Local Passionist Family Group members, and others interested in hearing about what Pope Francis is saying in this the Year of Mercy, gathered together at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Palmerston North, on a Saturday early in May.
Paul Traynor, from Wellington, led the presentation as we looked back over the years since the PFG movement started in New Zealand in 1988 and at how times have changed dramatically in those 28 year from; the impact of war, terrorism and the refugee crisis on the world stage, to the impact of technology on family life including different ways of communicating, and the make up of people in our Parish community. As we know there are fewer younger people participating in church life and this decline is accelerating. We now have many people from a wide range of different ethnicities in our communities. Are we ready to welcome them? This is the changing world in which we live, and in which our Passionist Family Groups strive to meet the aims and goals of the Movement.
Pope Francis has urged parishes and religious communities to take in refugees reminding them that Christianity has to be lived, and not just talked about and celebrated in liturgies. He speaks about consumerism and the poor in his encyclical Laudato Si, and promotes a church which is committed as a gospel community, to the fundamentals of mission, concern for the poor, the environment, the divorced, gay and those of other faiths. The Pope is re emphasising the changes which were brought about with Vatican 2, and is encouraging a more pastoral approach. The Church must extend mercy and compassion and be a family for all.
The Passionist Family Group Motto of “A Family for All” is as relevant today as it was when we first began in 1988. We are challenged to look out for the people in our communities who may be looking to belong, but are slow at coming forward. This may include refugees and people of other faiths including Muslims. Our simple aims of living and loving like the early Christians, sharing our Christian lives, supporting each other in times of need, giving example and witness to others, especially our children, and helping to build community in our Parishes is the challenge we still face today. This is what Pope Francis is calling us to do with mercy and hearts wide open.
As always we came away from out gathering with a renewed spirit to take back and share with our Parish communities.
Teresa and Jeff Grant
Palmerston North Passionist Family Group Support Coordinators