FLRL NewsNews

World Meeting of Families 2018

Family Life Staff at the World Meeting of Families in Ireland!

This August members of the Family Life Office will traverse the Atlantic to participate in the World Meeting of Families 2018 (WMF) to be held in Dublin, Ireland.  This year the WMF will focus on key issues related to family drawn from Pope Francis’ teachings in The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia).

WMF 2018 will be a joyful and enriching occasion bringing adults, young people and children together to focus on family. During these five days, there will be time to meet and share, pray and reflect, grow in faith and love, celebrate, as well as gather strength to continue the work that lies ahead.

Our Family Life team will include: Director, Dr. Kathy Wither; Assistant Director, Suzanne Hammill; Coordinator of Separated and Divorced Ministries, Carmen Noschese, as well as Kathy and Carmen’s husbands, Dave Wither and Joe Noschese.

Each day of this event will reflect on the theme, “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World.” Our team will hear and see firsthand the dialogue surrounding key issues facing families today and those issues determined as critical by the Holy Father himself.  These critical issues include: the role of technology in the family dynamic, the impact that conflict and faith has on a family and, our world as it struggles with building a more sustainable approach to economy, work and the environment.  Discussion regarding the leadership roles of women globally and locally, as well as the role of education in raising families out of poverty will be pivotal.

We pray that our dedicated team has a joyful and safe trip and that the Holy Spirit continues to guide them and our Archdiocese towards joy and love through the strengthening of Family Life.

Catholic Grandparents Association

The Catholic Grandparents Association is a public association of the faithful whose goal is to assist grandparents in passing on the faith to their grandchildren.  Having raised their own children in the faith and provided them with faith formation and ensured that they received the sacraments, grandparents are now faced with the mission of passing on the faith to their grandchildren, some of whom have not been baptized and are not given opportunities to practice their faith and attend faith formation programs.

Grandparents have no agenda; they simply want the best for their grandchildren. They want them to be good decent human beings, to know the difference between right and wrong, able to make good moral decisions, and if they go astray along the way, to be able to find their way back to a loving, forgiving non-judgmental God.”
SpacerSpacerSpacerSpacerMrs. Catherine Wiley,  Founder of the Catholic Grandparents
New Paltz, New York 12561

To learn more about the Catholic Grandparents Association, please visit their website: catholicgrandparentsassociation.org

If you have any questions, or are interested in starting a chapter in your parish please contact:

Sue DiSisto

The Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents (in English and Spanish)

Serving the Spiritual Needs of Parents Whose Children of Any Age Have Died by Any Cause —  No Matter How Long Ago

One-day spiritual retreats offered throughout the New York Archdiocese

Of all the pains that life can hand us, arguably one of the most searing is the death of a child. As Jesus joined his distraught disciples on the road to Emmaus after his crucifixion, we ask him to join each of us in this ministry as we continue on our difficult journeys from grief to the healing peace that we, like Jesus’ disciples, can find in the Eucharistic community.

To meet the spiritual needs of Catholic parents whose children of any age have died by any cause—no matter how long ago—the Family Life Office offers The Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents. A unique, faith-based program providing spiritual retreats for grieving parents offered by grieving parents, the Emmaus Ministry offers a safe place where one can find peace, comfort, and hope, at least for a time. Join us at one of the Emmaus Ministry retreats now being offered in the Archdiocese of New York.

This program is offered in English and Spanish.

For information, contact Sue DiSisto, Coordinator, Parenting and Family Life Education at susan.disisto@archny.org or (646) 794-3191.

For further information about retreats in and around New England, visit www.emfgp.org

The Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents

Serving the Spiritual Needs of Parents Whose Children of Any Age Have Died by Any Cause —  No Matter How Long Ago

Of all the pains that life can hand us, arguably one of the most searing is the death of a child. As Jesus joined his distraught disciples on the road to Emmaus after his crucifixion, we ask him to join each of us in this ministry as we continue on our difficult journeys from grief to the healing peace that we, like Jesus’ disciples, can find in the Eucharistic community.

