Volunteers and employees from four dioceses will be awarded Master’s degrees in Family Ministry and Faith Formation on Saturday 8 October in a ceremony at Archbishop’s House, Southwark. They have been studying as part of the Celebrating Family diocesan projects investment by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
Philip Butcher (Brentwood diocese), Breda Theakston (Leeds diocese), Jillian Wilce (Plymouth diocese) and Pauline Stanway (Wrexham diocese), have been studying online at Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois, since 2008. The students also flew out twice to Chicago for classes and attended a summer school at Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology in Cambridge.
Bishop John Hine, Chair of the Bishops’ Committee for Marriage and Family Life, will present the degrees and award three Certificates in Leadership for Family Ministry and Faith Formation to Des Robertson (Archdiocese of Cardiff), Helen Bassirat (Shrewsbury diocese) and Lisette Blanchet Ball (Archdiocese of Southwark). Course leaders from Chicago will take part by video-link.
Elizabeth Davies, Marriage & Family life Project Officer, at the Bishops’ Conference said, “This graduation ceremony represents a watershed in the development of family ministry in England and Wales as well as in the lives of these seven individuals and their families. The group have all made great sacrifices to complete their studies, alongside work and family commitments. We now have a team of pastoral workers in family ministry with academic as well as practical experience. As family ministry becomes ever more complex, this new team are a significant asset for their co-workers and colleagues across the Church in England and Wales.”
Pauline Stanway, of the Marriage and Family Life Commission in Wrexham, spoke about her experience, “The key learning for me and a message that needs to be spread is that Family Ministry and lay spirituality is not in opposition to celibate spirituality. It can be thought of as a counter movement reminding us of important aspects that have been lost. Indeed family spirituality possesses the same important elements as the Church community but these elements are expressed in a different, ordinary family way. As the domestic church families are the foundations on which the wider church is built. Family ministry involves supporting families to look with ‘eyes of faith’ to realise and affirm the opportunities they have, to reveal God’s spirit of love daily amongst the ordinary and chaotic experiences of family life. Sacramental moments are enacted in ordinary family ways when families share meals, conversations, serve each other and others, forgive and reconcile with one another.”
Des Robertson and Lisette Blanchet Ball are completing extra courses at Heythrop College in pursuit of an MA in Pastoral Studies. Des has had his book “A Community of Disciples – learning and working to live and share a life in Christ” accepted for publication by Twenty Third Publications in Autumn 2012.
Study programme in Leadership for Family Ministry and Faith Formation
Celebrating Family: Blessed, Broken, Living Love
Marriage & Family Life Project Officer at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference