Resilience of African American Families Defies Sterotypes
Even as the concept of family has changed in the African American community, the morals, principles and fiber of the family still exist and are as strong now as they have ever been. Changes in the composition of the African American family over the last several decades have resulted in declines in married couples, a growth in female heads of households and fewer black children raised by two parents, according to Bureau of Census data. During Black History Month, the 16th Annual National Day of Prayer for the African American Family presents an opportunity to honor families, support and encourage others and let the rest of the world know that, despite these trends, African Americans hold steady jobs, their children often attend college and not every young person is a "baby mama" or "baby daddy." On February 6, African American Catholics around the country will join in the day of prayer. "Family prayer centered on the Eucharist makes it possible for us to face each day with renewed confidence and spiritual vitality," says Beverly A. Carroll, executive director of the U.S. Bishop's Secretariat for African American Catholics. This year's theme, "Jesus, Our Bread of Life, Hallelujah," is in keeping with the "Year of the Eucharist" declared for 2005 by Pope John Paul II. A resource aid which includes catechetical reflections, suggestions for celebrating the day and a special Mass intention for solidarity with Africa is available from the Secretariat for African American Catholics.
For more information, contact Beverly A. Carroll at (202) 541-3177 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Church Leads the Way in Preparation for Lifelong Marriage
The vast majority of individuals who have participated in marriage preparation programs view the experience as valuable early in their marriage. With its longstanding emphasis on marriage preparation, 81 percent of couples married in the Catholic Church receive marriage preparation, leading other denominations to look to Catholics as the model to emulate. On February 13, local communities and faith congregations around the country will celebrate World Marriage Day. The event, sponsored by Worldwide Marriage Encounter, always takes place on the Sunday closest to Valentine's Day and has as its permanent theme, "Love One Another." World Marriage Day gives local and faith communities the opportunity to honor the lifelong commitment of husband and wife. Some communities celebrate by recognizing the longest married couple in the congregation or community. In many congregations, couples renew their wedding vows. Clergy are encouraged to preach about marriage as the foundation of a strong society. "The U.S. bishops have pointed out that 'an enduring marriage is more than simply endurance,'" says Sheila Garcia, associate director of the U.S. Bishop's Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth. "World Marriage Day gives parishes the chance to recognize the hard work and self-sacrificing love that couples put into their marriages." The USCCB has prepared a package of materials in support of lifelong marriage. Support for Marriage: All Along the Way is available at http://www.usccb.org/laity/marriage/supportformarriage.htm.
For more information, contact Sheila Garcia at (202) 541-3041 or email@example.com.
New Scholarship Program Supports Families in Fast Growing Ministry
In support of one of the fastest growing of all church vocations, the diaconate, the University of Dayton (Ohio) is offering $4,000 undergraduate scholarships to help educate the children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews of permanent deacons – up to $20,000 over five years. The Second Vatican Council restored the ministry of deacon as a permanent order within the sacrament of holy orders. Since 2002, the number of permanent deacons has risen from 13,764 to 14,693 – more than six percent. "The Council wanted to emphasize that the Church herself is diaconal, pouring herself out in service of others," says Deacon William T. Diteweg, Executive Director of the U.S. Bishops' Secretariat for the Diaconate. "Well over 90 percent of the more than 30,000 permanent deacons around the world are also married men with families. This fact makes the generous action of the University of Dayton so significant: it recognizes the sacrifices that the families of deacons make in support of the deacon's ministry." While many Catholics are aware of deacons, most have very little idea that deacons are ordained members of the clergy or that permanent deacons are responsible for providing their own livelihood. Additional information can be found in the newly published National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States.
For more information, contact Deacon William T. Ditewig at (202) 541-3038 or firstname.lastname@example.org.