-Mrs. Lorraine Fernandes
The special Sub-Committee of the PPC of the Se Cathedral Parish formed to draw up a plan to make this Pastoral Year dedicated to the family a meaningful one, has drawn up a programme to celebrate the Pastoral Year (2015-2016). The aim of this programme is to implement in the right spirit, the theme, ‘Family Become What You Are’ and to help our families to become vibrant Christian families like the Family of Nazareth. If the suggestions are lived well, it will help our families to grow in faith and holiness, in love and respect for each member of the family.
The programme is to executed at 2 levels:
- Family Activities at the Parish Level
- Family Activities at the family Level
Parish Level Programmes
- Prayer for Families:
Every month, starting from October 2015, the Parish Bulletin “KATEDRALACHO ULO” will carry the names of families ward wise. All parish members will pray for a week for these families during the family Rosary or at any other family prayer at home. Each week 10 families will be proposed to be prayed for. Their names will appear in the “KATEDRALACHO ULO”. On the Sundays that follow animators must remind these families to be present for the 7.30 am Sunday Eucharistic celebration in the church to thank God. This shall continue for the whole year, till 280 families of the Parish have been offered in prayer to the Lord.
Aim: To remind us that we are one Parish family and are concerned of the other even though we belong to different wards. The families must experience a sense of inclusiveness and belongingness to their parish Community as children of God. Devotion to the Holy Rosary helps families to endure and overcome testing times in family lives
- Family mission in each ward:
A Family Mission for Somuday families to be conducted by Parish Priests for one evening on a topic that is relevant to the families e.g the challenges of Parenting in today’s world, Conflicting values systems in society, Anger management for better family ties, Alcoholism and its effects on family life.
Aim: To help families get the right guidance in dealing with such issues at home. They can learn more practical and reliable ways of dealing with difficult problems in their lives from sources.
- A Session for Married Couples:
This session is open to all married couples. Once a month for one hour in the evening, a session will be held in church to help spouses grow in their marriage commitment. Spouses can share their views and experiences with other participants. It will be an ‘open door’ opportunity, those who wish can come. The talk would be on problem areas in married life. A short activity would follow. There would be a follow up at the next session.
Aim: To help married couples in their ongoing formation to live and grow in love and appreciation towards each other and their families.
- Family FETE:
Each ward puts a stall (food, games, music, art). Each Somuday takes charge of one stall. Confirmation children could display posters, paintings depicting their understanding of a family. The collection from the FETE can be used to meet any medical emergencies by needy families.
Aim: To help parents and children spend time with each other as a parish family. The whole Parish family bonds together. Families can take part together in fun activities. A time to experience the lighter moments of life.
- Promoting Good Literature:
We must have good reading material at home that will enrich our family ties. To make things simple and books available members of the Family Cell and Evangelical Cell will organize sale of books for two Sundays in a month after the 7.30 am Mass. Families must subscribe to the Daily flash, Jivitacho Prokas or any other booklet that gives daily reflections based on the Gospel of the day. To begin the day reading a small scripture verse will sustain you all through the day. Reading the scriptures, the book of Sirach, Proverbs, Wisdom will help parents and children understand what God and the Church want from us.
Aim: Good reading material will widen our horizons, deepen our thoughts and enrich our relationships. This will help us have a positive attitude to life and family.
- Families to visit the Blessed Sacrament:
The whole family as one unit must come and spend time with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Reflect on His Presence in our life and home. Take time to thank God our Father, from whom every family on earth and heaven takes its name (Eph 3:14). The family also prays for their particular need as well.
Aim: Jesus is the center of our life. He always gave thanks to God his Father. We too must build in ourselves an attitude of gratitude. The more we thank, the less we complain. The silence in the Blessed Sacrament has a calming effect on us “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46.10).
- Family Contribution to the Parish:
The Church meets our spiritual needs. From birth till death we receive all our sacraments from the church. We must also give back to the church. Parents must send their children for Catechism Class, Sunday mass, encourage their children to become Altar Servers, join the choir, youth groups in church, and promote vocations for Priesthood and Religious Life. Parents and children should attend novenas masses and daily masses during vacations. Families must encourage their members to participate in the maintenance of the chapel entrusted to their Somuday. Taking part in cleaning, decorating their chapels during feasts, novenas etc.
Aim: Neither the Parish nor the Families can survive in isolation. Their relationship is reciprocal. As mentioned in the Pastoral Letter 2015-2016. ‘The church is a temple of Christian life and the family is a domestic church, where the mission of the church is carried out.’
- Love for the Needy:
Develop a spirit of sacrifice by saying “no” to little comforts in your life e.g when you want to have a soft drink you have instead a glass of water and save that amount to be used for the needy. Save also from your income through sacrifice and self-denial and donate the money for a good cause in the parish or elsewhere. As Christian families, Acts of charity are an important part of our life.
Aim: Christ said “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers you do unto me”. Acts of Charity in thought, word and deed will make us better human beings and keep us united with the less fortunate.
Activities at the Family Level
- Family Prayer:
A family that prays together stays together. Praying the Holy Rosary together unites the family. The Holy Rosary is a powerful weapon to protect the sanctity of the family from all negative forces. One intention is to be prayed for every month in the family Rosary to strengthen and preserve the institution of the family. The intention will be printed in the “KATEDRALACHO ULO”.
Aim: If 280 families in the parish pray for the same intention, we will experience the power of the Holy Rosary in protecting and saving families. When we pray for others we open ourselves to receiving God’s grace.
- Vocation Week:
In the month of September Vocation Week is celebrated. Parents must take time to explain to children the work that the saints, missionaries, priests and religious have done and are doing to keep our faith alive. Parents should help children to develop in them, the virtues of the saints
Aim: We have inherited our faith from those who came from foreign lands, now we have to produce our own saints, missionaries and priests if we are to keep the church alive.
- Family Outing:
In the month of October and May, parents and children should go for outings to the beach, parks, gardens. Simple outings help families bond together. Such outings have a relaxing effect. Jesus too spent time with his disciples. They took breaks when they were tired.
Aim: As a family we must spend time together in the open environment laughing, singing, playing and marveling at God’s gift of nature. In the time to come we might not get to enjoy the luxury of these open spaces.
- Thanksgiving Day:
To be held in the family on any of the Sundays in the month of May to conclude the Year of the Family. On that Sunday, the whole family attends mass together. At home all the family members help in preparing meals. In the evening pray the Rosary or Read the Word or reflect on a spiritual passage relevant to the family theme. Share at a personal level the good you experience in each of the member of your family; your feelings about your family, why you love each other? How your family has shaped your life? Thank God for your family and celebrate it with encouraging words in the family.
Aim: We have to learn to appreciate the goodness of each of the members of our family and the values our family has inculcated in us. When we realize how important our family is to us and we to them, then only will we realize how important the institution of the family is.
- Caring for the Elders (Grandparents, elderly aunts, uncles, aging parents):
We can learn from our elders more about our family traditions like family prayers, devotions, charitable donations, pilgrimages, veneration of saints. Our elders have a wealth of information to give to us. Their experiences will help us to have a better understanding of family relations. Discuss with them, listen to them, give them love and care and show them that they are very much an important part of our family.
Aim: To encourage our children, the younger generation to spend time with the elders and aging members of the family, making them sensitive to the sick and the weak. If we care for our elders when young we too will receive the care from our children. Positive strokes are necessary for all family members irrespective of age.
