National Family Week Australia: May 15-21, 2023

Each year, we celebrate National Families Week (May 15-21) – Australia’s annual celebration of families. The aim of National Families Week is to celebrate the vital role that families play in Australian society.

National Families Week is a time to celebrate with your family, make contact with your extended family and friends, and share in the enjoyment of family activities within the wider community. It is a time to celebrate the meaning of family and to make the most of family life.

CatholicCare’s theme is “Circle of Inclusion”. It calls us to recognise that every family is unique, and that family can include more than just those who are biologically related to us. Family can be those within our inner circle, our closest friends and loved ones. More at CatholicCare Victoria website.

National Families Week is celebrated to coincide with the United Nations International Day of Families on May 15. The Australia wide theme for 2023 is ‘living real, dreaming big’. National Families Week 2023 celebrates families in all their diversity and promotes the importance of family resilience in creating strong, safe and connected communities.

The theme ‘living real, dreaming big’ is an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a resilient family, and to celebrate and explore supportive strategies to foster resilience in families. When we talk about resilience in families, we’re talking about the ability to cope with life’s ups and downs and bounce back from challenges. Our individual characteristics, our family environment and the communities in which we live, all contribute to our ability to recover in difficult times. National Families Weeks 2023 is a time to celebrate our individual strengths, explore and celebrate the strengths within our families and communities and dare to dream of a safe and resilient world.

Let’s take the time to reflect on the critical role that families play in teaching, supporting and nurturing children especially as they grow. See here for more information.  

Read two reflections for this special week below:

Peta Mawby (Daylesford Parish)

Family relationships are like no other really.  They give us a sense of belonging and a strong sense of purpose beyond ourselves, much like our relationship with God.  My husband Dean and I have two teenage sons that have bought so much joy and depth to our lives and our marriage. 

Our eldest son Jack is currently studying in England and it has become even more apparent to us how important family connection is since he left.  We have had many impromptu video calls on challenging days or when he has exciting news.  We are the people he wants to share his world with first.  Our cultural and ancestry ‘family’ matters too, as he has visited many places on our family tree whilst being in the UK and soon will travel to Ireland to explore his great grandfather’s birthplace. 

Our youngest son, Alexander is also a special member of our family.  He is the instigator of ‘family hugs’ including with the dog!  He is the one who most looks forward to our annual family traditions of blackberry picking, mushrooming, chestnut gathering and the celebrations of Easter and Christmas. 

One of the gifts the pandemic gave us was a reset in our focus.  Who did we yearn to hug in those times of social distancing?  What family milestones did we miss out on?  Who did we just want to sit at the kitchen table with for a chat over a cuppa?  I think the answer for most would have been family.  

The traditional family unit is somewhat ‘uncool’ in our current society, as there tends to be more focus on individual needs and wants.  I feel the rewards of family life far outweigh anything I could achieve on my own and I am so grateful that our Catholic faith promotes and celebrates the important vocation of raising a family.

Linda Morgan Davis (Colac Parish)

Family – What is a family? Our answer today is different to that of even thirty years ago. A family does not need to be blood related as many blended unions attest today. However, what remains the same is the connection. That is what the Passionist Family Group Movement provides today, fulfilling a need realised fifty years ago.

The Passionist Family Group movement aims to build Christian Community through the development of extended families. Family groups create an extended family for all who wish to belong: church going or not, young or elderly, married, single or separated. With loneliness and isolation so prevalent in our society, there is a genuine need for people to know and support each other. Companionship, connection, hospitality and the sense of being part of a community is what our family groups provide.

My first connection to a family group came twenty odd years ago, when I was invited to join a “cuppa at Macca’s” one Sunday morning after Mass. Bringing two very young children to Mass every Sunday on my own was a challenge, but suddenly we were included and felt a sense of community. My children had a connection to others at “their Mass”.  They were spoken to and acknowledged. Their achievements were celebrated. There were social events and connection after Sunday Mass. As time went on my nine year old son would regularly spend time at gatherings discussing English football with a ninety year old Scotsman!! We all looked forward to the deserts that came with casserole night!

We have enjoyed the joys and sorrows of others. Children and grandchildren have come and gone to events. We have shared many meals and cuppa’s and a few adventures along the way. Without having to ask, I know I have the support of others when needed. Cutting lawns and cooking meals for those who are experiencing some hardship or crisis. The most important of all is providing companionship and acceptance; the sense of belonging to a community.

St Mary’s Parish Colac recently celebrated thirty years of family Groups and currently has three family groups, whose members enjoy a gathering each month throughout the year.

A Blessing for Families

Heavenly Father,
please bless our families
with Your everlasting love.
Give our families strength
to overcome hardship
and difficulties.
Give our families courage
to admit our faults
and forgive others.
Give our families joy
to live life to the full
and spread our joy to others.
May all families find comfort,
support and guidance
under Your loving care.

National Families Website