To meet the spiritual needs of Catholic parents whose children of any age have died by any cause—no matter how long ago—the Family Life † Respect Life Office offers The Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents. A unique, faith-based program providing spiritual retreats for grieving parents offered by grieving parents, the Emmaus Ministry offers a safe place where you can find peace, comfort, and hope, at least for a time. Join us at one of the following Emmaus Ministry Catholic retreats now being offered in the Archdiocese of New York.

One-day retreats offered twice at St. Joseph’s Seminary: (201 Seminary Ave., Yonkers, NY 10704)
Saturday, February 11, 2017 and Saturday, February 25, 2017
9:30 AM – 7:30 PM 

One-day retreat offered at the Church of the Magdalene (525 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, Tarrytown, New York 10591)
Saturday, April 1, 2017, 9:30 AM – 7:30 PM
Cost: $25 per person, $40 per couple, Scholarships are available

To register online: www.emfgp.org/archny or, contact Sue DiSisto, Coordinator, Parenting and Family Life Education at susan.disisto@archny.org or (646) 794-3191.

Una noche para recordar, orar, e interceder

Una noche para recordar, orar, e interceder

Cada mujer, hombre, familia, profesional de la salud, y todos nosotros hemos sido directa o indirectamente afectados por el aborto. En respuesta a ello, nos reunimos para orar y buscar la sanación y el perdón.

Esta noche incluirá:
• La Santa Misa
• Adoración al Santísimo
• Testimonios de personas que han sido afectadas por el aborto
• Oración de intercesión
• El Santo Rosario
• Sacramento de la Reconciliación

Patrocinado por:
Iglesia St. Helena
La oficina de Vida Familiar / Respeto a la Vida de la Arquidiócesis de NY (646-794-3199) Lumina/ Esperanza y Sanación después del aborto (877-586-4621)

Life Matters: Domestic Violence

Life Matters: Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a hidden scourge on our families and communities. Those who are victimized often keep it a private matter for various reasons: fear, shame, well-intended efforts to preserve the family. Aggressors, if they even recognize their problem, are not likely to have it addressed. Yet it touches many, and knows no boundaries of race, social class, ethnicity, creed or age (most victims are first abused as teens). Statistics suggest one in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime, and three in four Americans are reported to know a victim, though most episodes are not reported to the authorities. Although the majority of victims are female, an estimated 15% are males.

Domestic violence and emotional abuse are typically used together in a relationship to control the victim. Persons may be married, living together, or dating. Examples of emotional abuse include name-calling, putdowns, restricting contact with family or friends, withholding money, preventing a partner from working, actual or threatened physical harm (hitting, pushing, shoving), sexual assault, stalking, and intimidation. InThe Gospel of Life Blessed John Paul II highlighted the gravity of the issue: “At the root of every act of violence against one’s neighbor there is a concession to the ‘thinking’ of the evil one, the one who ‘was a murderer from the beginning’ (Jn 8:44).” He also outlined the importance of the family as the primary community of life and love in which children are nurtured. How vital it is, then, to understand how to keep family members safe from violence in their homes, and how to heal and reunite families where violence has occurred, when possible.

The person being harmed

Persons experiencing domestic violence are often termed “victims,” or if the situation has resolved, “survivors,” but it is most important to recall they are children of God, with inherent dignity and deserving our love and respect.This is especially true because as abused persons they are often plagued by feelings of shame, fear, and depression, and have lost sight of the essential fact of their dignity and worthiness to be loved. At times they may also make decisions that cause an observer (family member or friend) to question their judgment, or become frustrated with them for remaining in what seems to be an obviously dangerous or hopeless situation.

