Family Ministry

The Diocesan Family Ministry exists to support our parishes in their mission to help to grow their spirituality and strength catholic values. Opportunities at the diocesan level for our families are offered to have a transforming encounter with Jesus Christ so that they can grow in their relationship with Him and share Jesus’ love in their everyday lives.

Family Ministry News

 

thinking-meditation

Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Call

Family faith expert Tom McGrath, offers a generous collection of easy tips and tools to help Catholic families realize a spiritual path, and to help parents inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in their children. Writing from personal experience and drawing from the experiences of others, McGrath—a father of two grown daughters—shows fellow parents how to bring faith into everyday family life through […]

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Festival of Families

It was an awesome night at Saint Michael! Festival of Families brought together clergy of the Diocese, Niagara Catholic staff and parents in a soccer game against an all-star team of Niagara Catholic students, BBQ, family activities, and Christian band competition. The festival started with an opening prayer services presided by Most Reverend Gerard Bergie, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of St. Catharines. […]

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Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Explore

Family faith expert Tom McGrath, offers a generous collection of easy tips and tools to help Catholic families realize a spiritual path, and to help parents inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in their children. Writing from personal experience and drawing from the experiences of others, McGrath—a father of two grown daughters—shows fellow parents how to bring faith into everyday family life through […]

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Portrait of affectionate family of four in isolation

Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Bless

Family faith expert Tom McGrath, offers a generous collection of easy tips and tools to help Catholic families realize a spiritual path, and to help parents inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in their children. Writing from personal experience and drawing from the experiences of others, McGrath—a father of two grown daughters—shows fellow parents how to bring faith into everyday family life through […]

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Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Try

Family faith expert Tom McGrath, offers a generous collection of easy tips and tools to help Catholic families realize a spiritual path, and to help parents inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in their children. Writing from personal experience and drawing from the experiences of others, McGrath—a father of two grown daughters—shows fellow parents how to bring faith into everyday family life through […]

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Little girl playing with balloons on wheat field

Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Succeed

Family faith expert Tom McGrath, offers a generous collection of easy tips and tools to help Catholic families realize a spiritual path, and to help parents inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in their children. Writing from personal experience and drawing from the experiences of others, McGrath—a father of two grown daughters—shows fellow parents how to bring faith into everyday family life through […]

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Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Fail

Family faith expert Tom McGrath, offers a generous collection of easy tips and tools to help Catholic families realize a spiritual path, and to help parents inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in their children. Writing from personal experience and drawing from the experiences of others, McGrath—a father of two grown daughters—shows fellow parents how to bring faith into everyday family life through […]

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Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Wash

Family faith expert Tom McGrath, offers a generous collection of easy tips and tools to help Catholic families realize a spiritual path, and to help parents inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in their children. Writing from personal experience and drawing from the experiences of others, McGrath—a father of two grown daughters—shows fellow parents how to bring faith into everyday family life through […]

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Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Cry

“Jesus wept.” This short verse in John’s Gospel always moves me. Because Jesus is both God and man,
he reveals the nature of God in a way we humans can witness and understand. When Jesus learned of the death of his dear friend Lazarus, he was overcome by tears and revealed the compassionate nature of God. God feels our pain and accompanies us in our sorrows. Life in a family involves moments of sadness, loss, or grief. Sometimes we may feel alone in our sorrow, but God is always close. As Jesus revealed and the mystic Meister Eckhart proclaimed, “Whatever God does, the rst outburst is always compassion.” Bring your sadness, loss, or grief and o er it to God who knows your heart and longs to comfort you in your sorrow. —Tom McGrath

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Portrait of affectionate family of four in isolation

Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Accept

A lot of the suffering I have known has come from failing to practice acceptance. Acceptance is neither resignation nor throwing in the towel. It is not a passive stance. Instead, it is taking the irrefutable step of saying yes to what is, rather than wishing for something else. Once we say yes to life on life’s terms, we give ourselves the power to choose our response and allow God enough room to act in the situation. Let us pray: “God, I know that this situation is difficult and disheartening. But I will not lose hope. I will rise to this challenge, knowing that even my smallest efforts will be outmatched by your desire for my well-being. Help me accept what is, so that I will be open to discovering with you what will be.” —Tom McGrath

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Mother assisting daughter in washing plate in kitchen at home

Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Serve

Research shows that children whose parents volunteer to help others are far more likely to volunteer when they grow up. My mother has inspired her children and grandchildren in this way for decades. She coordinated
so many events at the parish when I was growing up that we began to think that setting up tables and chairs was the Eleventh Commandment. Now in her 80s, Mom continues to volunteer—working with young people with special needs, washing and ironing the altar cloths, and working an afternoon each week at the thrift store that supports the local hospital. Here are two questions to add to your prayer before meals that will inspire your family to serve now and in the future: What am I grateful for today? Whom did I help today? —Tom McGrath

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Mother assisting daughter in washing plate in kitchen at home

Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Sort

Parents spend a lot of time sorting. We sort the laundry and the silverware, toys and coupons, junk mail and bills. We sort through which invitations and opportunities will make it onto the family calendar and which ones we’ll decline. There’s often too much to do, and it can be hard to keep sane. So how do you decide how your family will spend its precious time and energy? Jesus says, “seek ye first the kingdom of God,” which means put God’s will in the center of your life. Prudence, the virtue that helps us make decisions based on wisdom rather than impulse, can help you sort. When your family is feeling overbooked, exercise prudence by asking, “Which activities bring us closer to one another and to Christ, and which simply make us busy?” —Tom McGrath

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Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Witness

While driving on the expressway, a driver cut me off . Impulsively, I voiced my opinion of his character. Suddenly from the back seat, my two-year-old daughter repeated the nasty word I’d just spoken. I was shocked to realize
just how closely my daughter was watching me. Before I despaired over all the i y behaviors I’d exhibited in front of her, I decided to focus on the good behaviors I had modeled: praying before meals, speaking respectfully to her mother, singing enthusiastically at Mass, helping our elderly neighbor with yard work, readily forgiving others in the family, and speaking respectfully of people of other races and faiths. Every parent makes an occasional blunder in front of his or her child. But what positive values are you displaying day in and day out? —Tom McGrath

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Close up of father holding his daughter hand, so sweet,family time.

Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Open

It’s a painful day when your child comes home from school or play feeling broken-hearted and betrayed by friends. His or her natural reaction— and sometimes ours—is likely to become angry and spiteful. Your child may stop trusting because it’s easy for a heart to harden. But Jesus calls us to live openheartedly, ready to reconcile, trust, and forgive. That’s a tough lesson to master, but one that is at the very heart of being a disciple of Jesus (“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass”). We parents do our children no favors when we encourage resentment or spite. Instead, through our words and especially our example, we can invite them to the deeper satisfaction of living with hearts that are open to trust, forgiveness, and love. —Tom McGrath

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Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Close

When my daughters were little, we had a ritual every evening to put away their toys. They’d scurry around, gather up their items, and bring them to me where I knelt beside the toy box. As they’d bring each beloved plaything, I’d open the lid, and we’d each say, “Good night, block,” or “Good night, Noah’s ark,” and then they’d place that toy in the box. This ritual was a way of helping them wind down while bringing the evening to a close. Endings matter in a family—even the end of an ordinary day. They deserve a bit of care. Small endings handled well prepare our children for bigger endings, such as friends moving, getting cut from a team, or losing a loved pet or family member. Pay attention to endings, and give them their due. —Tom McGrath

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Close-up portrait of sweet newborn baby sleeping quietly in male arms. Indoor shot, concept image

Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Continue

I remember the day we brought our eldest daughter, Judy, home from the hospital. As I held my newborn
daughter, I felt tremendous peace and joy. And then she started to cry. Immediately I had two thoughts: First, shouldn’t there be someone here who knows what they’re doing? And second, I became terri ed with the realization that I was o cially on parent duty for the rest of my life. Becoming a parent changes your identity forever. You are for now and always this child’s mom or dad. This is an enormous privilege and an enormous responsibility. The trick is to “just keep showing up”—to begin each day with a prayer that I can provide what my children need and the commitment to, as best I can, do what love requires. —Tom McGrath

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Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Believe

You’re probably familiar with the phrase, “Seeing is believing.” It conveys a “doubting Thomas” brand of suspicion as in “I won’t believe it until I see the proof.” But Jesus had a different take. He tells us, “Believing is seeing!” The act of believing—that is, opening our hearts and losing our fears—can help us see that something better is possible in our present situation, no matter how dire it may seem. The very act of putting our trust and belief in the power of God opens our eyes to all sorts of possibilities, and that is certainly true in our families. With the eyes of faith, we parents can better see that God is at work in our home, helping us to be faithful, loving, generous, and, sometimes, even wise. —Tom McGrath

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Concept of teamwork: Close-Up of hands business team showing unity with putting their hands together.

Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Fairness

Two brothers live on my block—
Gerald, my next-door neighbor, and
Mike, who lives down the block. I like
to say they run a school for fairness.
As winter approaches each year, the
brothers build an ice rink in Gerald’s
yard. When the rst cold wave arrives, they get to work, and soon the rink is ready for hockey. The two brothers teach not only the rules of the game, but also rules important in life, such as it’s more fun when the teams are evenly matched; everyone who wants to play gets to play; and if you hog the puck too often, you sit in the penalty box. Children need to learn fairness, and there’s no place like home to begin those lessons—especially
if that home has an ice rink in the backyard. —Tom McGrath

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Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Commit

The new year is a time for resolutions. We can be tempted to perform a complete makeover of ourselves, but being super-ambitious usually turns out to be unwise. Rather than trying to change everything at once, it’s
best to focus on one new habit or practice that will have a big impact. Here’s how to start:
1. Pray for wisdom and prudence.
2. Select and commit to one new practice you can adopt that will improve your family’s quality of life.
3. Begin each day asking God to help you follow through.
Choose something like practicing patience, performing a secret act of kindness each day, or praying each morning or night with your children. Commit to what matters most to you. —Tom McGrath

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Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Reflect

One year closes and another begins. It’s time for New Year’s resolutions. The media is filled with suggestions
and tips to eat better, exercise more, and save more money. But here’s something else to think about— something that could have a valuable and lasting impact for generations to come. Set aside time to re ect prayerfully on your life as a parent. Ask yourself, “What one thing would I like to do to be a better parent?” What comes to mind? Don’t force it; let the idea come. It might be “listen more,”“enjoy my kids more,” or “get more rest so I can be a kinder person.”You’ll know it when it comes. Then ask God for the grace to embrace this resolution and to remove the obstacles to achieve it, one day at a time. —Tom McGrath

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Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: December Words

Family faith expert Tom McGrath, offers a generous collection of easy tips and tools to help Catholic families realize a spiritual path, and to help parents inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in their children. Writing from personal experience and drawing from the experiences of others, McGrath—a father of two grown daughters—shows fellow parents how to bring faith into everyday family life through […]

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sing

Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Sing

Family faith expert Tom McGrath, offers a generous collection of easy tips and tools to help Catholic families realize a spiritual path, and to help parents inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in their children. Writing from personal experience and drawing from the experiences of others, McGrath—a father of two grown daughters—shows fellow parents how to bring faith into everyday family life through […]

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Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Yearn

Family faith expert Tom McGrath, offers a generous collection of easy tips and tools to help Catholic families realize a spiritual path, and to help parents inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in their children. Writing from personal experience and drawing from the experiences of others, McGrath—a father of two grown daughters—shows fellow parents how to bring faith into everyday family […]

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Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Prepare

Family faith expert Tom McGrath, offers a generous collection of easy tips and tools to help Catholic families realize a spiritual path, and to help parents inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in their children. Writing from personal experience and drawing from the experiences of others, McGrath—a father of two grown daughters—shows fellow parents how to bring faith into everyday family life through […]

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let-go

Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Let Go

Family faith expert Tom McGrath, offers a generous collection of easy tips and tools to help Catholic families realize a spiritual path, and to help parents inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in their children. Writing from personal experience and drawing from the experiences of others, McGrath—a father of two grown daughters—shows fellow parents how to bring faith into everyday family life through […]

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school-bus

Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Welcome

Family faith expert Tom McGrath, offers a generous collection of easy tips and tools to help Catholic families realize a spiritual path, and to help parents inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in their children. Writing from personal experience and drawing from the experiences of others, McGrath—a father of two grown daughters—shows fellow parents how to bring faith into everyday family life through […]

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Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time: Words

Family faith expert Tom McGrath, offers a generous collection of easy tips and tools to help Catholic families realize a spiritual path, and to help parents inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in their children. Writing from personal experience and drawing from the experiences of others, McGrath—a father of two grown daughters—shows fellow parents how to bring faith into everyday family life through […]

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Strong Catholic Families: Strong Catholic Youth Family Faith Resource Booklet

Parents are charged with the responsibility of passing on the gift of faith to their children. This short resource booklet, Strong Catholic Families: Strong Catholic Youth, is full of great information and helpful tips for families to grow in faith together. You will find: An article on five key findings from the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) that are essential […]

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Prayer Card: Family Blessings and Meal Prayers

