Welcome to St Helen’s Parish Family Groups and the beginning of a remarkable adventure. Soon you will be forming new relationships and building on existing ones that will grow in your Family Group. It can be a little daunting at first because of the unknown factor – you don’t quite know what to expect because you’ve not been through this experience before or you feel perhaps you already have enough things to do that fill up your days and how can you possibly fit Family Groups in?
About Parish Family Groups
God wants us to make a difference in our communities, First, we have to make a difference in our church, then…together we can make miracles.
Parish Family Groups were first formed in 1977 with help from Father Peter McGrath and the Passionist Family Group Movement in Australia and have since spread throughout the world. They aim to foster friendship, community and social activities, and support to others.
People are placed into groups then meet up to discuss possible activities then agree to meet socially every 4-6 weeks. Members are babies to grandparents, singles, couples, young children, teens, grown up kids, step-families etc. The ideal family group has people of all age groups and backgrounds. People in Family Groups often find that members of their family who do not attend mass tend to be happy to come to family group activities with their family and sometimes even decide to attend Mass. A good first outing is to share a meal or have a games night.
PFG build community by enabling parishioners to get to know other members of their parish more closely and develop community as in the early church so that parishioners support each other in their joys and sorrows. They provide opportunities to involve children in Christian sharing. Parishes that have Family Groups become churches anchored in love – love for one another and truly blessed by God. People really get to know one another much better in Family Groups and feel much more comfortable because of this, are more able to work as a team to reach out and do God’s work – and really enjoy doing it!
Family groups are a simple and effective means of deepening the community life of a parish. The support and friendship offered by the parish family can help to combat loneliness and provide a genuine support network for individuals, couples and families. Family groups are coordinated by volunteer Parish Coordinators and Group Leaders. Groups usually meet once a month and everyone is welcome. Each group decides what it wants to do.
You might wonder what all the fuss is about – sure you’ve been bowling, BBQ’s, to restaurants and weekends away before with family or friends, however the main difference in doing all these things with your Parish Family Group is that you will start to feel God’s love working away through the group and it won’t be long before you are really looking forward to the next month’s event.
In each group, there is a Leader Couple. Their job as Leaders is not to be organisers of all that happens, but to help members to get to know one another, be aware of any needs of the group, to know what’s happening within the Group and keep in contact with the other Leaders and the Co-ordinators in the Parish. One of the best ways you can support your Leaders and your group is by regular attendance at the various events that you have all arranged. It’s great for bonding and morale when there is a good turn-up.
Some Important Notes…
Family Group Calendar – Some groups find it is important to keep some sort of Family Group Calendar in order to keep dates for birthdays, anniversaries etc so they can be recognised and, perhaps celebrated.
Family Group Journal or Photo Album – Some groups find it nice to keep a record of the activities and so keep a ‘Family Group Journal’ or ‘Photo Album’ so that people can look back and see what was happening and just enjoy the memories and friendships that Parish Family Groups provide.
Family Group Kitty is a good idea and it can provide for such items as flowers or cards for sick members or little gifts for special occasions such as the birth of a new little member, engagement, anniversary, etc.
Group Weekend – Plan ahead for your group weekend away. This is a very important time for the group because of the strong bonding that occurs so naturally. All members are encouraged to attend. Keep it simple and look for reasonably priced places which cater for large groups and families. There are many such places in the UK.
Monthly Activities – It is the responsibility of the Group to take it in turn looking after the organisation of each monthly activity.
Newcomers – New families and people are always welcome into the Parish Family Group If a new person/family wants to join a group, please direct them to thee however should contact the PFG Co-ordinator to be placed into a group.
Personalities – Be sensitive to, and grateful for, difference in personality. These differences will sometimes frustrate you, but such differences also provide great potential for the enrichment of the group.
Some Suggestions for Family Group Activities
Soup and Sandwich supper or lunch
Wine and cheese evening with games
Simple catch up evenings with supper
Pot luck dinner
Bring a photo, tell the story
Christmas in July
Advent and Easter crafts
International dinner evening
Men’s cooking night
Games at home and coffee/cake
Weekend away (at least once a year)
Bush walk (geared to the youngest and oldest)
Car rally/scavenger hunt and picnic
Orienteering day with picnic
Family Group Anniversary Mass
Bush dance/Line dance with dinner
A day out on a Steam Train
A shared dinner at a home
Train trip and Morning tea
Breakfast at a café
Film afternoon/night (picnic style)
Sports Day (some play, some watch!)
For more information about our Parish Family Groups, please complete the form below.