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.

A study guide has been developed by the Office of Evangelization to help Catholics “break open” Bishop Cunningham’s pastoral letter. The guide aims to help readers “understand the challenges facing Catholic families today, and how they affect our faith life” and “take action in creating environments which strengthen our own families as well as those around us.” The guide breaks the pastoral into seven short sections and provides a summary, reflection questions, action steps, and further reading for each section. An excerpt from the section “God’s Plan for the Family” appears below. The complete guide can be downloaded at https://syracusediocese.org/year-of-the-family/study-guide/.

God’s Plan for the Family

   Bishop Cunningham reminds us that God created human life according to His plan, at the center of which is the great institution of sacramental marriage. Sacramental marriage is a living symbol of God’s love for the human race, and so it is unbreakable, faithful, and open to life. Christian marriages, by bearing witness to love, reflect the beauty of the Gospel, expanding their fruitfulness out to society.

Reflection questions

   • What is the difference between a sacramental marriage and a secular marriage?

   • Who are some examples of strong marriages among my family or friends? How are their lives a witness to sacramental marriage?

   • Why is sacramental marriage a low priority for today’s young couples? How can my family help reverse this trend? What is the role of the parish in reversing this trend?

   • What are some ways in which the Church can support marriage and assist those that are struggling?

Take Action

   • Celebrate your wedding anniversary with family and friends.

   • Send anniversary cards.

   • Initiate conversations with young people you know who are considering marriage.

   • Offer to babysit for married couples so they can have a night out.

   • Make parish ministry more family-friendly.

   • Attend a diocesan marriage workshop.

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