As the theme for the IYF+30 is “Families and Climate Change” I believe the heading and title of a current MARFAM document is very appropriate.  BECOMING ECO-FRIENDLY FAMILIES has been a focus from the time when I became more conscious in recent years of OUR WORLD, A FAMILY OF FAMILIES.    Having spent almost 30 years developing MARFAM’s ministry has been a journey of discovery about many aspects of family life.  But even pre 1994, when MARFAM was formally established in the Johannesburg diocese, my late husband, Chris, and I were involved for 15 years in marriage ministry, primarily marriage preparation.  Pre- and even post- Vatican II the Catholic vision has tended to be that a family is build on a marriage of a man and a woman.  

In his recent statement to the UN International Conference on Population Development on the Plan of Action Statement by Archbishop Caccia in the General Debate of the 57th Session of the Commission on Population and Development (  the Nuncio referred to the 30th anniversary of the International Day (Year) of the Family and stressed the importance of support for and consistent support to address needs such as poverty alleviation while clearly recognizing the changing demographics in these last 30 years. That was affirming, as I am well aware of this reality and have travelled along with the process in my life and my work.   Very noticeable is the reality that marriage is down and single parenting up,  but also many single, unattached, uncommitted people exist. Migration, ageing, employment and new technologies are mentioned but what seldom seems to be highlighted is that empowering women does have implications for family functioning.

I’m focusing on current events with a family focus while a collaborative team from different Church departments has also created reflection materials for the time. Mothers’ Day 12th May.  The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 12-19 May,  International Day/Year of Families 15 May, Pentecost 19 May,  Laudato Si Week 19-26 May.   Clearly these all tend to overlap and run into each other, which is also a boon as they can be combined and enriched.  How many mothers are living in interdenominational families?  On Pentecost Sunday a small team has worked on an informal interdenominational prayer service that can be held in all kinds of settings, parish, sodality, mixed Christian groups of choirs or other interests bringing in various different aspects of families as seeds of hope in creation and more.  While an interfaith/interreligious focus is growing our Christian calling and mission – in a secularist world –  is to follow Jesus Christ and his Father’s love for all of creation.   

MARFAM’s May focus is PARENTS FORM FAMILIES.   The IYF background document FAMILIES AND CLIMATE CHANGE noted both the impact on families and  how families themselves impact on climate, through our behaviour and lifestyles.  Some of this is being developed in a current MARFAM document and the aspect of parents’ influence from early infancy in all stages of their upbringing.  Let’s not leave it to the professionals in ECD centres, creches, schools, universities or peers to learn the lessons of life according to our own particular family values.  That is what parent’s forming families is about and why we should honour mothers on their special day each year. Happy Mothers’ Day to all. .   Consider the following:

  • Ideally families as units could adopt any issue together, which can also strengthen their own relationships as they expand their knowledge and love for the environment.
  • Nature visits, research projects, photography, social dia chat groups, writing and art work, tree or vegetable planting can be done at home.   
  • Parents should spend time with children from very young howing and teaching about life, nature, God and creation.   Just looking at and discussing a flower or insect is a lesson of love.    TR FW 8 May 2024


May 8.   Nestor was new to the faith sharing group and brought a lot of new insights.  “The unknown god is an interesting and a powerful image for me as I’m still learning. Maybe we should take a good look at what Paul had to say, using the title as an opportunity to preach a God he knew quite intimately rather than someone he didn’t know.”   “In another sense it does make me wonder whether an unknown god is more the reality for our youth,“ Mary-Ann, a teacher, remarked.

Reflect, share, scripture: Paul spoke to the people of Athens. I found an altar with this inscription “to an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. Acts17:15 – 18:1.  Pope Francis: “Youth” does not exist, only young people, each with the reality of his or her own life.  In today’s rapidly changing world many of those lives are exposed to suffering and manipulation.  They live in a world in crisis.  Some live in war zones and experience violence of all kinds. Many are taken in by ideologies and exploited to destroy, terrify others, becoming hostile and distrustful. Many are suffering but some young men and women are able to move forward.  Jesus does not teach you from afar, or from without but from within your very youth.  Contemplate the young Jesus from the gospels for he was truly one of you. He is calling us to enkindle stars in the night of other young people.  From Letter to Youth.    ACTION.   Consider how well known our God is to you.