- Christmas Celebration:
To bring about the family spirit in the family feast of Christmas, parents and children should together prepare sweets, the crib and star at home. Love came down on Christmas in the form of a little baby. The words Love, Joy and Peace are strongly associated with Christmas. In the season of Advent, we must consciously spread love, joy and peace through our thoughts, words and deeds. Spread the cheer of Christmas by visiting together as a family, orphanage, old age homes, by sharing and caring for the lonely and needy. Children can make gifts instead of buying them from out. Play Christmas carols, all through the season of Advent. After the family Rosary, if the children are small, the parents could explain to them the message of a carol and then sing it together. If the children are grown up then each member of the family can chose one carol for each day and explain it to the members and then sing together. This will keep the feeling of Christmas alive and will increase the involvement of the family.
Aim: The joy that was experienced at the first Christmas at the birth of our Lord should be felt at every Christmas celebration. Every Christmas should help turn us into better human beings and better families, seeking Christ who was alone in the Manger and who still finds himself alone in the sick and lonely; our caring and sharing approach would be the best gift to the Lord for Christmas, a gift of our family to Him.
- New Year’s Day:
Usher in the New Year by attending the midnight mass or morning mass at the Parish. Surrender the New Year in God’s hands and start a journey of doing good every day for the family. To mark the journey of being a disciple of Christ, keep a dry branch in a vase near the home altar and add a leaf or a flower for every good act you do to your family. Every time you slip up, take a leaf off the tree and strive hard to put it back by doing two good acts to correct yourself.
Aim: By the year end the tree will bloom or remain barren. This will show us how much we have grown as a family helping each other through the year and the personal conversion that has taken place.
OR Make a family book. Mark the journey of the family right through the year. Enter your success, failures, highs and lows.
Aim: By the end of the year we will have learnt which areas of our life we need to work on, how many trials we have overcome successfully as a family.
- The Season of Lent:
Celebrate the Reconciliation Day at home. The whole family sits together and in a spirit of prayer and trust share with one another the hurts they caused to the family, the hurdles that affected the growth of the family to be what she is called to be, (Share, accept and forgive each other in the family for faults and weaknesses). After the sharing let go off the hurts and grudges we were holding on to. Do not look back, look forward.
Activity: Place a glass jar at the center of the family table. On the 1st Sunday of Lent, place in the jar a small heart (cut out of card paper). Before you sit for family prayers reflect on the heart of Jesus. He loved us so much that he was willing to die for us. We need to show that same love to our family.
On the 2nd Sunday place a small seed in the jar to remind us that God plants the seed of love in our heart. We need to nurture that seed so that it will bloom. Do more for your family out of love.
On the 3rd Sunday place a small rubber band in the jar to remind us that God always stretches His patience with us, and we need to do the same for others at home.
On the 4th Sunday place a dice in the jar to remind us that we need to take turns at home to share responsibility voluntarily.
On the 5th Sunday place a Band-Aid in the jar to remind us to help our family members when in need and when they are sad or ailing.
Aim: The Lenten activity in the Lenten season should bring about a true change of heart in us. This change should be gradual, day after day, week after week. As Christians we must experience the liberating love of Jesus Christ in our family. To celebrate this love, all family members should remain present when the Priest comes to our home for the Easter Blessing.
- Parents talk to the children about values:
Inculcate respect for family values in children like time for prayer, studies, parish activities, obedience to elders etc. Gender sensitivity in boys is important so too traffic discipline for road safety. It is important for them to respect their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. Girls must be trained for spiritual leadership and encouraged to look unto Mother Mary for her virtues of humility, simplicity, patience and endurance which are important qualities when they become wives and mothers.
Aim: Our homes will be real schools where our children will learn human and spiritual values and be real examples of Christian life and models of Christian homes.
Animators can encourage the ward members to write down how these activities have helped us become better Christian families. Their input can be printed in the Parish Bulletin as ‘Fruits of the Year dedicated to the Family’.
We hope that this programme will help us to become What God in his Divine Wisdom intended us to be. Family values cannot be taught, they are caught. So what parents do, children will observe and learn and follow. May ours homes and life becoming God’s dwelling place and our families become what they are called to be.
(Taken from the Parish Bulletin Katedralacho Ulo, Old Goa)
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