Over 1,200 families are participating in the Lenten Family Prayer Challenge this year. They have committed to praying as a family with 40 unique prayer challenges throughout this holy season. How will your parish assist families to continue their spiritual growth after Lent?
Consider helping families connect to a small group for the Easter season. Family Small Groups in the Easter season are the second part of our Archdiocesan plan to prepare for and celebrate the World Meeting of Families. For the seven weeks of the Easter season, families will be invited to gather with 2 to 3 other families to reflect on a weekly theme provided by the World Meeting of Families website. A list of tips and considerations, including a sample schedule, can be found here. Consider the following steps as you begin this ministry opportunity for families:
Let us know! Families that are currently participating in the Lenten Family Prayer Challenge will be encouraged to join a Family Small Group for the Easter season and will be given a list of participating parishes. Contact Tara Stenger by March 23 to have your parish added to the list.
Make a plan to connect families. Determine how you want families to sign-up to participate. If you are placing each family into a small group, determine the sign-up date and how you will notify the groups. Create a way for families to inform you if they organize their small group themselves, which will allow you to easily connect a family in need of a group to a small group with room for them.
Invite. Starting in Lent, promote the opportunity to join a Family Small Group for the Easter season. Utilize all your communication channels and encourage families to invite other families to participate. Clearly state the purpose of participating in a small group, the time commitment, and how to sign-up. Be sure to indicate the meeting location as well. Your parish may provide a time and space for families to gather (i.e., after Sunday Mass in the social hall), or you may encourage groups to set their own meeting times and locations. You can find a sample bulletin announcement and links to social media graphics in the “preparing” section of this article.
Train your facilitators. Invite a few families to be facilitators for the Easter Family Small Groups. If families self-form their small groups, ask them to select someone to serve as the facilitator. Gather the facilitators together to go over what this entails, provide practical tips, and share resources with them. You can go over the World Meeting of Families material and review resources, such as this Facilitator Guide. Follow-up with each facilitator throughout the Easter season to answer any questions, troubleshoot any issues, etc.
Pray. Pray for this opportunity, the group facilitators, and the participants. Continue pray for them and their spiritual journeys throughout the Easter season.
Plan follow-up events. Consider hosting an event for families to celebrate the World Meeting of Families in June. In addition, have small group material ready for groups that want to continue meeting, such as 52 Sundays.
Family Small Groups are a chance for families to reflect on the theme of the World Meeting of Families, “Family Love: a Vocation and a Path to Holiness” and follow their own paths to holiness, with the support of other families. As Pope Francis reminds us,
In addition to the small circle of the couple and their children, there is the larger family, which cannot be overlooked. […] Friends and other families are part of this larger family, as well as communities of families who support one another in their difficulties, their social commitments and their faith. –Amoris Laetitia, 196