By Dave Jolivet, Anchor Editor
RAYNHAM, Mass. — It seems that whenever Servant of God Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton is mentioned in print, his signature quote, “The family that prays together stays together,” is never more than a sentence or two away. That’s because those seven words created one of the most powerful and pure promises based on God’s love for His children.
It’s always been the tradition of Father Peyton’s confreres to carry on his passion and zeal for prayer, especially when it comes to keeping families together or healing broken ones.
In that context, Holy Cross Father Willy Raymond, president of Holy Cross Family Ministries in North Easton, founded by Father Peyton, will present a four-day Lenten mission at St. Ann’s Church in Raynham beginning March 16 and ending March 19. The mission theme is “The Joy of the Family: Begins in Our Homes.”
Each of the sessions, which includes Mass and an extended homily, begins at 7 p.m. at the church at 660 North Main Street in Raynham. The mission is sponsored by the diocesan Taunton Deanery.
Father Raymond took over as president of HCFM this summer after spending 14 years in Hollywood as director of Family Theater Productions, a branch of HCFM, where he had a hand in creating faith-based family films, television and radio.
Father Raymond will build on Pope Francis’ messages in the preparatory catechesis for the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.”
“We all want our family to be strong, faith-filled, loving and joyful,” said Father Raymond.
In an interview with The Anchor, Father Raymond said, “It would be wonderful to have families attend. I am focusing on the joy of the family that originates in the Family of the Holy Trinity; is modeled for us in the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph; shared with all of us in the family of the Church; is brought down to earth in our proper families and healed and refashioned in the merciful family in Reconciliation and Confession.”
The Thursday session will include a communal Penance service followed by individual Confessions for all who so desire.
Father Raymond said the mission will be “book-ended by the two sessions of the Synod on the Family.”
The sessions will focus on:
— Models for our families: The experience of the Family of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Does this mean anything to us today?
— Our own family: Our membership in the domestic Church, called the family. How are we doing as a family?
— Our Church family: Our own membership in the human family and the Family of God called the Church. How am I related to others as a member of the Body of Christ? Any benefits for me and my family?
— Merciful families: Forgiveness and reconciliation, with God, with the Church, with spouses and children and with parents.
Father Raymond said that he wants folks to know that their families are indeed “holy families.”
“Our hope is to walk you through what may sound complex but what is actually very simple,” he said. “Let your family overflow with joy, living and being Christ to one another.”
Fellow Holy Cross Father James Fenstermaker asked Father Raymond to lead this year’s Taunton Deanery mission. “I have done a number of parish missions in the past several years but have usually had to decline them because they would have taken me away from work in Hollywood,” Father Raymond explained. “Now I am a bit freer ... for the time being.”
With a priest leading the retreat being a member of the order of a man who is already a Servant of God and whose sainthood cause is well under way; and during the reign of a pope who is calling for a return to simpler ways with a focus on families, it’s perfect timing for a Lenten mission concentrating on the family.
The sessions are free and open to the public.
For more information on the mission contact St. Ann’s Church at 508-823-9833. For more information on Father Peyton or the Holy Cross Family Ministries family visit hcfm.org or call 508-238-4095.