Finding Opportunity in Crisis
What more can ministers do to attract families that are not so closely associated with Church? In Our Hearts Were Burning: A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation, the U.S. bishops urged us to help parents participate actively in faith formation of their children. Some occasions for meeting these families include children’s sacrament preparation or club activities at the parish. Small faith sharing groups can provide practice at sharing their faith stories, offer companions on the journey, and reinforce them in Christian values. Groups like the Christian Family Movement hold informal gatherings in people’s homes for faith-building conversation and family outreach activities.
The parish should endeavor to be a place where families meet like-minded friends who are their peers in the vocations of both marriage and parenting and counter the negative cultural trends, like materialism, individualism, and secularism. The “face-to-face encounter with others” of which Pope Francis speaks can be a new experience for people accustomed to private, individual, or infrequent religious practices. We will want to make the most of those times, making them warm experiences of meaningful prayer and hospitality. In Family Ethics, Julie Hanlon Rubio recommends that parishes offer opportunities “to bring spouses or families together to deepen their personal communion or to live out their familial vocation to be disciples of Christ in the world.” 
Pope Francis says that formation for lay people should especially focus on the Word of God (175). Connecting Young Adults to Catholic Parishes describes catechetical and enrichment programs that include opportunities for young parents to reflect on how to apply the meaning of Scripture and Catholic tradition to daily life as disciples of Jesus Christ. Parents in such programs learn to develop patterns of ritual celebrations at home, and to experience a variety of prayer styles and practice them.
 USCCB, Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation, (Washington, DC: USCCB), 34.
 Julie Hanlon Rubio, Family Ethics: Practices for Christians, (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2010), 200.
 USCCB, Connecting Young Adults to Catholic Parishes, (Washington, DC: USCCB, 2010), 4.