Passionate about their fellowship
The Passionist Family Group Movement (PFGM) celebrated its golden jubilee on Sunday May 6.
After starting at St Anthony of the Fields Catholic Parish in Terrey Hills, Sydney following a proposal by the late Passionist, Fr Peter McGrath CP, it has now spread throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Despite being a small parish, 26 groups eventually formed in Terrey Hills alone. Having created a way to help people get to know each other and extend fellowship to others, Fr Peter formed a strong sense of connection within the Terrey Hills parish. He built on faith formation sessions that allowed people to see the practical way they could live gospel values by creating extended fellowship.
Nine years later another parish established a family group. More parishes followed and from 1985 there was rapid expansion involving tens of thousands of people. The movement became one of the most significant ministries across Australia and New Zealand in which professed and lay Passionists shared significant leadership roles.
Family groups included people of all ages, cultures and very often a spouse/partner of a different faith: all discovered a way of living the gospel through practical care and supporting one another. Many people also gained a better understanding of the new level of faith they were living.
Family groups aim to meet once each month for a shared activity, whether it be a picnic, barbecue lunch, or an annual weekend camp. Firm bonds are created through these activities.
The movement’s logo captures what the group is about based on the Passionists’ charism where the cross is placed on top of the heart demonstrating God’s love for us. However, on the PFGM logo the cross is inside the heart, along with a cross-section of people to demonstrate that we carry each other’s crosses. The heart encloses the people, highlighting that the movement is about love.
The moto, ‘A Family For All’, says it all: ALL are welcome!
By 1990 the first lay directors were appointed replacing professed priests. This trend continued until all regions were served by lay Passionists. In 1998 the initiative spread to New Zealand and the Parish of St Mary’s, Paeroa and St John’s, East Coast Bays.
Lynn and Rob Hill from Paeroa invited Fr Brian Traynor CP to assist with the initiative. Fr Brian had conducted a parish mission in Paeroa in 1979. The Hills served for 25 years as national directors, overseeing the movement throughout New Zealand. Eight years after Paeroa began, there were 100 parishes in New Zealand with Passionist groups.
The PFGM moto, “A Family for All” continues to live on in many Catholic parishes throughout Australia and in some other Christian denomination parishes.
The following excerpt is from a letter that Fr Peter McGrath wrote in 2005 to a parish celebrating its 10th Anniversary with the Passionist Family Group Movement.
You will never realise in this life the little
miracles that have happened in your people’s
hearts because you have reached out to each
I believe that you have lived the Gospel, the
Good News of Jesus Christ.
What you have done to the least, the lonely,
the sick and grieving you have done to Him.
Life is made up of little things – hidden
kindnesses and care that never made the
You are the Church.
God bless and protect each one of you.”
Footnote: This article has been provided by the Passionist Family Group Movement. More details at: www.pfgm.org
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