Editorial – Family fragility and strength

Marnie McAllister

A theme runs through the three stories on page one of this week’s Record, though it’s not perfectly obvious.

Of course, each story is imprinted with the logo of the Catholic Services Appeal, which provides funding for the ministries the stories highlight.

But that’s not the theme. The theme explores family —its fragility and its strength.

Its fragility is most obvious in the top story by Ruby Thomas, who describes Catholic Charities’ Mother-Infant Care Program. This little-known, but wide-reaching program prepares women for the work of motherhood.

It teaches them what to expect during childbirth with the hope that they’ll emerge from labor an empowered mother.

The program also teaches them how to advocate for themselves and their children. And it helps set them on a responsible financial track.

These advantages may make the difference between a mother who flourishes and one who struggles.

The second story highlights the foster care system — why it exists, how it works and opportunities for people to help.

Factors that separate families include addiction, neglect, abuse and human trafficking, according to  Katherine Easley, a representative of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

She spoke at an event on foster care organized by the Archdiocese of Louisville’s pro-life ministry last week. She and several others discussed how the church and state can work together to strengthen Kentucky families.

That story, also written by Thomas, notes that people can volunteer to accompany a young parent through the Orphan Care Alliance’s “Safe Harbor Program.” This accompaniment may provide the strength a family needs to step back from the brink of separation.

Darren Washausen, executive director of Orphan Care Alliance also suggested people become mentors or life coaches to children in the foster care system nearing age 18.

“One meaningful relationship can change a child’s trajectory, Washausen said during the event.

The third story strikes a happier note — it highlights the Oct. 21 Wedding Anniversary Mass honoring couples committed to one another from 30 to 70 or more years of marriage.

The story describes the marriage of Ethel and Raymond “Sam” Marrillia, parishioners of St. Margaret Mary Church. They marked 70 years of marriage on July 3. 

When asked about their long marriage, Mr. Marrillia told reporter Jessica Able, “After I got to know her, we got along fine.”

Family isn’t often that simple. And Mrs. Marrillia does acknowkedge things weren’t always easy.

“You have to roll with the punches. Life is not perfect. We’ve gone through some hard times and some good times,” she said.

But at the end of the day, the Marrillias are blessed with a committed partnership — a strong family.

The Archdiocese of Louisville aims to help strengthen families with its variety of programs and services offered through the Office of Family Ministries and Catholic Charities.

And all families — strong families and those in a more fragile state — are invited to participate. By engaging with one another with an eye to strengthening all families, we nurture  the family of God.

During the Festival of Families, held in Dublin Aug. 25, Pope Francis spoke extensively about the challenges and strengths of families. And he encouraged the families in atendance, telling them:

“God wants every family to be a beacon of the joy of his love in our world. What does this mean? It means that we who have encountered God’s saving love try, with or without words, to express it in little acts of kindness in our daily routine and in the most hidden moments of our day.”

MARNIE McALLISTER

Editor

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