June, here in South Africa, is the month dedicated to youth, but MARFAM’S theme “Children belong in families,” includes younger children too.  All children, including adolescents belong in families. Broadly speaking. That is because the majority of our children are not living in a nuclear family of dad, mom and kids, but more likely in a traditional structure, a culturally traditional one, which can include many relatives in an extended family.  However, in part as a consequence of urbanization, a single, mother-headed family has become the most common.  These mothers, sometimes are young teenage girls who have babies and have a life task to bring up their children into young adulthood. This is no easy task as these moms, often assisted by a grandmother, have to accommodate for an absent father too.   As children grow this absence of a father does leave a father wound.   Can that be healed?  Can those dads, especially teenage dads,  be brought into the picture for healing on both sides?   Any programme of education or youth development of any kind must take this into consideration and ask, “What skills do the youth need most?  Are we teaching, supporting, or mentoring the youth?   Who is best suited to do so? 

With our MARFAM creation-centred view, we are applying the lesson to animals too. Have you heard about the delinquent Pilanesberg elephants?   There was a group of adolescent elephants imported into the newly-established Pilanesberg game reserve some years ago.   They soon started creating havoc, fighting and even attacking other animals.  After due consideration of possible causes it was concluded that it was due to a lack of adult supervision.   When some adult elephants were brought in the problem was solved.   Lesson learned???  

The current awareness of climate change, call it OUR WORLD OF FAMILIES or Laudato Si’ looks for a response from everyone.  The Church’s Laudato Si’ Global Action Plan consisting of 7 areas of implementation will be fully presented in October but for the moment we are aware that the first area will be families, so if we have not already done so we can begin to practice some activities right away.  Judy Stockill, a Johannesburg archdiocesan climate activist presented a list of suggestions which were contained in the Laudato Si presentation the Archdiocesan Family team made on 20 May.   You can still watch this on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFnFqhB8ENA   any time.  Some of Judy’s intriguing garden ideas to support nature are: a bird bath – (renew the water and if necessary remove the ice in the morning) bird nesting sites, bee hotel, insect hotel, bat box, owl box, frog pond, bee drinking station, and natural feeding sites. Birding is growing in popularity too.

On my recent trip to the Northern Cape, after catching up with bishop Joe Kizito and the family life team,  I stopped at Mount Carmel Youth Centre outside Aliwal North to interview the new manager, Artwell Chivhinge.  He shared some of his enthusiasm for ecological conversion, recycling, permaculture and organic food gardening, that he is imparting to the youth in their Skills Development programme.   We will unpack his ideas and plans further during my programme FAMILY MATTERS on Radio Veritas on Wednesday 9th June. Check out the podcast later on www.radioveritas.co.za

It is exciting that things are happening on the ground, and in the ground and in homes, in spite of too much negative daily news fare. Last but not least, a final WAY TO LIVE LAUDATO SI for families as suggested by the GLOCAL CATHOLIC CLIMATE MOVEMENT (GCCM).  

  • Pray with and for creation. Include a daily prayer of thanksgiving for creation and for protection for OUR COMMON HOME and
  • Pray with the news,” incorporating people or events impacted by current ecological issues.  Even us home-bound-awaiting-vaccination oldies can do that.  
  • Celebrating God’s love.   All prayer is a celebration of God’s love. The feast of the Sacred Heart this week and Corpus Christi early in the week celebrated God’s love in Jesus who said, “This is my Body, given up for you.” That too is our calling in families where each day we give our bodies, and hearts in memory of Him. TR FAMILY WEEKLY 9 June 2021