December 29, 2019, Feast of the Holy Family
Greetings supporters and friends of Your Holy Family Ministries. We pray that your Christmas season has been and will continue to be filled with Faith and Family. We write to you with much joy after celebrating Christmas with most of our children who were able to travel home. Our hearts are full of gratitude for what God has been building in our family over the years. We have seen many struggles, triumphs, and much growth in our family, and we are in awe of how God continues to bless us with the beautiful souls of our children to accompany us on our journey towards Heaven. We are thankful that each day provides opportunities for our children to teach us how to love as God loves.
Thank you for your Faithful Witness to God’s Plan for Family Life
We are all strengthened by the families around us and each of you have been part of that cloud of witnesses that has helped our family grow closer to each other and closer to Our Lord. Our ministry desires to share more than just theories on how to form a holy family and raise saints, and so, in that spirit, here are some practical pieces of advice for making 2020 the best year yet for your family.
Quantity–not just Quality–of Time is Important
A strong relationship between you and your child(ren) can see them through just about any difficulty or struggle they may encounter along their journey of life. St. John Paul II called this the communion of persons. A family is a community of persons, the first and most important community for every human being. The family can be a community where the members love one another unconditionally or not; a place where the members feel safe, secure, and loved, or not; a place where they know people care about them, or not. Parents have the most influence in defining the culture within their family. This culture should be healthy, loving, and life giving. This culture is fragile and it needs to be cultivated and constantly monitored. It is easy for excessive activities, negativity, sarcasm, the media, and unhealthy friendships to have an undesired effect on the culture of the family and on each member of the family.
At the core of the family culture are the relationships between family members, the primary being between the husband and wife and secondarily between parents and their children. If you get these right, the relationships between the siblings will follow suit.
Make Sure Your Children Know You Like Them
There is a huge difference between your children knowing that you love them versus them feeling that you like them. Typically children in the teen years begin to wonder if their parents really like them. Think about it, do your kids know that you like them? Do you spend time with them for no particular reason, do you listen to their thoughts and dreams, do you ask them about their hobbies or interests. Sometimes, the things your teens are interested in may seem juvenile and perhaps are not the things that you consider exciting or even interesting. It is important to remember that we are investing into the soul of each child, and it does not always need to be a scheduled time or purposeful discussion. I like to say it is not simply the quality of time you spend with your kids, it is about the quantity of time. You simply cannot invest enough time in your children, so do your best and give of your time unselfishly to your children.
The Year in Review
2019 has been a year to remember. It has been tough, and we often struggled to understand God’s plan and how writing a book on clerical sexual abuse fit in with the mission of this ministry. As we met with contributors and entered into sometimes painful dialogue with people who have been profoundly affected by this scandal, it became apparent to us that what was common in all these painful stories is how a significant part of each person’s healing came through a good family. We all come from a family, some of us have good families of origin, some not so much. Our families of origin shape us into who we are, they shape the culture in which we live, and affect it positively or negatively. If anything good has come out of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal, it is the recognition that the family is critically important in protecting and healing individuals and communities affected by these horrible crimes. In all, we collaborated with ten other authors and multiple editors to write a book to bring healing to victims of abuse, their families, and the community of believers. The book includes the personal witnesses of the founders of Your Holy Family, chapters on how your family can be an agent of healing, and the best method to end sexual abuse. Your purchase of the book from Amazon supports the ongoing mission of Your Holy Family. If you desire to read the book and are short on funds, please contact us.
In addition to writing Abuse of Trust, we worked with some outstanding dedicated families to run our annual retreat for families in Texas. The retreat reached full capacity serving 38 families, which totaled over 200 individuals. The talks given on the retreat were presented by different couples who were attending the retreat and were broadcast live on Facebook. If you are interested in holding a retreat for families in your area, please contact us, our mission is to promote family ministry throughout the Church. We have assisted both parishes and schools in planning, promoting, and running family events tailored to the needs of their communities.
Lastly, we would like to publicly welcome Jerry and Abigail Ahrens to Your Holy Family’s Board of Directors, meet Jerry and Abigail by visiting our website.
The Year Ahead
Looking forward to the future, we foresee the desperate need to develop first-in-class materials to help equip communities around the world so they may begin establishing effective ministry to strengthen families. This work is vital to the work of evangelization and to the stability of our society. Healthy families produce healthy neighborhoods, cities, states, and countries. Towards this end, we will complete the draft version of our guide to conducting family retreats followed shortly by a comprehensive guide to establishing ongoing, regular family ministry within a parish or other communities of families. We will continue to conduct our annual Texas retreat for families and will gradually transform this event into an opportunity for leaders around the country to experience family ministry that they can take back to their own communities. In addition to the annual retreat for families, we will be bringing back the Family Fun Day. This mini-retreat will be held quarterly in Central Texas and will seek to provide ongoing formation for families throughout the year.
Besides the time we will devote to the development of local family ministry, we will continue to promote Abuse of Trust through speaking engagements, social media, and engagement with Catholic media outlets.
A Ministry that Changes the World
Please consider a monthly gift to Your Holy Family Ministry. Support the work we are doing, and plan to do, to expand to a world that desperately needs the witness and fruits of faithful families. Your witness inspires others, and the fruits (children and good works) of your family guard, reveal, and communicate love to a world that too often revels in division and discord.
The answer to many of the ills in our Church and in our society is family life well lived. Together, we can change the world, one family at a time. The need is great and we cannot do this alone. We need your witness. We also need your financial support. Finally, we need your continued prayers. Together, we can bring the Kingdom of God to those who are suffering and may be tempted to lose hope.
Consider becoming a monthly supporter of Your Holy Family. Your gift of $20, $50, $100 or more a month will go a long way in furthering our mission to share the good news of God’s plan for family life.