Marriages jump-start evangelisation

The Diocese of Broken Bay has launched an initiative in a Central Coast parish that may help change the face of the Catholic Church in Australia - and it's based on drawing parents and families together to live their baptismal vocations in marriage and family life

Reading Time: 3 minutes
The Domestic Church is a community of families in the parish that meets to grow in their relationship with God, says Ashleigh Donnelly. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
The Domestic Church is a community of families in the parish that meets to grow in their relationship with God, says Ashleigh Donnelly. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Married couple Ashleigh and Justin Donnelly feel “beyond blessed” to be part of the first parish in Australia to have the Domestic Church program available and can’t wait to see how far across the country it spreads.

The parents of 16-month-old Rosemary have stepped up and become leaders of the program which they see is filling a gap in couple formation by ministering to the whole family, something they feel is currently not available for people at their stage in life.

Creating a real “buzz”, they said parishioners were already lining up to be part of the movement and join the 23,000 married couples worldwide taking part.

The St Patrick’s East Gosford parishioners said that up until now there was nowhere for them to gather with other like-minded couples in their community wanting to grow their relationship with God and each other.

“Quite simply Domestic Church is a community of families in the parish that meets to grow in their relationship with God, and to grow closer as a faith-filled couple, with the flow on effect being growing faith-filled kids.”

They said that while opportunities for youth ministries and senior groups were thriving, there was a definite gap in ministry for “middle-aged” people.

“Justin and I have always been really involved in youth ministry, but when we got to the next stage in life and got married and started a family, our options were very limited,” Ashleigh said.

“Quite simply Domestic Church is a community of families in the parish that meets to grow in their relationship with God, and to grow closer as a faith-filled couple, with the flow on effect being growing faith-filled kids.

“Church events were instrumental in bringing us together so we knew we wanted Church to be part of our daily life once we started a family but didn’t really have the opportunity to do it.

Justin and Ashleigh Donnelly with their daughter Rosemary. The couple feels “beyond blessed” to be part of the first parish in Australia to run the Domestic Church program. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Justin and Ashleigh Donnelly with their daughter Rosemary. The couple feels “beyond blessed” to be part of the first parish in Australia to run the Domestic Church program. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

“Many parishes are great at holding social gatherings which we really enjoy, but we wanted some sort of formation at the same time which the Domestic Church provides.

“Coming together once-a-month and sharing prayers, Scripture readings and fellowship really is an incredible feeling and has already made a huge impact on our faith.”

Teacher Justin agrees that having an outlet for faith formation for married couples has been a “game changer”.

“However, the attraction of the Domestic Church for me is that it is something that my wife and I can do with our daughter as a family.”

“I think that there are good opportunities for married men to engage with their faith – for example here at St Patrick’s we have an active Men Alive group,” he said.

“However, the attraction of the Domestic Church for me is that it is something that my wife and I can do with our daughter as a family.

“We are a community of families sharing faith together in the Catholic tradition.

“The movement has a focus on integrating prayer and the reading of scripture into daily life which we have been craving.”