A Word From Our Patron

'Family Groups offer our Catholic communities the chance to become more family-sensitive, friendly and welcoming, in line with the objectives of the Bishops’ collaborative pastoral initiative: Everybody’s Welcome. At their best, Family Groups offer understanding, friendship and support to all, encourage and celebrate family life in its myriad forms, and help everyone in the parish feel that they belong. I am delighted to be the patron of the Family Group Movement (England & Wales), and to endorse this initiative.'

Peter Doyle, Bishop of Northampton

Family Group Movement Collage

Family Group Movement Collage

Thursday, 24 August 2017

First National Thanksgiving Mass for Family Groups in England & Wales

On Saturday 6th May 2017, 200 Family Group members and friends from England, Wales and Australia gathered in the Cathedral Church of Our Lady Immaculate & St Thomas of Canterbury, Northampton for the first national Thanksgiving Mass of the Family Group Movement in England & Wales. The Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Peter Doyle, Archbishop Peter Smith, Bishop Tom Williams, Bishop Patrick McKinney, Bishop Nicholas Hudson, Canon David Paul, Father Philip Glanfield, Fr Paul Standish, Canon Mark Floody and Fr Pat Munroe (Family Groups’ Chaplain).

In his homily Bishop Peter Doyle said:
‘Family Groups fulfil the role of accompaniment in just the right way for all of us whether we are single, married, separated or divorced or widowed… and may I encourage you, and my fellow bishops and brother priests, to promote more and more this simple but profound way of drawing us together in communion with the Christ who has died, who is risen, and who will come again.’

The Mass included a special candle commissioning for each of the Family Group parishes, and was followed by a wonderful, shared buffet lunch which gave people a chance to catch up with their fellow Family Group members from around the country. In the afternoon, people from some of the Family Groups gave some very interesting and poignant testimonies of what Family Groups have meant to them.

“We are carrying on the torch which began with Fr Peter and lighting the spirit in the hearts of our community.”
Stuart Monteith, of Our Lady and the Apostles Parish, Stockport.

'On 6th May we were lucky enough to go with Fr Pat and 20 other
 members from the Family Groups in Our Lady's Parish, Stockport to Northampton Cathedral to help celebrate and witness the 1st National Family Group Mass. It was a lovely day. We were made very welcome by Bishop Peter Doyle and we all enjoyed a lovely occasion.

We were among one of nine parishes present from different parts of the country with Family Groups to take one of the special candles, that was lit from the Paschal Candle, back to our parish and be the light of Christ.  The candle is now placed near the Altar in our Church as a living reminder of Family Groups in our parish and the great difference they make in having a welcoming parish where there is room for everyone.
Two of the younger families who went to Northampton shared their experience with the rest of the parish during Mass. It was very interesting hearing about the stories of other people from the different parishes.
I remember one lady saying that you don't need to have a family to be in a Family Group as we are all members of one large family, the family of God. I think that stuck with me as after Mass on Sunday we go out to the Guild Room through the Garden Area, which we created together, for drinks and biscuits have a laugh and talk just like any family would, while the children have a place to play. 
It's been a few years since Fr Peter and Gwen came from Australia and helped set up our Family Groups; a small idea that has grown into something global. Since then we have set up four groups that have formed into our parish a loving community, turning faces into names, acquaintances into friends and giving love and support to one another in the light of Christ. 
One of our Groups is for older people, many of whom live on their own. They meet in the Presbytery on the second Wednesday of the month; one special activity is raising funds for a parish in Peru and keeping in touch with their news. 
We were privileged to share an evening with the Australian delegation prior to going to Northampton.  They left us a small candle on which there is an image of the little Church, St Anthony's back in New South Wales, where it all began. They left this to remind us of their loving support for us and that we are carrying on the torch which began with Fr Peter and lighting the spirit in the hearts of our community.' Stuart 

“What an amazing and uplifting experience - I personally felt the Holy Spirit amongst us all!”

 ‘What a wonderful warm welcome I received in attending the National Mass for Family Groups – so many nice people greeted me – not strangers, but friends linked by a common faith bond. The Mass was beautiful and uplifting; Bishop Peter was so engaging inviting us all to pray together. What an amazing and uplifting experience. I personally felt the Holy Spirit amongst us all.
I was honoured and delighted to be chosen to collect the candle on behalf of our Parish – as the candle was handed to me Bishop Peter said some lovely words and prayed for the spirit to be with me as I brought the candle home to our parish. I will never forget that special moment as I stood at the Altar waiting for our candle to be lit – I felt that I was holding something special and precious in my hands. The coach home was full of joy and happiness. We all chatted, sang songs and swapped seats as we talked excitedly about the day. I do hope we can do this again sometime soon and thank you for a wonderful day and a lovely lunch.’  Agnes 

“We were made to feel so welcome!”
‘It was so lovely to meet up with other like-minded people and to share different perspectives of how the Family Group Movement is being interpreted according to each Parish’s needs. We were made to feel so welcome and a beautiful buffet was provided for us all to share. It would be good to meet up again & meet friends old and new.’  Carolynne

“The Family Group Movement has blossomed!”
‘The National Family Groups Mass was an amazing and moving event that showed how much the Family Group Movement has blossomed over the past 10 years throughout the UK. It was particularly humbling to hear from participants how the Movement has directly benefited their lives in so many personal ways. It was a truly amazing celebration, and we look forward to the next one.’ Liz

‘A truly lovely, spirit-filled experience which stayed with us for a long time!”
‘From the beginning of the car journey in the morning, meeting fellow Family Groupers, experiencing the simple yet profound Mass, sharing the tasty lunch and to the contemplative drive home at the end of the day, it was such a blessing and a truly lovely and spirit-filled experience which has stayed with us for a long, long time.’ Tracey

More images of the event

If your parish has any Family Group news to share, please EMAIL the Editor with details and high-resolution photos if available.

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