BUNDU TUHAN – For the first time, the Archdiocesan Commission of Family Life organised a consultation with all Parish Family Life Committees (PFLCs) in the archdiocese on 7-9 July 2017 at Bundu Tuhan Retreat Centre. They were joined by the Keningau and Sandakan PFLCs.
The consultation was held with three objectives: 1) To identify and update the role and function of Family Life Commission and parish Family Life Committee; 2) To update and standardise contents and implementation methods of the Pre-Marriage Course; and 3) To respond to the call of Amoris Laetitia by Pope Francis.
It was attended by 132 delegates.
At the Apr 23-26 Episcopal Regional Commission for Family Life meeting in Majodi Centre, Johor Bahru, Pauline Pinso, from the KK Commission said, the challenges identified that are affecting Christian family life are secularisation, Islamisation, including converting to other denominations, and an increasing number of divorces in marriages less than seven years old.
Main facilitator Father Charles Chiew of Keningau diocese said that the focus of the consultation in achieving the three objectives would contribute to the realisation of a proper service structure for family life.
Based on the methodology ‘Experience-Reflection-Action,’ the committee members discussed their role and function based on their current activities. From the discussions, they discovered that the function of the PFLC is geared more towards implementing pre-marriage courses.
In line with the archdiocesan service to families, with emphasis on the pastoral approach as a way to solve issues affecting families, the committee members suggested a number of additional activities to broaden their role and function, servicing not only couples who are getting married, but also offering pastoral care for single mothers, young families, senior citizens, divorced couples, and troubled families.
On the Pre-Marriage Course, the consultation revealed that although all parishes are referring to the same Pre-Nuptial Course book, there are differences in terms of contents and methods of implementation in each parish.
The cause for these differences is pinned down to a lack of specific objectives in each topic (10 topics) of the course, which opens to a variety of interpretation, and ultimately leading to diverse decisions by the committees, including the parish priests.
In response to the finding, the commission would process the combined reports to provide the objectives for each pre-nuptial topic, as well as to improve its contents and methods of implementation. There is also a suggestion to standardise the course to enable it to be used in all three arch/dioceses.
Responding to the question by the committee members about the time frame for the whole process, Sister Suzan Guntabid fsic, head of KK Family Life Commission asked for a lead time of a year or more as she acknowledged that the process would require a longer time frame.
“After taking into consideration your opinions and inputs, the commission will combine the reports. We will sit again to fine-tune the documents, and for this, we propose that all heads of Family Life Committees sit down with us. After that, the commission will make recommendations to the archbishop,” said Sr Suzan.
Sr Suzan also said that this will not be the last consultation, but that communication will be continued. All PLFCs can still voice their opinions and suggestions through the WhatsApp application fronted by the Commission. – Linda Edward