Family: What More Can be Done?
Participating in a conference of the Department of Social Development was enlightening and for me also affirming. I know that those in the DSD Family Directorate and the family services forum understand and base their work on the priorities of the white paper on families with its focus on family preservation, strengthening and awareness-raising.
Positive Aspects of Families
Readers of this column over the years will know that those are my priorities too, developed and presented mainly through Marfam’s various resources. Since 1994 we have produced a magazine with a deliberately broad family focus on evangelisation by and for families.
Marfam as a marriage and family renewal ministry was promoting the family focus as the foundation for Church and society, taking it from the African Synod image of Church As Family.
It was never intended for Marfam to concentrate on addressing directly the problem areas in family life, eg substance abuse, domestic violence, hurting marriages.
The year planner calendars that have been around for decades, with the more recent daily reflection booklets, raise awareness, promote family spirituality and provide information, but leave dealing with the social ills to other more specialised resources.
Marfam still wasn’t all about publications. Radio Veritas, this Southern Cross column, many parish and diocesan visits to speak or run workshops have been carried out.
Since retiring from the SACBC Family Life Desk in 2015 my work has continued, with time mainly spent on Marfam matters. That part of my life is likely to change and diminish too. Support for the print media has diminished and more energy is likely to go into the digital domain where Marfam already has a website, e-newsletter, Facebook and Twitter presence.
There are other possibilities too as family does matter, as much if not more than ever.
Courses and workshops can be developed and run. Training in caring for parish families is still a need.
But new blood is needed too to make it possible for the concern with family matters to continue. I intend to cut back and hand over to a new co-ordinator and a new board and so Marfam is recruiting new people with passion and vision, with energy and direction.
Short of People and Funds
Unfortunately we’re in a Catch 22 situation. Without a comprehensive plan for a way forward it is difficult to raise the funds to implement it and without people a plan cannot be developed.
There is no doubt that family does matter, but how the necessary support can be given to families remains to be seen.
Sporadic attempts are made to focus on family life, as in the Synods on the Family in 2014 and 2015, Pope Francis’ publication of Amoris Laetitia and the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Ireland in August.
But again in promoting a truly family- friendly view it is necessary to accept that family is family every day. Marriage, parenting and care for the elderly are the stuff of life 24/7, in season or out so season.
July is Grandparents Month
Don’t forget July will be the month for grandparents around the feast of St Joachim and St Anne on July 26 when parishes can honour, pray for and thank all grandparents.
How can you help to maintain Marfam as a resource for family strengthening? Do you have the passion and commitment to dream the dream of healthy families, living and practising their unique spirituality? Being family-friendly of course! Contact us, and to help, donations are desperately needed too.
Visit www.marfam.org.za for details.