Last year family committees in the parish councils had problems deciding what to call the retreats being prepared for the parishes. In the past, they would be called couple retreats but times have changed. So begins the column in the "Eyes of the Believer" of the Catholic Times.
Today it is necessary to include other types of families: divorced, separated, bereaved, nonmarried and even the 'goose families'. (Families separated for the education of the children in foreign countries— mothers only return seasonally reuniting the families like migrating geese.) The scope of the retreat was expanded and promoted with the title of "family retreat". Often over half of the participants registered alone. The content is not limited to marital relations but includes communication and human relationships.
May is Family Month when marriage renewal ceremonies were carried out in many parishes, today no longer welcomed. In parishes the number of married couples is small and programs are not able to keep up with the changes in society. A new family pastoral paradigm is necessary otherwise efforts will miss the targets.
Homes of the 21st century are undergoing rapid change. The number of households is increasing due to the increase in the single-person households, low fertility rate, divorce, and remarriage etc., if the church continues to adhere to the traditional 'normal family' then all others will be excluded.
Moreover, even though today all households are greatly influenced by changes in social structure and systems, the existing family pastoral approach seems to remain in the past and the individual or family differences are bypassed, limiting the problem of the family to the private domain. The church still has a patriarchal family problem, so the unequal structures in society in which women are alienated and suffer are not treated as an issue, and the reality of discrimination continues.
This year's parish pastoral direction for the diocese is the foundation for mission; emphasizing the family community—highly anticipated because it focuses on pastoral care. It offers a variety of family programs for the spiritual growth of the members, communicating the heritage of the faith in grandparents, parents, and children with specific pastoral activities, daily household prayer, and weekly gospel sharing in the home. There are, of course, programs that take into account changes in the times, but the impression is that they are mainly focused on homes made up of couples and children.
The way the pastoral care of the family can be combined with culture is infinite. He hopes the diocese will put money and personnel into the research to make this the future reality.