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Families: Alive in Our Church! – Church of the Holy Spirit

Post Series: Family Life Groups

Families need communities to thrive.  Couples need to build their marital relationship in an intentional and regular way.  Parents need to be coached and encouraged as they love, guide and build their children.  The church communities have to support the families.  To equip our families, otherwise referred to as the “domestic church”, many parishes have set up Family Life Ministries (“FLM”) or some call them Family Life Groups.

An FLM share their story on how they have helped build up the families in their parish to be happier and holier.

Belonging to the Family Life Ministry has been Life-changing!

The Church of the Holy Spirit’s FLM is unique in that they are structured both as a ministry and also as a community. As a 12 year old ministry, the FLM reaches out to the parishioners through events and talks, and at the same time, they support and help build each other by praying and sharing their faith.

Mark Lim, one of the FLM’s founding members and current service member shares that FLM was the brainchild of Fr Andrew Wong who had the vision for families to come together to give each other support. Mark recalls times where Fr Andrew would just call anyone from the service team and pass them an unknown contact number and asking them to reach out and journey with the family.

Many others have been supported, grown and even been converted from the community and activities.  We share the stories of two families:

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Lim Kar Seng was first introduced to FLM when his wife signed them up for the inaugural Family camp in 2009. “At that time I was not a Catholic although my wife and children were. Truth be told, I was not keen on the camp and had reservations about the Catholicism and the rigidness stemming from its hierarchical organisation. Nonetheless, I went along reluctantly,” shares Kar Seng.

While his children enjoyed themselves at the camp, he felt really uncomfortable.  “I felt some of the families we met were ‘too good to be true’. My wife and I were having marital issues at that time and I didn’t feel like I belonged. But God works in His ways and little did I know that He was answering my call for help that I wasn’t fully aware of or had chosen to suppress”.

After his baptism in 2012, Kar Seng and his family continued to attend the fortnightly FLM meetings. Through the sharings of his fellow members, he realised that other Catholics faced the same problems that he did in marriage and family life.

“Issues from in-laws to financials to proper child raising were voiced by these very people who had earlier seemed strife-free and nearly too holy! They became more real and honest to me.  This made me more comfortable with the FLM community and I slowly opened up,” he shared.

Soon after baptism, he was called by God to serve in the community that he was initially skeptical about. “I felt the calling to give back to this ministry that was a constant companion in my conversion. Through my service, I learnt discernment, prayer and humility. Looking back, I realised that His election of me to service formed me in those areas and prevented me from rushing into theological studies, an aspect which I was always keen on,” said Kar Seng.

Another example of the power of God working through the community is the story of Josephine James and her late husband, Peter.

Peter and Josephine started FLM at Church of the Holy Spirit. Instead of giving to the community, , they actually receive greatly from the community.

One year after starting the FLM, Peter was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. “Through the period of shock and grief, the FLM members were truly family for our family,” said Josephine. The group of nine families, including their children, supported the family in prayer, packed meals and were there in full force to support Peter and his family.

“Their love and support for us was unconditional, unceasing and selfless! How blessed I was to taste the love of the Christian community. It was exactly the love and community-spirit described in the Acts of the Apostles that my family and I experienced”.

Through the years, the Holy Spirit has blessed the FLM to be a life support to every member in every sense of the word. “We pray together, sit together in church, run church events, support each other in times of crisis and celebrate birthdays and anniversaries,” said Josephine.

Helping Families Thrive in the Church

The Church is a Family of Families. To help each family thrive in today’s society, the need to form communities of families is greater than ever before.

Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia said “There is also the contribution made by groups of married couples that provide assistance as part of their commitment to service, prayer, formation and mutual support. Such groups enable couples to be generous, to assist other families and to share the faith; at the same time they strengthen marriages and help them to grow. (Amoris Laetitia, 229)

The Parish Engagement Team (PET) is a sub-committee under the Archdiocesan Commission for the Family (ACF) that can help to accompany parishes to set up a Family Life Ministry from its conception, to its growth into a life-giving ministry.

To find out more about FLMs, get in touch with the PET coordinators, Alphonsus and Cyrine Gregory by email: admin@acf.org.sg or call 64880278. You may also refer to our websites: catholicfamily.org.sg and familylife.sg for upcoming marriage and family-related events.

Archdiocesan Commission for the Family

Archdiocesan Commission for the Family