It is commonly accepted that domestic violence is rarely an isolated incident, but is a pattern of behavior aimed at establishing and maintaining power and control over another. The pattern is typically described as a “cycle of violence,” and the seriousness escalates with each occurrence. The “cycle” begins with a “set-up” phase: The abuser creates a situation in which the victim has no choice but to react in a way that, in the abuser’s mind, justifies the abuse. After the violence, the abuser may fear being held accountable, and so may apologize or make excuses for his or her behavior, pledge to never do it again, or use gifts as a way of coping with guilt or preventing the victim from telling. Next, however, the abuser may excuse the incident as the victim’s fault, or resume “life as usual” as if nothing happened. The abuser expects that the victim will participate in the cover-up. Finally, the abuser thinks about the past and the future in a manner that drives the abuser to mentally “set up” the next episode of violence.

Some victims of domestic abuse have a tendency to “normalize” violent behavior based on experiences in their family of origin, where they struggled with their sense of self-worth, setting boundaries, or emotional dependence. Even though the family of origin was dysfunctional, its unhealthy equilibrium may have been the only thing the person knew. Consequently, some may feel guilty about considering betraying the abuser, or fear they will be judged or further deprived of affection if they disclose or attempt to leave. These persons benefit from counseling that affirms their inherent dignity, helps them understand the dysfunctional patterns in their past and current relationships, and assists them in establishing a safe home and relationships.

Who are the abusers, and is there hope?

Although common characteristics have been identified, there is no “typical” abuser. In public, they may appear friendly and loving to their family, while the violence and its consequences are hidden from view. The violence does not happen randomly, or solely because of stress or substance abuse; abusers use violence to get what they want. This being said, it is important to recognize that the abusers were not “born that way,” but have their own history of developmental and family problems (often being abused) that can explain how they learned to be aggressive. Because abusers often have a poor sense of self-worth, they do not take responsibility for their actions and try to blame the victim instead. Thus the person perpetrating the violence needs his own help and healing.

Aggressors must first become aware of their need for psychological assistance before they can recover and exercise healthier patterns of bonding and communicating. It is difficult for people to seek help, often burdened by shame, fear of being judged, or psychological issues (e.g., addictions). Once the problem is recognized, there is reason for hope: psychotherapists can help such persons with their thinking, forgiveness, emotional stability, and relationship skills. These skills (e.g., empathy) should be developed first with close friends and family members (initially not the victim), so that the aggressor can experience a healthy manner of dealing with his emotions and disappointments. Although this work can be lengthy and painful, as the perpetrator’s own dignity and worth are rediscovered and affirmed, his ability to then approach and attempt reconciliation with the offended person is greatly enhanced.

The role of friends and extended family

Although this problem tends to be hidden, friends, colleagues, and extended family can play a critical role in fostering peace. Victims generally ask for help only when the risk of violence increases. An important step to help in preventing or stopping violence is recognizing certain risk factors such as jealousy, hypersensitivity and possessiveness, or controlling, explosive or threatening behaviors. If you believe someone you know may be in a troubled situation, you should call a hotline number for assistance, or encourage the person to do so themselves (911, the local hotline, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233/TTY 1-800-787-3224). Research shows that accessing domestic violence shelter resources reduces the incidence and severity of future violence substantially. When recovering from abuse, victims need guidance in planning for their safety. Consultation with legal advisors can help them to understand how to report and ask for further protection.

In sum, the gravity and difficulty for families touched by domestic violence is severe. Although the struggle toward healing and recovery can be difficult, our faith gives us reason for hope. On the World Day of Peace in 1997, Blessed John Paul II focused on this theme, as demanding as it is vital: “Offer forgiveness and receive peace…. I know well that it is hard, and sometimes even appears to be impossible to forgive, but it is the only way, because all revenge and all violence give rise to further revenge and violence. It is certainly less difficult to forgive when one is aware that God never tires of loving and forgiving us…. Let us never forget that everything passes, and only the eternal can fill the heart.”

Frank J. Moncher, PhD, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Arlington



La violencia doméstica es un azote oculto que afecta a nuestras familias y comunidades. Sus víctimas mantienen el asunto en privado, por varias razones: temor, vergüenza, esfuerzos bien intencionados por preservar la familia. Los agresores, si es que alguna vez reconocen su problema, es improbable que accedan a tratarlo. Alcanza a mucha gente y no conoce fronteras de raza, clases sociales, etnia, credo religioso o edad (la mayoría de las víctimas son agredidas por primera vez en su adolescencia). Las estadísticas indican que una de cada cuatro mujeres sufre violencia doméstica en algún momento de su vida, y que tres de cada cuatro estadounidenses conoce a alguna víctima, aunque la mayoría de los casos no son informados a las autoridades. La gran mayoría de las víctimas son mujeres, mientras se estima que 15% son hombres.


Se recurre usualmente a la violencia doméstica y el abuso emocional en una relación con el fin de controlar a la víctima. Pueden ser personas casadas, que viven juntas o “que salen”. El abuso emocional incluye insultos personales, jalones, impedir el contacto con familiares o amigos; retener el dinero, evitar que el compañero trabaje; amenazar con daño físico o causarlo (golpear, empujar), agresión sexual, acechar e intimidar. En su encíclica El Evangelio de la Vida el beato Juan Pablo II resaltó la gravedad del asunto: “En la raíz de cada violencia contra el prójimo se cede a la lógica del maligno, es decir, de aquél que “era homicida desde el principio” (Juan 8, 44)”. El Pontífice también delineó la importancia de la familia como comunidad primaria de vida y amor en la cual los niños se nutren. Cuán vital es, entonces, entender la forma de mantener a los miembros de la familia a salvo de la violencia en sus hogares, y cómo sanar y reunificar a aquellas familias donde ha sucedido la violencia, cuando sea posible.


La persona lastimada

Las personas que sufren violencia doméstica frecuentemente son catalogadas de “víctimas” o, si la situación ha sido resuelta, entonces se denominan “sobrevivientes”; pero, es más importante recordar que son Hijos de Dios, con una dignidad inherente, merecedores de nuestro amor y respeto. Esto es especialmente cierto porque como personas abusadas, frecuentemente están abrumadas por sentimientos de vergüenza, temor y depresión, y han perdido de vista el hecho esencial de su dignidad y su valía para ser amadas. A veces suelen también tomar decisiones que hacen que un observador (familiar o amigo) cuestione su sano juicio, o llegue a sentirse frustrado porque permanezcan en una situación a todas luces peligrosa e irrecuperable.


Se acepta comúnmente que la violencia doméstica en vez de manifestarse como incidente aislado, constituye un patrón de conducta de parte de alguien dirigido a establecer y mantener el poder y el control sobre otra persona. Este patrón es descrito como un “ciclo de violencia” cuya severidad se incrementa con cada episodio. Cada “ciclo” comienza por “echarle un gancho”: el agresor crea una situación en la cual la víctima no tiene otra opción que no sea reaccionar de forma que, en la mente de aquel, justifica la agresión. Tras el episodio de violencia, el agresor teme ser considerado responsable, y así puede que pida disculpas o presente excusas o prometa no volver a hacerlo jamás; o tal vez recurra a dádivas para lidiar con sus sentimientos de culpa o evitar que la víctima lo delate. A continuación, sin embargo, el agresor podría tratar de justificar el incidente como la culpa de la víctima, o reanudar “su vida cotidiana” como si nada hubiese ocurrido. El agresor espera que la víctima participará en el encubrimiento. Finalmente, el agresor proyecta tanto el pasado como el futuro de una manera que lleva al agresor a “echar otro gancho” que cree el próximo episodio de violencia.


Algunas víctimas de abuso doméstico tienen una tendencia a “normalizar” el comportamiento violento sobre la base de experiencias habidas en su familia de origen, en las cuales se debatieron con su sentido de autoestima, fijación de límites o dependencia emocional. A pesar de que la familia de origen era disfuncional, su insano equilibrio es la única cosa que la persona recuerda. Consecuentemente, la persona puede sentirse culpable por haber sopesado el traicionar al agresor, o teme ser juzgada o privada de afecto si revela el caso o intenta separarse. Estas personas se beneficiarían de consejos que los ayuden a reafirmar su dignidad inherente, a comprender la existencia de patrones disfuncionales en sus anteriores y actuales relaciones, y las asista en el proceso de establecer un hogar y relaciones sanas.


