CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 10 November 2018

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Prioritising care for marginalised families

HONG KONG (SE): The Hong Kong Catholic Marriage Advisory Council held its annual general meeting on November 13 at which it restated its commitment to strengthening the connection between marriage and family, as well as introducing new initiatives to support marginalised families.

At the meeting held at the Caritas Restaurant in Caine Road, the president of the council, John Cardinal Tong Hon, encouraged the promotion of healthy marriages and family life, saying that the council has an especially important role at this time when traditional values are being challenged.

Cardinal Tong said the Church is deeply concerned about marriage and family welfare, which was the focus of the synod of bishops in October.

The cardinal also cited his pastoral letter, Human Ecology and The Family: Strengthen Marriage; Not Redefine it! published at the end of September, saying that marriage is more than a label, as love is not enough to turn something which is not a marriage into one.

He encouraged the council to study the theology of the body and become more familiar with Church teaching on love, sex and marriage, as contained in the council’s own publications.

The chairperson of the council, Joseph Lee King-chi, cited figures from the annual report, showing that over 3,000 families had been assisted during the last year, 27 per cent of which had requested counselling on marriage relationships.

Lee said the council is sponsoring the Grace and Joy Integrated Family Service Centre in Kennedy Town to help children and infants. 

The project, which covers play and parent groups, offers early intervention services to infants below three-years-old from low income families in the district, to stimulate their spiritual, emotional and social growth.

Volunteers have also been trained to assist inexperienced mothers of newborn babies to equip them with nursing skills and knowledge on home safety. The council will continue allocating resources to the project.

Lee added that the council will continue to support its Co-parenting Project for Separated and Divorced Parents, which offers counselling services to both parents and children in separated families, as well as workshops on post-divorce parenting to strengthen child care skills among separated couples.

The service received an outstanding project award from the Consortium of Institutes on Family in the Asian Region last year.

The annual report points out that 40,000 people took part in the formation and group activities. 

In addition, around 1,000 volunteers gave their time and skills to marriage preparation courses and natural family planning projects. Over 2,000 people joined various professional training courses.

As the council’s service centre in Caine Road opened in August, Lee said the council will organise more activities for volunteers and parishes.

Jesuit Father John Russell, the ecclesiastical director of the council, said families in Hong Kong are facing bigger challenges at present. 

He also expressed his joy at seeing the council promoting family values with other Christian organisations and stressed that social service groups should combine their resources to provide better support, rather than competing with one another.

 

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