Families from around the Diocese converged on Waipara Riverside Park to enjoy fun, friendship, discussion, and prayer on a bright weekend from 13-15th April.
Facilitated by the team at the “John Paul II Centre for Life” and ably assisted by the Diocesan Youth Mission Team, the weekend gave couples an opportunity to network and listen to talks centred on a Catholic view on authentic love, relationships, the meaning of motherhood, and what true manliness really means.
The talks were presented by Celia and John Kennedy, Sandra and Brett Martin, Ruth Green and Katie Malone, and Brendan Malone. The talks and discussions were informative and relaxed, enabling couples to connect and be empowered with a 'toolkit' for communication. The central theme was “You are Gift”, inspired by Blessed John Paul II's emphasis on the 'Law of the Gift'.
The weekend also gave busy Mums and Dads time to relax and reflect together while the talks were on. There were some 40-50 children present from babies to teens and the camp provided plenty of activities for play and friendship. The Mission Team excelled in providing support and activities for the children.
There was a real understanding between everyone involved and an authenticity that enabled families to continue with their own routines and responsibilities with infants and young children. Children could be with you if you wished. It was family and Faith together.
Father Fillipo Maria of the Community of St John supported the weekend with Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, humour, teaching the children about God's love for them, and a friendly game of soccer (with Italian flair). . We were truly blessed by his presence.
The Feast of Divine Mercy was celebrated with Mass, and the weekend ended with a barbecue lunch.
The impetus to hold the camp was inspired originally by the annual camps promoted by Catholic Family Ministries in Alberta, Canada, and also by the Catholic Family Retreats now in their fifth year in the Hamilton Diocese. What many families enjoyed was the ability to connect with other families as too often we get isolated through work, distance and the pace of life today. The call for a continuation of the weekend event was embraced by everyone involved.