During this last week I helped to lead a Family Camp and Retreat on the outskirts of Sydney in the very beautiful landscape near the Hawksbury River. This was the first event of the newly established National Association of Catholic Families in Australia (founded some years ago in the UK). I was delighted to have been asked to involve myself with this fledgling Association in Sydney and to be Chaplain to the Camp. My experience of being involved with Catholic family events in the UK has been extremely rewarding - when Catholic families are "switched on" to their mission and the graces that are theirs - loads of human and Christian culture flows out of them.
We had 7.30am Mass each of the three days, talks on "The Eucharist and the Family", "Asceticism in the Family" and "The Family and the New Evangelisation". We prepared our meals and eat together, we experienced the "Flying Fox" and organised a magnificent Family Concert evening. The Camp ended with a Rosary procession through the woods at the Retreat Centre.
In 1981 John Paul II called upon Catholic families to associate - some families have heard his call and family events like these are taking place, albeit with small numbers, throughout the world. I have always encouraged families in the parishes in which I have worked in Leeds to come together, but I have usually found that their attention is on the secular world and have almost totally lost touch with Christ, and my encouragement has led to nothing. I am so grateful to these families of Sydney for the openness which they showed to God, to one another and to me.
There is a Family Conference/Retreat taking place in St Alban's in the Uk at the end of this month - this is your opportunity - become leaders in the new Culture which the Holy Spirirt wants to form!