“In my last pastoral letter, I also highlighted the importance of knowing, living, and sharing our Catholic faith. In order to do so we must be formed, not simply as individuals, but as families. First, as the domestic Church. Then, as the Body of Christ, the family of God. There are many ways this can take place. Regardless, it should take place in the context of the family.”

   — From “Enriching the Church: The Role of the Family in the Life of the Church of Syracuse and Beyond”

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.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.”

“How does the modern family strive to live God’s plan for marriage and family today, namely, by forming a domestic church of their own?” Bishop Cunningham writes. “Allow me to suggest a few time-honored, but very practical, powerful, and effective ways: (1) prayer and worship, (2) formation, (3) community, and (4) 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. (Click here for last week’s suggestions on strengthening family prayer life.) This week, here are four ways your family can continue its formation in the faith:

Attend an event at your parish or in your pastoral care area. Your children are enrolled in faith formation classes, but how can you continue your faith formation as an adult? Parishes, Catholic schools, and the diocesan Offices of Family/Respect Life, Faith Formation, Evangelization, and Youth and Young Adult Ministry are always offering programs and events to help strengthen and grow your faith. Take a look through your parish bulletin, or visit the diocesan events page at events.syracusediocese.org to find a workshop, mission, speaker, concert, volunteer opportunity, or group that interests you and your family.

Start a family Bible study. During Advent, read the Scripture leading up to Christ’s birth together and talk about it at dinner or before bed. You can find daily and weekly readings via the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at usccb.org.

Arrive for Mass a few minutes early and spend that time in prayer as a family. Discuss why this is important and how younger family members might spend that extra time in prayer.

• Go to confession as family. Parishes across the diocese will participate in the annual Light is On for You campaign on Monday, Dec. 18, offering extended hours for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession). Participating parishes will be open from 4 to 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Visit https://syracusediocese.org/being-catholic/the-light-is-on-for-you-campaign/ to learn about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, find a step-by-step guide to making a good confession, find participating parishes, and more.

• Bonus suggestion: Go to https://syracusediocese.org/year-of-the-family/ to watch video messages on timely family topics from Bishop Cunningham and diocesan ministry leaders.

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