DECEMBER 2016 edition of The Domestic Church publication
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Taking Family, Marriage and Parenting Seriously and Faithfully

Thursday, December 8

The Immaculate Conception, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, was the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne. Mary was conceived naturally but God kept her soul immaculate, i.e. free from original sin. The official confirmation of the dogma was defined in 1854 by Pope Pius IX, although the belief that Mary was sinless and conceived free from sin is very old.

The Feast of Immaculate Conception is celebrated in Catholic Church on December 8. In many countries it is a holy day of obligation, among others, in the United States, Argentina, Austria, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Immaculate Conception is sometimes confused with the conception of Jesus Christ in Mary's womb, while it refers to Mary herself.

Step-families at Christmas
Here are some tips for healthy step-families:
  1. THE PRIMARY RELATIONSHIP IN A MARRIAGE IS THE COUPLE. Stress of step-parenting is one of the main reasons of divorce in remarriages, therefore it is important to keep the relationship alive. You need “couple-time,” so make an effort to nurture your marriage and plan ahead to manage your time properly. Go on regular dates (with each other) and keep the romance in your relationship.
  2. FOSTER RESPECT- Show the same respect for your step-children as you expect from them, be mature and also show respect for the ex-spouses. The influence of the other biological parent has to be acknowledged as affecting the lives of everybody involved, especially the children. Unfortunately, it may not always be a positive influence and this added person in your lives could place extra stress on your marriage. This can have harmful and debilitating effects on your relationship, so it is better to be at peace with the past. Avoid all violent or offensive language and keep a respectful attitude at all times, maintaining open communication with the ex-spouses for the sake of the children and your marriage.
  1. FOSTER UNITY -Consider the step-children as “ours”, not yours or mine. Be aware of your over-protectiveness as a biological parent. Consider any children living apart from the new household as being as much a part of the step-family as those living within and create opportunities to spend quality time together. Family-fun activities will provide the basis for a strong family foundation.
  2. FOSTER INDIVIDUALITY-Appreciate the uniqueness of each child in the step-family. Provide a reasonable territorial as well as emotional space for each family member. Be mindful of the different personalities and value systems which are being combined into your step-family situation and do not force anything. Good will and trust are earned with time, patience and love.
  3. KNOW THE TERRITORY- Address any financial issues before the marriage to a mutually acceptable term and continue to negotiate with each other as needed. Respect any previous commitments like alimony or child support and most of all, work as a team, confronting the issues at hand instead of confronting each other.
  4. FOSTER FLEXIBILITY. Remain open-minded and be willing to try various alternatives. There is more than one way of dealing with issues, so try to see things from a different perspective. Invite the children to be part of the solution and to share their own ideas on how to handle a given situation. Keep in mind that as humans, we all make mistakes; try to be understanding and sympathetic.
  5. FOSTER PATIENCE- Love grows slowly, and it doesn't seem to matter if the step-child is 2 or 22 years old. Take the initiative in building communication and consider spending fun-time alone with the step-children or bringing little gifts from time to time to show good will. Many new step-parents are anxious to bond immediately with the step-children but it takes time for real trust and love to develop and grow.
  6. LISTEN FULLY- In the morning we talked about the importance of listening in order to foster effective communication. Step-children may still be angry with their parents for getting a divorce or angry at the circumstances if one of the parents died. Their anger could spill over to you just because you're there making listening a real challenge. Listen carefully and think twice before you speak, avoiding any immediate reactions that could hinder your relationship with the children. Listening is a skill that is developed with practice, serenity and tolerance.
  7. KEEP A SENSE OF HUMOR- The old adage says that laughter is the best medicine; and so it is. Laughter teaches children to have joy in their life and to take things in perspective, so they can learn from their mistakes. All families are faced with challenges, and step-families are not the exception, but laughter and a good sense of humor can help in dealing with difficulties. Make sure joy finds a place in your new home.
  8. BE A PARENT – Act as a parent and avoid taking the “I want to be your pal” attitude with your step-children. Start by discussing your parenting style with your spouse and observe and value what he/she has been accomplishing as a single parent. Responsible parenthood reflects how we integrate God's plan into the lives of the family. As Catholics, we are called to be the first evangelizers of our children. Teaching our children about matters of faith will help us to raise sons and daughters that have a good morality, a respect for God and for others and it will also foster love and strong family values.
The term “Blended Family” does not necessarily have to have a negative connotation. Many blended families have been able to resolve their issues and live a happy and healthy family life, where communication is appreciated and every member of the family is a contributing member to the well-being of the household. Not everything has to blend in a blended family; individuality should be preserved and children, especially adult or older children should maintain their independence. The love of God and the love of the couple should be the starting point for everything; it should be the source of all family interactions. If the couple is able to transmit that love to the children, most of the battles would already be won!
Resource: Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn 
The Pastoral Response in Accompanying Families in Faith
The Strong Catholic Families National Partnership Invites ministry leaders, teachers, school leaders, parents and clergy to join together with others around the globe in a webinar series focusing on the pastoral implementation of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia. Four Master Teachers will present video reflections on the following themes, followed by two sets of live panels reacting to the content and discussing practical applications to various ministries.

