Happy New Year! On December 26, 2021, just one day after Christmas, we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family. The Pope also published a Letter to Married Couples for the Amoris Laetitia Family Year 2021-2022. Our own confrere, Fr. Raja John in Edmonton, also sent a Christmas letter to the parishioners of St. John Bosco Parish that focused on the family. Since the leaders of all the groups of the Salesian Family in our province agreed to give more attention to the family during this fifth anniversary of Amoris Laetitia and in preparation for the World Meeting of Families (June 22-26, 2022), I am happy to share Fr. Raja’s letter with you.
Pope Francis established the Year of the Family on March 19, 2021, the Solemnity of St. Joseph. This marks the fifth anniversary of the publication of his Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, which means "the joy of love," and explores the beauty and joy found in family life. The Year of the Family will conclude on June 26, 2022, at the tenth World Meeting of Families in Rome with the Holy Father. Pope Francis established the Year of the Family to help strengthen faith and live God’s joy more fruitfully in family life. Pope Francis said he initiated the year so that "every member of the faithful, following the example of St. Joseph, may strengthen their life of faith daily in the complete fulfillment of God’s will."
Pope Francis has outlined five goals for the Year of the Family:
1.) Share the content of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia more widely, to let "people experience the Gospel of the family as a joy that fills hearts and lives."
2.) Proclaim that the Sacrament of Marriage is a gift that contains a transforming power of human love.
3.) "Evangelize and catechize inside the family."
4.) Foster awareness to young people about the joy of family life.
5.) Broaden the vision and scope of the family, including married couples, children, young people, the elderly, and situations of family fragility.
How can we celebrate this Year of the Family?
1.) This Christmas and New Year, we can come together as a family to pray together.
2.) Support another family in our neighborhood to have a meaningful Christmas celebration.
3.) Collaborate with the parish through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Women’s League, Knights of Columbus, Salesian Cooperators, or Legion of Mary to help another family or person in need.
4.) Understand marriage as a Sacrament and encourage our family members, friends, or relatives to set right their married life in the Church with the help of your pastor or participate in church programs like Worldwide Marriage Encounters or Retrouvaille.
5.) Help our young people to understand and esteem family as a basic unit of the universal Church and thus be proactive members of the Church.
Please know that your parish and pastor always have your back and are ever ready to help you achieve any of your goals and plans for the good of your family or your parish community. Thank you for your ongoing support of your church in this time of the world pandemic, so that we can continue to serve you and the community.
Thank you, Fr. Raja, for this inspiring and practical letter, which also helps us remember the importance the Congregation has given to youth ministry and the family. The sector for Salesian Youth Ministry recently published a booklet on this very topic, which is available in five languages. You can access the English version here.
At the very beginning of this new year, with the intention of renewing the Salesian charism in all our presences, it is worthwhile reviewing how we form and involve the family. May Mary, the mother of Jesus, and St. Joseph, her spouse, help us keep Jesus at the center of our lives, our families, and our communities.
Fr. Tim Zak