On Thursday morning the English and Welsh delegates took time to note some reflections on the experience so far of the Theological-Pastoral Congress.
Hannah: I went to hear Rev Terrence D Griffith speak about “In the city: concerns of the urban family.” This was an engaging talk focusing on the disproportionate impact of overcrowding, stress, economic hardship, crime, comparative educational, health and life disadvantages on urban families. Griffith argued that family prayer and the responsibility to actively participate in faith communities is the key to renewing the lost influence of the home-school-parish trinity on society.
Joanne: This is first event of this type I’ve ever been to – the number of nationalities and the varied age groups are quite staggering. The number of families with very young children is wonderful and brave. The breakout sessions I’ve been to so far have been focused on the family as domestic church and parents as primary educators. Themes and ideas overlap across the sessions. I’ve had a sense that this all affirms what we are doing in our work in England and Wales, but that the USA is only just starting to promote these ideas.
Katherine: Helen Alvaré’s key note speech was delivered in an easily accessible style. She spoke with passion about the joy of motherhood and the satisfaction she finds in this role coupled with her professional one. The strength of the family and the precious gift it can be to all society has been recognised by all the speakers so far.
Breda: The Atkinson family presentation on the Spirituality of Parenting began with dad explaining the theology of creation and family. It moved on to mum who said ‘he does the theory I do the living of it’. She gave us a small dose of some of the reality of the difficulties of family life ‘when I was heart sick and with a distant husband…everyday events became momentous because now I am shaping a human soul’. It finished with their daughter, toddler in tow, who talked of the basic confidence her parents’ solid marriage had given her, to worry about her own ‘stuff’ and not be bothered with theirs. In answer to a question about managing children’s choices she went directly to the heart of the matter: your relationship with your children has to be primary. When they come to you with a question don’t answer with doctrine…find out where they are and what’s happening for them. Trust your children. If you love them you are already being the best you can.