21 August 2015, The Tablet

‘Families ministering to families’ could be new model for evangelisation in Ireland

The promotion of the New Evangelisation within the Irish Church will increasingly see families ministering to other families, the Primate of All Ireland has suggested.

Speaking to The Tablet in Knock last Saturday after he delivered his homily for the Feast of the Assumption, Archbishop Eamon Martin said he believed there was potential for families to reach out to other families and to be involved in the handing on of the faith. He cited the Neocatechumenal Way, Youth 2000 and some groups within the French Church as a model for this method of mission. 

“We have to remember that in the very early Church, the basic Christian communities were gatherings of families,” he said. “Also, in Ireland, the faith was traditionally handed on in the home and in the family. I think we have lost a little bit of that. We have to find a method for the modern family to be actively engaged in helping on the faith.”

The Archbishop of Armagh was speaking after his appeal during Mass to the faithful to pray one Hail Mary at least every day between now and the opening of October’s synod on the family in Rome. He said he hoped the synod would “float up” some practical ideas on good existing practice on how families can be involved in the Church’s mission of spreading the joy of the Gospel. He added that the Irish Church, in the light of the recommendations of the synod, may “look at the way we do marriage preparation and to what extent our families are involved in preparing new families for marriage”. 

Implementation of the synod’s recommendations may also see the evolution of new practices, he added. “It is going to take time, but it is happening already in small ways – we just need to grow it and develop it.” 

Separately, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who delivered an address at Knock, urged the people of Ireland to “stand firm” against efforts to “chip away” at Ireland’s pro-life eighth amendment. Speaking to The Tablet, he said: “If you want to learn something from the United States, once you begin to chip away at what should be a solid foundation – that all human life deserves protection from conception to natural death –  you are in trouble,” and there is no stopping it as “the exception becomes the rule”.

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