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The Office of Family Life has during the last six weeks conducted a broad consultation in the Diocese of Lake Charles among faithful and clergy in preparation for the upcoming XIV Ordinary Synod of Bishops, with the theme, “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World".

According to Rickard Newman, director of the Office of Family Life, said, "The response was very positive, in both quantitative and qualitative terms, and the Office of Family Life wants to thank all who have participated."

Here are some highlights of the summary of the consultation:

In relation to the cultural and legislative changes affecting marriage and family today, there is urgency for pastoral intervention. The Church in her role as a teacher needs to be consistent and coherent and have a unified message. The reported lack of consistency in the teachings on behalf of the clergy is a reported source of frustration. Incoherence on for example bio-ethical topics and annulments creates confusion and risk hurting rather than helping people.

In response to pastoral challenges there ought to be a greater anthropological consideration. The breakdown of family, little to no interior life and materialism has seriously imperiled many. There is a need for a better understanding on gender complementary, helping to show man who he is, where his dignity lies and how to discover joy through the vocation of marriage.

Since future evangelization depends largely on the Christian family it has been a joy to see the fruits of the Domestic Church movement. It incorporates essential elements necessary to keep the Gospel of the Family alive; prayer, scripture reading, active and involved clergy, Theology of the Body and community support. “Domestic Church” is proving itself to be effective in witnessing to the joy of Faith bringing families to a greater love of Christ. 

The consultation also brought attention to the importance of strengthening the catechetical formation in all three stages of marriage preparation (remote, proximate and immediate). Natural Family Planning is one of the most significant steps that have been taken to effectively promote the beauty and blessing of welcoming children. The consultation brought attention to the importance of NFP as a required part of marriage preparation.

Finally, we must continue to keep marriage and family in our prayers as a community. Let's remember our engaged and newly married couples, those who are struggling in their marriages, children of divorce and legislators and judges so that they may enact laws to support marriage and family.

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