PALM BEACH GARDENS | Just a few months ago, residents hunkered down in their homes and many parts of life were lived virtually.
To accommodate those in need of a connection to joyful, positive stories of hope and faith, the Office of Marriage, Family Life, Faith Formation and Youth Ministry recently began releasing the Joy of the Family newsletter, which offers good news, messages from the diocese, family activities and more.
“During the COVID quarantine, we had to revamp everything that was happening in our office,” explained Beth Zanotelli of the Office of Marriage, Family Life, Faith Formation and Youth Ministry. “Several of us suggested an e-newsletter to help us keep in touch with the faithful in the Diocese of Palm Beach. It was simply our attempt to reach out, but it really has blossomed into so much more.”
Every issue includes resources, messages from a variety of diocesan offices, a Joy of the Family blog, a calendar of activities, diocesan events and opportunities. It also includes a story reading from secular books that are rooted in faith and offer lessons for families called “Families Rooted in Faith.” It features video readings by clergy and lay people, such as Transitional Deacon Daniel Donohue and Jennifer Trefelner, diocesan director of communications, marketing and social media. Bishop Barbarito kicked off the series with a heartfelt reading about a boy of Italian descent who lives in Brooklyn.
Zanotelli said the next book featured will be “The Quilt Maker’s Gift” by Jeff Brumbeau, and read by Father Gavin Badway, rector of the Cathedral of St. Ignatius in Palm Beach Gardens.
All of the selections are part of a supplemental curriculum for parishes and schools designed by Ruah Woods Press called Rooted: Theology of the Body K-12 to introduce St. John Paul II’s foundational teaching on what it means to be a human person. The Family Life office has adapted this program for families, parishes, or schools which features lessons for families that accompany these stories. The lessons are included with the videos in the newsletter. They are also available at www.joyofthefamily.org.
The plan is to develop a library of videos with family lessons that can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and utilized by parishes, schools, and families to help them discover, among many other things, who they are in Christ, how to find God’s purpose in life. It serves to help all people of all ages who are single, married or widowed to understand and embrace the joy found when seeking a loving relationship with Christ.
“The newsletter is meant to reach everyone in the diocese. It’s a means to get the word out about resources, opportunities, and celebrations of our faith,” Zanotelli said, adding the the premise of the monthly newsletter is simple. “We hope it will strengthen families by giving them different resources and opportunities to practice their Catholic faith in their homes, the Domestic Church. It is meant to support parishes in helping the faithful encounter Christ in their everyday life.”
One way the Joy of the Family helps to create connections and foster community is through a section for prayers and intercessions, pertinent to the theme of that month’s issue. For example, in a summertime issue when so many Floridians are focused on the weather reports and the possibility of hurricanes, the prayers provided a personal radar for daily devotions and prayers aimed to help replace the “cone of uncertainty” with a strong vein of faith instead.
Another issue helped readers understand the value of praying the rosary and offer prayers and tips to help add the mysteries of faith into our personal and family spiritual habits and practices.
Zanotelli said coming together and sharing through the newsletter will help strengthen everyone both individually and as a community of faith. She hopes the Joy of Family newsletter will “ignite a joyful witness of faith to others.”
“As people return to community life, our mission is to focus on helping parishes bring us all to an encounter with Christ and a deeper appreciation of our Catholic faith,” she said. “As we accompany others in their journey, we pray that they will also become disciples and share the Gospel with everyone they meet. We all make up the Body of Christ. We are created in God’s image and likeness to know, love, and serve Him. We hope the Joy of the Family monthly newsletter helps us all to grow in faith and love. We pray that our diocese will continue to be a place where people feel the love of God and a sense of belonging to a community of faith.”