¿Quiénes son los agresores? ¿Hay esperanza?

Aunque se han identificado ciertas características comunes, no puede decirse que haya un “agresor típico”. En público, ellos pueden aparentar ser amistosos y amantes de su familia, mientras ocultan de la vista ajena la violencia y sus consecuencias. La violencia no ocurre al azar, o únicamente a causa del estrés o el uso de drogas; los agresores recurren a la violencia para obtener lo que quieren. Dicho esto, es importante reconocer que los agresores no “nacieron así” sino que tienen su propia historia de problemas de desarrollo y familiares (frecuentemente el haber sido abusados) los cuales ayudarían a explicar cómo aprendieron a ser agresivos. Ya que los agresores frecuentemente carecen de suficiente autoestima, no asumen la responsabilidad de sus acciones y en lugar de ello tratan de culpar a la víctima. Por tanto, la persona que perpetra violencia necesita ayuda y curación.


Antes de que pueda recuperarse y asumir patrones de unión y comunicación, el agresor debe darse cuenta de que necesita asistencia psicológica. Es difícil para una persona el buscar ayuda si está, como ocurre a menudo, abrumada por la vergüenza, el temor de ser juzgada y arrastra una que otra dificultad psicológica (por ejemplo, adicciones). Una vez reconocido el problema, hay razones para tener esperanza: los psicoterapeutas pueden ayudar a estas personas con su forma de pensar, el perdón, la estabilidad emocional y las capacidades de relación. Estas capacidades, como por ejemplo la de la empatía, deben desarrollarse primero con amigos cercanos y familiares (inicialmente, no la victima), de manera que el agresor pueda conocer formas sanas de manejar sus emociones y decepciones. Aunque este trabajo puede ser largo y doloroso, a medida que el perpetrador va descubriendo y reafirmando su propia dignidad y valía, se ensancha su capacidad para acercarse a la persona ofendida e intentar la reconciliación.


Papel de los amigos y familiares

Pese a que este problema tiende a estar oculto, los amigos, colegas, y la familia extendida pueden jugar un papel clave en fomentar la paz. Las victimas por lo general buscan ayuda solo cuando se incrementa el riesgo de violencia. Un paso importante hacia evitar o detener la violencia es reconocer ciertos factores de riesgo, como los celos, la hipersensibilidad y la posesividad, o comportamientos de querer controlar, explosivos o amenazantes. Si considera que alguien conocido se halla en una situación problemática o perturbadora, llame a una línea directa en busca de asistencia, o anime a la propia persona a hacerlo (911, la línea de emergencia local o la Línea Directa de Violencia Doméstica Nacional: 1-800-799-7233/TTY 1-800-787-3224). Los estudios muestran que acceder a los refugios de violencia doméstica reduce substancialmente la incidencia y la severidad de los futuros casos de violencia. Mientras se recuperan del maltrato, las victimas necesitan orientación en planificar su seguridad. Consultar con asesores legales puede ayudarlos a entender cómo informar y solicitar protección adicional.


En resumen, la gravedad y las dificultades que conlleva para las familias el ser afectadas por la violencia doméstica es severa. A pesar de que la lucha hacia la curación y la recuperación puede ser difícil, nuestra fe nos da razones para tener esperanza. En su mensaje para el Ángelus de la Jornada Mundial de la Paz del 1º de enero de 1997, el Papa Juan Pablo II, centrado en este tema, tan exigente como de vital importancia, expresó: “Ofrece el perdón, recibe la paz”… Sé muy bien que es difícil perdonar y que, a veces, parece imposible, pero es el único camino, pues toda venganza y toda violencia engendran otras venganzas y otras violencias. Resulta, ciertamente, menos difícil perdonar cuando se tiene conciencia de que Dios no se cansa de amarnos y perdonarnos… No olvidemos nunca que todo pasa y que sólo lo eterno puede colmar el corazón”.


El doctor Frank J. Moncher es Psicólogo

Family Life † Respect Life