These table tent cards are a great way to encourage prayer in the home. One side offers two different meal prayers, the traditional “Bless Us O Lord” and an alternative. The other side features two blessing prayers, a general blessing of family and a special occasion blessing. Download the card here: Prayer Card

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The Domestic Church

In the Catholic tradition, the family holds a special place–especially in the formation of faith. So important, in fact, that it is called “the domestic church.” This video invites parents to reflect on being the church in the world and what that might look like within their family. Use the reflection questions at the end with a group of parents […]

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Strong Catholic Families: Strong Catholic Youth

Pastors, parish and school leaders need effective ways to engage parents in the life and mission of the church. They need help supporting parents to take ownership as the primary leaders of faith within their families. To work together toward this desirable goal, Strong Catholic Family presents a dynamic grassroots process, designed to reach out to parents in a way that empowers and challenges them to […]

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Prayers to begin a new school year

This month, many students and teachers are headed back to school. Pray these prayers from Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers on your own or with your children as they begin a new semester. Prayers to Begin a School Year God of wisdom and might, we praise you for the wonder of our being, for mind, body and spirit. Be with our children as […]

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School uniforms, like the elementary ones worn here by Denis (left) and Sophia, are available at Goodwill Niagara stores across the region. Melinda Cheevers/Metroland

Heading back to school in style, on a budget

Heading back to school can be a stressful time, not just for students but for parents as well. In addition to stocking up on binders, paper and pencils, a new school year often means a new wardrobe for kids which can take a hefty toll on a parent’s bank account. Roumi Ivanova, manager of retail operations at Goodwill Niagara said […]

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Apostolic Exhortation on the Family “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love)

The Vatican on Friday published Pope Francis’ eagerly-awaited Apostolic Exhoratation on the family, drawing together almost three years of consultations with Catholics in countries around the world. The lengthy document, entitled ‘Amoris Laetitia’, or The Joy of Love, affirms the Church’s teaching that stable families are the building blocks of a healthy society and a place where children learn to […]

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Media and Podcasts

Bishop Bergie with 610 CKTB on “The Joy of Love”

Listen to Bishop Bergie’s interview about Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on the Family “Amoris Laetitia”. Broadcast on 610 CKTB on April 8th, 2016. Link: https://soundcloud.com/larryfedorukshow/pope-francis-document-bishop-bergie-st-catharines

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Bishop Bergie with CHCH News on “The Joy of Love”

Bishop Gerard Bergie was interviewed by CHCH News about Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on the Family, “Amoris Laetitia” or “The Joy of Love”. The papal document speaks about the joy of love in family life, in marriage and also the pain that comes with it, Bishop Bergie said. On more controversial topics such as divorce and remarriage, Bishop Bergie pointed out that the pontifical […]

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Synod on the Family Mass

Pope Francis celebrates closing Mass of Synod of Bishops on Family

Sunday 25 Oct. Lines of faithful spiraled around St. Peter’s Square from early on Sunday awaiting their chance to enter St. Peter’s Basilica for the closing Mass of the Synod on the Family. The Mass, presided over by Pope Francis, marked the end of the second gathering of the Synod of Bishops to discuss “The Mission and Vocation of the […]

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Family at Synod of Bishops

EWTN To Cover Historic Synod of the Bishops on the Family

Just days after the conclusion of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States for the World Meeting of Families, the Church will open the Synod of Bishops on the Family. EWTN will provide extensive daily coverage of the proceedings from October 4-25. Coverage of the Synod begins 11:30 a.m. ET, Oct. 3 with a “Prayer Vigil in Preparation for the […]

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World Meeting of Families

A week ago today (September 27), the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia ended with a Papal Mass. When I came home, the experiences I had there were buzzing around in my head like bees. When someone asked me what I took away from the event I had no idea how to start my answer. Today, I am beginning to […]

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World Youth Day Pilgrimage 2016 to Krakow

The Diocese of St. Catharines invites you to join us for our pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2016! World Youth Day is the largest gathering of young adult Catholics in the world and only happens every two or three years. In 2016, World Youth Day will take place in Kraków, Poland. This pilgrimage will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we […]

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The World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015

Pope Francis is coming to Philadelphia this summer! Come and join more than 150 countries and 1 million pilgrims at the world’s largest Catholic gathering of families from Tuesday, Sept. 22nd to Sunday, Sept. 27th. Since its inception by Saint John Paul II in 1994, this huge event has been previously held in Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Milan, Manila, Valencia […]

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