Regional Assemblies to focus on MERCY IN MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE

Archbishop Christopher Prowse has written the following pastoral message to Catholics in the Archdiocese… 

TO MY dear people of God in the Archdiocese.

You may recall last year in March so many of us gathered for our Archdiocesan Assembly in Canberra. Over 700 participants, and many more via live stream, listened to the ‘Embrace’ speakers with respect and joy. The day centred on marriage and family life. It was a wonderful gathering of the Archdiocesan family. Hopefully, we all returned to our communities with a deepened sense of Gospel energy in this area that concerns us all.

This topic of marriage and family life continues to focus our attention. The recent two world Synods in Rome were on this topic. Continued national discussion on changing the Marriage Act of 1961 causes so many of us great concern.

Virtually every family we meet speaks of great challenges in their family life in our increasingly stressful world. Deeper issues concern the basic fundamental human rights for the freedom of speech and religion.

One of the main suggestions arising from our 2015 Archdiocesan Assembly was the need to discuss these matters further. The idea was to give testimony to the importance of marriage and family life in the Archdiocese and to discuss in the various regions arising challenges. We want to encourage each family further and draw us all closer to our essential Catholic anchorage in Jesus, the source of all love and mercy.

Members of Couples for Christ during the March 21 Archdiocesan Assembly, which focused on the topic ‘Embrace: The Joy of the Gospel in Marriage and Family Life’. PHOTO: LOUI SESELJA

Members of Couples for Christ during the 2015 Archdiocesan Assembly, which focused on the topic ‘Embrace: The Joy of the Gospel in Marriage and Family Life’. PHOTO: LOUI SESELJA

This need is further deepened due to the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy that we have now begun with the entire Catholic Church. We cannot envisage marriage and family life without the ‘soul’ of mercy and loving kindness animating all we do on the practical level.

Listening carefully to all that has taken place since March 2015 and discussing the matter with my priests, I have decided that Regional Deanery Assemblies will take place on this topic in 2016.

The foundations for conducting these Deanery Assemblies would include the following:

• The topic for the Assemblies will be ‘Mercy in Marriage and Family Life’;

• The invitation will be for people to gather in their Deaneries for a period of listening;

• Encouraging each other in the area of mercifully supporting marriage and family life.

Emphasis will be given to:

• Revisiting the major insights of our March 2015 Archdiocesan Assembly;

• Listening carefully to the local testimonies of marriage and family life;

• Discussing practical strategies to assist the strengthening of family life in our local deaneries;

• Offering practical suggestions to the Archdiocese in supporting families today.

Specific dates for these gatherings in your Deaneries during 2016 have already been secured. These dates are:

Monaro Deanery: April 16

Northern Deanery: April 30

Coastal Deanery: June 3-4

Central Deanery: August 12-13

Western Deanery: October 14

The services of our Archdiocesan Office of Evangelisation will be available for your assistance and advice. My hope, however, is that the Deaneries themselves will construct a day of reflection that suits the particular needs of your local area.

I hope to attend personally each gathering. With you, I wish to listen carefully and accompany you as the joys and challenges of marriage and family life are shared on a local level. I want to see how the entire Archdiocese can support families in the years ahead. It is a pastoral exercise in co-responsibility.

Let us consecrate these gatherings even now to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. May the love and mercy of the Holy Family of Nazareth lead us forward!

May I conclude by offering you all this simple prayer for families as we begin this new pastoral initiative. Be assured of my encouragement and prayers for you.


Loving and merciful God,

We thank you for the gift of marriage and family life.

We ask your blessing on all families today and always.

Be with us in our daily life together.

Be our guide in times of challenge.

Be our strength in times of difficulty.

Be our joy in times of delight.

Be our mercy and forgiveness always.

Help our families to grow stronger in your love and show us how to love one another

as you have loved us.

May we welcome Jesus as the unseen guest in our home.

May we be his voice and hands,

Respecting and caring for those we meet.

May we look to the example of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

As we strive to be the best family that we can be.

Most Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for us. Amen.

Archbishop Christopher Prowse 

Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn