Marriage and Family

Diary: Day Two

24/08/2018 10:00 am

Cardinal Nichols speaking at lectern WMOF 1024-768

It was a good day for team England and Wales at the World Meeting of Families. Starting with a workshop and ending with a book launch, the delegation were truly able to showcase all the fantastic marriage and family life ministry that takes place in England and Wales.

Caroline Dollard, of the Marriage and Family Life Office at the Bishops' Conference hosted a workshop with Bishop Peter Doyle. The theme of the workshop was "Marriage Preparation and the Parish in the Light of Amoris Laetitia". She focused on the importance of welcome in marriage preparation and the role that the parish plays in that welcome. She said, "nothing can prepare us for this lifelong journey, but we can take each step of the adventure with the support of those around us." Bishop Richard Moth, of Arundel and Brighton Diocese was inspired by this message, suggesting that he will return to the diocese "ready to explore further the role of the parish mentor in accompanying those preparing for and living their vocation to marriage".

Following this theme, Cardinal Vincent Nichols gave the day's keynote address on "support and preparation for marriage in the light of Amoris Laetitia". He addressed the growing idea in our culture that marriage is a private thing. He encouraged the role of the parish and asked them to "embrace this moment with couples and help [the couple] to see the wider richness of the sacrament". The Cardinal closed his address with a challenge. "Be intentionally welcoming. There is no such thing as a normal marriage. Parish support is crucial in everyone's journey." The English and Welsh delegates were particularly moved by the Cardinal's personal approach. "We really loved the importance of our hands in the Cardinal's speech. Right from in the womb until we join hands in the marriage ceremony, our hands are so part of our every day lives, but also part of our faith lives too".

The day was rounded off with a celebration to launch a new pastoral resource, Seeking God Together. Seeking God Together is a companion to support the pastoral accompaniment of families, from cradle to grave, and through all walks of life. The guide is comprised of nine "seasons" of family life, and gives those working in ministry in parishes and schools (as well as at home) an opportuntiy to accompany families, whatever their circumstances. The book is steeped in the guidance of Amoris Laetitia and encourages parishes to take responsibility for caring for those around them. Bishop Peter Doyle and Cardinal Nichols congratulated those who had been part of the book's production and celebrated the success of Marriage and Family Life ministry in England and Wales. Cardinal Nichols spoke warmly of the contribution from both national and diocesan teams to the World Meeting of Families.

The delegation were also able to celebrate Bishop Peter's golden jubilee of ordination, for which he gave thanks for the many blessings in his ministry, including much of the work of those present at the event.