September 23rd: The First Diocesan Held Symposium for Families

September 23rd: The First Diocesan Held Symposium for Families

On September 23rd 2017 the Diocese of Hamilton hosted it's first Symposium for Families. The event was hosted at the Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King and the Diocesan Chancery office. There were 117 attendees representing all kinds of families and all different family roles.

It was a full day, which started with a family mass celebrated by His Excellency, Bishop Crosby and followed by a short break. After the break the children headed to the Chancery office for their own activities while the adults headed downstairs for the presentations.

The Saint John's Bible made an appearance of sorts in both places. In the Cathedral, the adults learned about the Saint John's Bible from Docent Eric James who provided an overview of what the Bible is about, a bit of the history, its use in the Diocese and how people might engage with it at their particular parishes. For the older group of children, Librarian for the Bishop Farrell Library and Archives, and Saint John's Bible Docent, Maxine Whitehead shared pictures of the illuminations and discussed the mediums used to create the Saint John's Bible. After introducing them to how it was made, the children then participated in their own watercolour paintings of representations of their families. A coffee table version of the Saint John's Bible can be purchased by families by contacting Anthony De Feo in our Liturgy office.

Across the hall the younger children participated in games, arts and play time with volunteers from the Hamilton CYO.

Presentations continued with a talk from Monsignor Murray Kroetsch, Chancellor of the Diocese of Hamilton. The Gospel of the Family presented the importance of family in the lives of all people. It gave an overview of how families are to live as God intended them to be. Family is a gift of the faith, a way of living, meant to bring joy to those living within the family and indeed to the world. By looking at families and their purpose from the time of Creation and then focusing more specifically on their role and call as a Domestic Church, or a church in miniature, families present were reminded of their essential role in the lives of their children, the greater Church itself and in the community in which we live. The presentation was followed by group discussion and feedback.

After lunch symposium organizers Teresa Hartnett and Dr. Wendy Hofman from the Family Ministry office provided two more talks and discussions. 

Amoris Laetitia – The Joy of Love - By briefly presenting the content of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, written in response to the two Synods on the family in 2014 and 2015, family life in the world today was examined. Participants were broken into groups of young adults (with or without children), married with children beyond childhood, grandparents, and older adults  so they could discuss the material presented specific to what they were experiencing in their lives. The specific areas of Pope Francis letter covered were: Family and the Bible (which covered what we can learn from families in the Bible), The State of the Family (which looked at the many challenges facing families), The Ideal and Real Life (where Pope Francis asks us to embrace mercy when families don't meet our ideals), The Joy of Love & Marriage (which reminded us that marriage is a wonderful gift from God, but it is a place of challenges) and  The Joy of Parenting (which reminded parents that they are the main educators of their own children). How can we best support them in preparing their children to be disciples in the world?

Families in Today’s World – This presentation reminded those present that families build a foundation on which we stand and live – nothing impacts us more than our family. When we have grown and left home the teachings of the families, whether good, bad or indifferent, stay with us. Families were reminded that the Church recognizes the power and importance of the family. The presentation looked at the challenges to families today, but also the research that tells us of the strength and value of family and that families do indeed matter. An overview of the programs and supports available through the Family Ministry Office were covered and participants had a chance to provide feedback on their needs and how the Church might offer support. This ended with another table discussion and feedback on the programs suggested.

See below pictures from the day