Angie and Mike Fuith of Stillwater, Minn., attend a Prayer Service for Life with their 3-month-old daughter, Gianna, whom they are in the process of adopting. The upcoming Year of the Family proclaimed by Pope Francis is an opportunity to acknowledge all of the loving, challenging, happy, sad and unique situations every family goes through.  CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit
Angie and Mike Fuith of Stillwater, Minn., attend a Prayer Service for Life with their 3-month-old daughter, Gianna, whom they are in the process of adopting. The upcoming Year of the Family proclaimed by Pope Francis is an opportunity to acknowledge all of the loving, challenging, happy, sad and unique situations every family goes through. CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit

Whether single, married, child or adult, everyone is part of a family.

“We need to think of ourselves more and more as a single family dwelling in a common home,” Pope Francis has emphasized.

Focusing on the central role of the family in the domestic Church, the Diocese of Trenton will join ecclesial communities across the world in observing the Year of the Family proclaimed by Pope Francis, which is March 19, 2021, to June 26, 2022.

“The Year of the Family is an opportunity to shine light on ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ a document that acknowledges the unique and often challenging situations in every family but provides clear pastoral instruction for our clergy, our lay ministers and our families in how to live the Joy of the Gospel each day,” said Peg Hensler, diocesan associate director for marriage ministries and NFP.  

The timing of feasts and celebrations of the Church always carries special meaning, as is the case with the Year of the Family.

Pope Francis made the announcement Dec. 27, coinciding with the Feast of the Holy Family. March 19 is the feast day of St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus and patron saint of the universal Church. It is also the five-year anniversary of the promulgation of Pope Francis’ encyclical “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love). The Feast of the Annunciation takes place March 25, completing the family picture with the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus. And on June 26 of next year, the X World Meeting of Families in Rome will take place with the Pope.

During the year, diocesan events will be coordinated through the lens of the family, too. For example, annual celebrations such as Las Antorchas Guadalupanas, the Bishop’s Anniversary Blessings and more will be observed with extra focus on the special role families have in the Catholic Church. There are also plans for a statewide NJ Provincial Love and Family Life Virtual Conference for families June 21-26.

“Our goal in the Diocese of Trenton is to be a channel of God’s infinite mercy for families in every stage of life who may be dealing with extraordinary difficulties, and to ignite the spark of missionary discipleship that exists within every Catholic family,” Hensler said.

From young adults, newly married and families with young, school-aged children or adolescents, to those single, married or in their senior years, faithful in every stage of life will be encouraged to embrace their role in the Church.

“The pandemic experience has highlighted the central role of the family as the domestic Church, and has shown the importance of community ties between families,” the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life in Rome said.

Pope Francis reminded Catholics in “Amoris Laetitia” that everyone can participate in the great human family by remembering their treatment of others.

“The words ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ and ‘sorry’ are essential for healthy family life,” he wrote. “Love seeks to build relationships and to encourage others … Love rejoices in the success of others, not in their failures. Joy in the success of others is a fruit of love.”