Listening 2004

We in our church need to open our hearts to hear each other deeply rather than just give answers

Ten years ago a series of ground breaking diocesan conversations took place between the Catholic Church and 15,000 families in England & Wales. Listening 2004: My Family, My Church gave Catholic families the chance to talk openly to the clergy about what life was really like for them in the 21st Century: their hopes, their fears, their sorrows and their joys. The Church's official year of listening acted as a catalyst for a new period of collaboration between the Bishops in their programmes of pastoral care for marriage and family life.
Our 10th anniversary film takes a look at the genesis, impact and legacy of Listening 2004 with some of the people who helped to coordinate the project at national and diocesan level.



Not Easy But Full of Meaning

In 2005 a report was published by the Bishops' Conference entitled "Not Easy But Full of Meaning" Catholic Family Life in 2004. The report not only summarized the findings of Listening 2004 but also endorsed national project work from 2005-2008 on the three priorities that emerged:

  • The need for welcoming, family sensitive, friendly parishes where Christian community thrives and sustains the lives of those at its heart and on the margins
  • A need to deepen and share among laity and clergy alike a wider understanding of marital and family spirituality
  • A need to explore and better understand what we mean by passing on faith in God, the primary role of parents, and to equip them accordingly
These priorities became better known as Everybody’s Welcome, Home is A Holy Place, and Passing on the Faith.

In all the dilemmas that face both families and the church, perhaps the church can learn something from families

The Impact of Listening 2004

Over the past ten years the Bishops have developed a range of pastoral initiatives and resources to support, affirm and strengthen marriage and family life. They have also invested in leadership for family ministry and funded 13 dioceses to develop capacity building family ministry projects. Over 12,000 people benefited from these projects through increased parenting and marriage preparation programmes, bereavement support, listening training, celebrations of marriage, healing masses and workshops.

The Legacy of Listening 2004

The issues, concerns, and joys expressed by Catholic families in 2004 enabled the Bishops to better understand the pastoral needs of today’s marriages and family homes and continues to inform their ministry today. The success of the Celebrating Family Project has now made it possible for the Bishops to fund further capacity building projects from 2014 onwards. The first five projects will run in the dioceses of Arundel & Brighton, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Westminster and Wrexham. Grants will support the development of diocesan natural fertility planning advice and clinical services, Parish Family Groups and Catholic Grandparents' Groups, extend the provision of parenting support and increase the marriage awareness of young adults in Catholic high schools and sixth forms.
With grateful thanks to Susan Sullivan and Ryan Langton from the University of Notre Dame who interned at the Marriage and Family Life Project Office in spring 2013/14 and archived, researched and prepared much of the material for this retrospective.