In honor of the Synod on the Family, which takes place in Rome in October, St. Christopher Parish in Tonawanda will hold its own Family Day to promote the Catholic Church providing pastoral care for all families and the need for this care regardless of how traditional or non-traditional they may be.
The event, which will take place on Saturday, Oct. 17, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., promotes the idea of unity within the Church. The entire day, entitled "Love is our Mission: the Family Fully Alive," follows the catechetical model of the World Meeting of Families the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued.
"The Family Day is really a day focused on the family, whether traditional, non-traditional, nuclear, extended - every definition of family is invited to this day, with different workshops and practical strategies of ways to be a better family," said Father Bryan Zielenieski, parochial vicar of St. Christopher Parish.
The day will feature a number of workshops for attendees, all of which will have a different theme and address unique issues that matter to modern Catholic families. Lunch will be provided.
Some workshops will address how to live the faith at home and how to minister to all Catholic families in a sensitive way, including people who are divorced or gay, to make them feel welcome and ensure they receive the proper support from their families. Some portions of the event will be age-specific and appropriate, while other workshops will be open to members of the family of all ages.
The guest speaker will be Daniel DeMatte from Dynamic Catholic, whose wife, Amber, is also giving a presentation. Dan DeMatte, a youth minister, evangelist and missionary from Ohio, has appeared on television to promote the faith, including on "The Today Show" and "Larry King Live." He is pursuing a master's degree from Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus. The DeMattes have three children.
According to Father Zielenieski, having a day focused on family life is needed because Jesus was born into a family. The family is "the first place for us to meet God, and therefore we need to strengthen the family," he said. "We want to do something, as a Church, that strengthens the faith of families."
"No matter where they are in their family journey, we want to try to provide something to help empower and strengthen them," Father Zielenieski said.
Father Zielenieski added that because there no definition of traditional family, it is good to be able to offer something where people can feel comfortable to ask questions and find out what the Church teaches about some of these key issues. He said some parishioners might ask if someone who is gay or divorced is welcome in the Church, since they may not feel as though they are. The event will address these things and provide a forum for people to talk about issues and ask questions.
Father Zielenieski said parishioners are excited that the parish will be spending a whole day focused on the family and providing this opportunity. St. Christopher Parish also offers ministry that caters to families on a daily basis. It offers everything for every stage of life, including bereavement ministry, a marriage ministry program with its faith formation, a senior group and youth ministry.
Cost to attend the event is $15 per person or $30 per family and includes lunch.
For more information about this and other events at St. Christopher Parish call 716-692-2660.