umbrella organization in defense of the family.

familia conference
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.

The 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.

Strength in Unity

Familia members and organizers have been attending NACFLM conferences for
coffee break
Taking a short coffee break during the conference.
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.

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 job.”

“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.

Bringing the Papal Documents to Life

The Familia conference began with leadership training given by the Familia USA staff. Three guest speakers also
archbishop kurtz speaking
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.

Art 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
• To get more information about the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers(NACFLM) and its annual conference, visit the web site at
• To read up on the USCCB’s National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage, click here.



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