Tomorrow Pope Francis will release his post-synodal reflection on the family, titled "Amoris Laetitia," or "The Joy of Love: On Love in the Family." The topic of family has been on my mind quite a bit recently because it was at the root of two stories I wrote for the Finger Lakes regional section of the Catholic Courier’s April edition.
One of these stories was about the Herendeen family of St. Peter Parish in Shortsville, Phelps and Clifton Springs. The parish’s Knights of Columbus recently selected the Herendeens as the recipients of their first Family of the Year Award because three generations of the family not only attend Mass together each week but also are involved in various facets of parish life.
Another story was about the different approaches three parishes have taken to attract children and young families to Mass and help them feel comfortable there. One parish has put together bags filled with snacks and quiet, religious-themed activities for young children to use during Mass. Another provides a safe place for parents to drop off their young children for an hour on Sunday mornings. The parents attend Mass while their preschool-age children receive an age-appropriate lesson based on that week’s Scripture readings, and their younger children have supervised play time. And still another parish invites its school-age children to serve as lectors, altar servers, ushers, greeters and choir members in its monthly Children’s Masses.
Each of these parishes has placed a priority on making their parishes safe and welcoming places for families. As the mother of three young children, I know firsthand how much such efforts are appreciated.
What can you do to make your parish more family friendly? Who would you nominate if your parish had a Family of the Year Award?