Assisting Families in Discerning God’s Movement  - on December 7, 2016
Engaging for Mission - on January 8 and January 25, 2017

Register at or e-mail
The 3 that count
The three theological virtues are those that enable us to relate directly to God. The moral virtues help us to properly use and execute control of our faculties in relation to those things that can serve as a means to personal holiness and eternal life. In other words, by faith we believe in God and accept all that he has revealed; by hope we trust God to be faithful to his promises as we correspond to his grace; by charity we love God as our perfect good and ultimate end.

"As love grows within you, so beauty grows.  For love is the beauty of the soul."

St. Augustine

"Prayer to the Holy Family”
 Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
 the splendor of true love;
to you we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
 may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel and
 small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized

find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
make us once more mindful

of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer
as we prepare in joyful hope
for the coming of the Lord!
Marriage Enrichment Series continues...
The Discovering Our Deepest Desire Program consists of a series of evenings of interaction, prayer, reflection, and activities designed to support couples in renewing their understanding of what it means to have a Sacramental Marriage and to rediscover the one they fell in love with.

For more information about the DODD marriage enrichment program and how to begin in your parish, call Socorro at 269-903-0199 or visit:
Calling all Students in grades 4th - 12th!!! PRIZES are waiting...
We need your entries first... See below:
"The Evangelizing Family"
Find out how to participate at the website here:
There still is time to participate and for a chance to win one of many great prizes!!!

CDM is the ministry of the North American Conference of Separated and Divorced Catholics, Inc., a nonprofit corporation. CDM provides parishes with literature and training.

To obtain more information: visit the CDM/NACSDC web site at; send email to; call the CDM/NACSDC Central Office at 855-727-2269; or write to CDM, P.O. Box 10, Hancock, MI 49930.

Are you a widower? Widowed Men's Fellowship
Please join us on December 14th for a Christmas Celebration with the Widowed Friends Group
TIME: 4 to 5:30 pm
LOCATION: Diocesan Pastoral Center
215 N. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo

Questions? Please call Fr. Don Klingler at 269-254-8138 or Socorro at 269-903-0199

The Domestic Church Newsletter SPANISH edition is now available! A wonderful resource for Spanish-speaking (reading) families. To subscribe please contact Socorro at 269-903-0199 or via e-mail

Joy Filled Marriage Weekends for the Engaged 2016 & 2017
 Joy-Filled Marriage - A marriage preparation weekend for engaged couples. The Joy-Filled Marriage is a comprehensive marriage preparation program rooted in virtues as well as the Theology of the Body. The program incorporates rich Catholic theology with sound psychology.
2017 Joy-Filled Marriage Weekend Dates 2017:

January 21-22

March 25-26
May 20-21

PLEASE REGISTER EARLY in order to guarantee your place!

LOCATION: Transformations Retreat Center at 3427 Gull Road
Kalamazoo, MI 49048 (directions). To register for a weekend, please visit our website here: or contact Socorro at: via phone at: 269-903-0199
JFM and married couples
Are you married and living a joy-filled marriage? Would you like to learn about the JFM way to marital holiness? Do you know what JFM is all about? If you answered yes or no to any of these questions and would like more information, please contact Socorro at 269-903-0199 or via email at 
"Widowed Friends" Support Group
for men and women who have lost a spouse...

"Widowed Friends" Support Group for Men and Women 
widowed men and women - are invited to gather on the 4th Wednesday of each month, continuing in 2017:
Please join us on Wednesday, December 14th for a Christmas Celebration with widowed men and women...
TIME: 4 - 5:30 PM
LOCATION: DPC (same location)
PLEASE bring a dish or treat to share

Questions? Fr. Don Klingler at 269-254-8138 or Socorro at 269-903-0199

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