Diocesan Pastoral Council to seek information on family life

Categories: Around the Diocese

By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully
The Visitor

Representatives of the Diocesan Pastoral Council are seeking comments on family life — including challenges and ways to enrich it — and will report their findings to Bishop Donald Kettler.

The bishop made his request for the information at the council’s Sept. 13 meeting in Elrosa. He said he would like representatives to gather it from each parish.

“What are they suggesting we do to enrich families?” Bishop Kettler asked. “I would like to hear what they are working on in each of the parishes. I would like their staffs and their parish councils to talk about where we stand with family, what we should do, and what the biggest concerns are.”

He said he will discuss the comments he receives with his diocesan staff.

Family is synod focus

Chris Codden, director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family, spoke during the meeting on the topic of family life and upcoming synods on the family.

An Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will take place Oct. 5-19 in Vatican City to analyze information, testimonies and recommendations about family life based on the responses to a questionnaire sent to the world’s bishops last November

The meeting will be followed by the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2015 to formulate appropriate guidelines for the pastoral care of families.

Codden said the synods are raising awareness about important family issues on which people can reflect in their own lives.

“It will get people talking and doing things,” she said. “Maybe they will think about, ‘How can I strengthen my marriage? Or what can I do in my parish?”

In preparation for the Extraordinary General Assembly, a document, “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization: Instrumentum Laboris” was written based on consultation with many people.

Codden explained the topics addressed in the document to the Diocesan Pastoral Council.

It is divided into three parts: “Communicating the Gospel of the Family in Today’s World,” “The Pastoral Program for the Family in Light of New Challenges” and “An Openness to Life and Parental Responsibility in Upbringing.”

The first part describes God’s plan for marriage and family, drawing on biblical teachings and church documents. It explains natural law, the family’s role in society, the necessity of properly prepared clergy and ongoing formation for couples.

Part Two explains pastoral programs and pastoral challenges for the family. The last part concerns an openness to life and raising children.

Issues addressed in the document include difficulties in relationships, cohabitation, domestic abuse and consumerism.

Among other business the council:

• Discussed Fortnight for Freedom, an initiative started by the U.S. bishops to foster awareness of religious liberty through education and prayer. A prayer service was held June 29 with Bishop Kettler at St. Mary’s Cathedral for Fortnight for Freedom.

• Discussed the best way to communicate between representatives and constituents. Bishop Kettler would like the representatives to send meeting summaries to pastors and parish councils. He said he would like to know what parishioners are concerned about and would like his staff to be able to help address the needs of the people.