Family Group Movement

I can't praise the idea of Family Groups enough and would encourage anyone who has the chance to start their own group to do so. It’s a lot of reward for very little effort.

Fiona, Whitefield Family Groups

Family Groups are parish friendship groups drawn from the Catholic community open to any parishioner irrespective of age or personal circumstances. Family Groups are made up of young, mature, single, widowed, married, separated and divorced parishioners who commit to spending time together once a month for low cost activities. The groups are linked by a common faith bond but are not exclusive to Catholics. Many group members bring along their non-Catholic partners who are integral to the group’s success. There are a few basic rules to help guide groups: enthusiastic leaders; the support of the parish priest; low cost gatherings and a commitment to know, support and love each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

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The friendship, support, the wonderful feeling of togetherness and fellowship that we have experienced in Family Groups have been absolutely instrumental in keeping our faith on track.

Tracey & Stephen, Caerphilly Family Groups

The concept of Family Groups is simple. Groups meet every four to six weeks for a variety of activities decided by their members. These include quizzes, film nights, games, parties and anniversary celebrations, walks, music, themed events, fundraising, house Masses and lots of shared meals. The groups can become a valuable source of parish outreach as well as offering invaluable support and fellowship to their own members. The groups need the commitment and encouragement of their parish priest to thrive but are run by volunteer group leaders and parish coordinators.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF FAMILY GROUPS IN ENGLAND & WALES

A National Steering Group for the Family Group Movement (England & Wales) was established in October 2014. The Steering Group is made up of leaders from eight Family Group parishes, regional diocesan family ministry coordinators and a chaplain, all of whom are passionate about building parish community. The Steering Group is committed to supporting and accompanying parishes interested in developing Family Groups and its members have three principal objectives for their work together:

  • To offer a reservoir of energy, experience and support for the development of new Family Groups
  • To support and affirm Family Groups and their leaders
  • To provide the means of communication between Family Group parishes

A WORD FROM FAMILY GROUPS' PATRON

'The Family Group Movement seeks to create a true sense of community in fulfilment of Jesus Christ’s command for love, friendship, and companionship in the lives of his disciples, and as experienced by the early Christian communities. Now establishing firm foundations in England and Wales, parish Family Groups are notable for their simplicity, their inclusiveness and their rootedness in ordinary life.
Family Groups offer our Catholic communities the chance to become more family-sensitive, friendly and welcoming, in line with the objectives of the Bishops’ collaborative pastoral initiative: Everybody’s Welcome. At their best, Family Groups offer understanding, friendship and support to all, encourage and celebrate family life in its myriad forms, and help everyone in the parish feel that they belong. I am delighted to be the patron of the Family Group Movement (England & Wales), and to endorse this initiative.'

Bishop Peter Doyle

GETTING STARTED WITH FAMILY GROUPS

For further information about developing Family Groups in your parish please download the free Family Group Movement Parish Tool kit and Family Group Movement Parish Promotional Materials pack from the Resources Section on this page. These packs contain everything you need to get started. Support is also available to you from the Steering Group. Please email your completed Initial Parish Expression of Interest Form to: familygroupsenglandandwales@gmail.com. A member of the Steering Group will contact you directly.

BACKGROUND

In 2007 the Marriage & Family Life Project Office invited Fr Peter McGrath, the Australian founder of the Passionist Family Group Movement (PFGM) to help launch Family Groups in England and Wales. The movement was identified during the Listening 2004 consultation as a valuable resource for developing parish community life. Three parishes volunteered to host Fr Peter, two of whom went on to successfully pilot Family Groups. The Family Groups in these parishes continue to thrive. In 2011-2012 Fr Peter returned to the UK to help launch Family Group pilots in a number of other parishes.

FAMILY GROUPS BLOG

The Family Group parishes are spread across England and Wales and its members use their dedicated blog to share news and ideas, keeping them in touch with each other and up-to-date with events locally and further afield.