A Texas diocese has launched a series of parenting workshops to help moms and dads create a better family life for their children.
The Diocese of Victoria will soon roll out the “Be an Amazing Parent” series of online workshops, offered on the evenings of Aug. 19, Aug. 26 and Sept. 2.
Each workshop will address a unique aspect of the family structure, including healthy marriages, family communication, and household environment. The workshop was helped shaped by a diocese-wide survey answered by parishioners who described an interest in more parental resources, especially during the pandemic.
Justin Reyes, Director for the Office of Family Evangelization in the Diocese of Victoria, said the goal of the initiative is to “give families hope during this time” of COVID-19 and “to help parents see themselves as the ones God has put to be the parents for their children.”
“We are called to be an amazing parent and only we can do it for our kids, no one else is going to do it. We are going to give them some practical tips and advice that will help them … but also build a community,” Reyes told CNA.
When Reyes began his position last year, he issued a survey to parishioners asking what needs the diocese could help with. The responses mostly centered on parenting.
The top three challenges parents described facing were demanding schedules, overuse of technology, and financial hardships.
“One hope that I have is helping families think about priorities will help them slow down a little bit and then see what's really important and then spend their money accordingly,” he said.
“In today's consumer culture, [people are] trying to keep up with the Joneses …. but [we want to] help families slow down and a [see] what's most important is the mission right in your home.”
So far, around 20 or 25 Catholics couples have signed up for the workshops, which will be hosted in interactive online sessions.
The sessions are the beginning of the diocese’s parenting outreach, which will continue with regular follow-up sessions, where parents can connect, first virtually and then in person. The diocese hopes those sessions will be an opportunity for parents to build a community so they can exchange resources and share advice.
The first session, “Marriage: The Core of Parenting,” will address how investing in a healthy marriage can provide a strong base and foundation for raising children.
The hosts for the workshop will include Fr. Gary Janak, who is a licensed professional counselor, and Laura and Justin Reyes, who will offer insights and examples from their own marriage.
“We're planning on talking about keys for a healthy marriage,” he said. “My wife and I are going to share testimonies from our own lives.”
“Fr. Gary is going to speak from the role of counseling … because he meets with couples very often and has actually developed a marriage retreat … It is a really wonderful program that helps marriages go from good to great.”
In the second session, Ashley Silvas and Valeria Dubourdieu, counselors at the diocesan Emmaus Center, will lead the workshop “Communicating with Your Children,” a topic that is especially important during the pandemic, said Reyes.
“Ashley really wants to go talk about the coronavirus and how it's affecting children, how they're expressing their feelings and emotions differently. One of the things that Ashley talks about is if [children] are stressed out, they're not showing it in the same way. Then [kids are] picking up [ques] from their parents, the way parents are reacting to things.”
A final workshop in the series, “Creating a Family Culture,” will include presentations from several families, who will discuss their experiences establishing a Catholic culture in the home. These couples will be introduced by Reyes as if in a talk show format.
“[Each] family is going to come up one at a time and share a little bit about themselves, their journeys, and the culture they are trying to instill, [which] they are basing off the three cardinal virtues of faith, hope, and love.
“They Flynns, they have seven kids and they are going to talk about hope,” he said. “The mom, Michelle, she prayed the rosary every day ...and each day was for a different child. So they had the faith and the hope that their families stayed united … and the other hope of the rosary is that God remains in their lives.”