Changing attitude to family


Share the Dream News Story
Australian delegates at Vatican Congress on the family. Left to right: Ron and Mavis Pirola, Byron and Francine Pirola, Mark and Ursula Boyd.

The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, will be among the speakers at the National Family Gathering 'Share the Dream' conference to be held in Melbourne from 15 to 17 April (Palm Sunday weekend).

According to one of the couples involved in its organisation, 'Share the Dream' will exemplify changing attitudes to family life.

Ron and Mavis Pirola were co-convenors of the previous conference, 'Living the Dream', which was held at Hunter’s Hill, Sydney in 2004.

The Pirolas said the Melbourne conference will follow a similar pattern, with internationally recognised speakers, age-specific programs for children and 'Gen Why', a challenging stream for youth.

"Some years ago, if someone said they were engaged in family ministry, people assumed that they ministered to families," said Ron Pirola. "However, increasingly, they are engaged in ministry by families."

The Pirolas said this reflects the greater appreciation of the evangelising power of families, a concept championed by Pope John Paul II and taken up strongly by Pope Benedict XVI.

In 2009, the Holy Father expressed the need for a change in mindset concerning lay people.

"They must no longer be viewed as 'collaborators' of the clergy but truly recognised as 'co-responsible', for the Church's being and action," the Holy Father said.

This concept was the theme of an International Congress convened last November by the Pontifical Council for the Family in Rome.

At that Congress, there were 210 participants from 38 countries, comprising 180 lay delegates and many Cardinals, Bishops, priests and religious. Australia was represented by Ron and Mavis Pirola, fellow Sydney couple Byron and Francine Pirola and Rockhampton couple Mark and Ursula Boyd.

"The Rome Congress was a reminder of how easy it is to overlook the 'extraordinary in the ordinary'," the Boyds said.

"We are rightly aware of the pain that occurs with family break-up but we tend to forget or take for granted the corresponding fulfillment and witness provided by the vast majority of families."

The evangelising influence of families through the myriads of acts of caring in daily family life has been strongly emphasised by the Pontifical Council for the Family.

The Council's Secretary, Bishop Jean Laffitte, will elaborate on this when he presents the keynote speech at 'Share the Dream' in Melbourne.

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