Strengthening the ‘domestic church’ in the Year of the Family: Resources for caregivers

With the publication of his pastoral letter, “Enriching the Church: The Role of the Family in the Life of the Church of Syracuse and Beyond,” Bishop Robert J. Cunningham announced a special Year of the Family, which began in the diocese on Dec. 3, 2017.

   In his letter, Bishop Cunningham reflects on the mission of the modern family — evangelization — and how it can be accomplished by forming an “ecclesia domestica,” a “domestic church,” through prayer and worship, formation, community, and service. Throughout the Year of the Family, the Diocese of Syracuse and its ministries will focus on each of these pillars and provide resources families can use to build their domestic churches.

It takes a village to raise a child — and to nurture a family. Here are just a few of the diocesan and community resources you and your family can turn to for support.

   Your parish. Your faith family will always be there to offer you spiritual support, and many parishes also offer specific ministries designed to offer concrete support as well. No programs at your parish? Consider starting one. Elizabeth Ministry is dedicated to respecting all life, cherishing children, encouraging families, enriching marriages, and building community; find out more at jpiicenterforwomen.org/elizabethministry. Nourish is “a Christ-centered ministry to support the practical, emotional, and spiritual needs of family caregivers”; learn more about this ministry at nourishforcaregivers.com.

   The Office of Family/Respect Life. The diocesan office is the hub for ministries available throughout the diocese. These ministries offer support for marriages (The Third Option); natural family planning resources; support after miscarriage; healing after abortion (Project Rachel); support for those who are separated or divorced; and help for those struggling with issues such as suicide, self-harm, addiction, and other family or life issues. Visit syracusediocese.org/offices/familyrespect-life or call (315) 470-1418 to find out more.

   Catholic Charities. Across the diocese, Catholic Charities agencies offer a range of programs and services for families and individuals, including marriage, family, and youth counseling; parent aid services; health care management; and services to the elderly. Contact the Catholic Charities agency in your county to learn more about the resources available to you; find contact information at ccsyrdio.org.

   Your local aging office or agency. Every county in the diocese has an office or agency dedicated to providing services and programs for older adults. Visit your county’s website to connect.

 

The Kinne family includes Pat, Sarah, Hannah, and Alec. Alec is a fifth grader at Blessed Sacrament School in Eastwood. Hannah is a seventh grader at Bishop Grimes Jr./Sr. High School in East Syracuse, which is where Pat and Sarah are also teachers. In addition to teaching at Bishop Grimes, Pat, who is also an alumnus of BG, serves as Assistant Principal and IB Coordinator. The Kinnes are members of the Reformed Church of Syracuse on Teall Avenue, where Sarah is the Director of Christian Education and Pat is an Elder.

Share our Lent: The Kinne Family

   Editor’s note: During this Year of the Family, the Catholic Sun and the Diocese of Syracuse have invited families to offer reflections on how they observe Lent in their “domestic churches.” The series continues this week with the Kinne family.

Lent is a very special time of year for our family that we look forward to due to the traditions and customs that we have created together. To begin the Lenten season, we attend our church’s annual Pancake Dinner and Mardi Gras celebration. Our congregation does this in conjunction with the L’Arche Community in Syracuse. It is a wonderful time of fellowship, laughs, and games in addition to a delicious pancake dinner. The following evening, we return to our church to mark the beginning of the Lenten season with a special Ash Wednesday service. For Sarah and me, when our children, Hannah and Alec, receive ashes it is always a very powerful reminder that God has entrusted these precious children to our care, and we are visibly reminded of the awesome responsibility that we share in raising them in the faith.

Throughout the season of Lent, we take time to read our church’s daily Lenten devotional that includes reflections and Scripture verses that allow us to talk together and think about ways in which we can prepare our hearts for the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. Once we arrive at Holy Week, we participate as a family in the various worship services at our church. We participate in a more somber Maundy Thursday service where we remember the institution of the Lord’s Supper. On Good Friday, we gather for an evening candlelight service. One of the most memorable services we have been a part of in past years was the stripping of the church.

There was such power in this service, and it led to very meaningful conversations between us when items such as the Bible, the baptismal font cover, the Communion plate, cups, and flagon, and sanctuary candles were removed. The service culminated with the extinguishing of the Christ candle, and we left the darkened sanctuary in complete silence. The void of joy was palpable, and we yearned for the Alleluia’s of Easter morning. We have often remarked as a family that when we remember and take time out to really contemplate the passion and death of Christ, that it makes the joy of Easter and Christ’s resurrection so much more real for all of us. On Easter morning, we begin the day by attending the Sunrise Service for Eastwood Churches at Woodlawn Cemetery. We then begin a day of celebration with our favorite breakfast (an egg bake casserole and cinnamon rolls) followed by church and a wonderful fellowship time complete with food and an Easter egg hunt on the church’s front lawn that we invite all neighborhood children to attend. Following the conclusion of our church service, we gather together at Pat’s parents’ house where our family spends the rest of the day together celebrating the joy of Easter and Christ’s victory o’er the grave.