Recently I sent a letter to the pastors of the Archdiocese to introduce myself as the new director of the Office for Black Catholics. In that message I talked about the focus the office will have under my direction. One area of focus is on family life.
Social data reveals that African American families are particularly in crisis, having the lowest marriage rate compared to all measured groups, while also having the highest divorce rate. It is well documented that children who are nurtured in a family headed by the healthy marriage of their biological parents fair better educationally, socially, and economically. They are much less likely to get caught in the traps of the penal system, street gangs, and irresponsible sexual behavior. Therefore the family lens through which we see our families and serve them is a necessary portal for the mission of the Church in the Black communities.
The family is where we learn how to give and receive love. It is where we first encounter God. All families are holy and worthy. Reserving relationship skills education to only those who are married or engaged suggests that those families formed without the benefit of marriage aren’t worthy of programs and services to strengthen their bonds of love. I iterate: all families are holy and worthy. Even when they are a “holy mess,” all families are holy and worthy.
So, the family lens we use will help us evaluate all that we do with respect to how it sustains family life. While I have some thoughts on how this might be done in some areas of the Church’s outreach, I want to explore this with the good people doing the mission in the trenches.
Question: What would be different about your area of ministry if you measured outcomes by how it affects families?
Office for Black Catholics - www.blackcatholicchicago.org
Arusi Network, Inc. - www.arusi.org