Our Family, Our Future /Domestic Violence Seminar


June 25, 2011, Holy Child and St. Martin Daly City.

Delivered by Kumare Nellie Hizon, Vice Chair, SF Archdiocesan Pastoral Council

The God we believe in is a God of love, of life, and of hope.

 From the beginning, God seeks to share bliss and perfect joy with human beings, and that is the Divine plan.  We are even created in His own image.  Scriptures have always shown us the love of the Father.  We have not seen the Father, but we know Him through His only Son, Jesus.  This relationship is the first and primary concept of our understanding of a family.  It is where God, where love resides.

 Regretfully, what separates us from experiencing this Divine love, from knowing God more deeply, is caused by our own failing.  By its very nature, this failing, the incorrect choice of action, is what brings its own disconcerting state, sorrow and pain, not that God willed it for us.  God does not prescribe punishment, or exact violence.  Neither anyone should.

 Then when humanity failed, the Father sent His Son to bring us back to Him.

 In Edna’s testimony, when her own mother failed to show love, several people stepped up to be her family: aunts, uncles, neighbors, her husband, moved to bring love and healing to her hurting and wounded being.  Family extends beyond our own homes.

 The Church, for many of us, is a big part of our family.  It is where we learn what Jesus taught us (Jn 15:9): “...As the Father loves me, so I also love you…”  The Lord Jesus reiterated His new commandment (Jn 15:12): “…Love one another as I love you…”

 This love is based on mutual respect, mutual understanding, and mutual devotion.  This is the model that describes true relationship.  This is the foundation of all relationships.  Every faith culture that I know instructs this.  There is no violence or abuse component in expressing one’s love.

 Everyone deserves to be safe and to live without fear.  As the Church teachings emphasize the dignity of human person, we could bring the dark secret of violence into the light of the Gospel truth.  We could bring love back to our families when there is pain, abuse and violence.

 How can we, as parishioners, believers, and churchgoers, help? 

  1. Be a good, engaged listener, with empathy and without any judgment.
  •  Among the reasons many are uncomfortable getting involved in domestic abuse and violence, is that, we do not know what to say, or what to do.  
  •  Know that if issues are technical, such as a need for medical, legal, or security assistance, we may refer them to resources/agencies that are available.  It is important to have information where they can be directed.  Several of them are in the hall downstairs today:  Seton Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Health Plan of San Mateo, Bay Area Legal Aid…
  •  Or, if you are receiving personal information, be a good listener, be sensitive, and let them know that help is available.  You may say something like:
  •  I will listen to what you have to say.
  • I will let you know where you can turn for help.
  • God does not hate you or want you to live this way.
  • Your job is to decide what will help you, and when, and how to act.
  •  Note that as we listen, we do not blame the victim, we assume nothing.
  • We treat information received as confidential, and that helps build trust and safety.
  • We may search for resource materials to help us respond to disclosures.
  •  It helps to have policies for prevention and intervention.  Let us establish protocols and procedures for addressing family concerns and issues.
  1. Another way is to be engaged in and informed of ongoing activities providing assistance:

 In 2008, USCCB surveyed all dioceses to learn about programs and activities undertaken to address domestic violence.  Some of those activities include:

  •  Providing links to community resources (e.g. safe houses, counseling)
  • Setting up informational display
  • Conducting educational forum
  • Organizing a day of reflection for survivors
  • Holding Interdenominational prayer service
  • Integrating in religious education curriculum information to educate children and youth in “right relationships” and what to do when something isn’t right in a relationship
  • Maintaining a garden at a local shelter as they teach healthy relationship concepts through discussion and activities.

 In addition, we can be certain that various churches and faith groups have similar activities and programs, like the Health and Wellness Program at this Episcopal Church, and those of the Catholic Charities, St. Vincent de Paul Society, among others.

 1. As a church group, promote activities and informational sessions within your parish: 

  • Provide/host trainings for pastoral ministers (in addition to clergy) which help create support ministries.
  • Encourage youth group activities that will discuss healthy relationships.
  • Organize committees on parenting that provide ongoing leadership and oversight, as well as guidance to couples, parents, and caregivers.
  • Develop ways to help survivors and children after leaving the shelter.

 The faith community is a vital lifeline for giving hope, saving lives, preventing abuse, building safe and healthy relationships, homes and communities.  We are members of one big human family, and we can make a difference in the world if we work together.

 As often as we can, remind ourselves, and everyone that we are made to God’s image and likeness, created to share the bliss and perfect joy of God’s abounding love.  He wills and finds a Way for us to be home.

 I am proud to say that I was involved in this annual spring event, Our Family, Our Future, when ALLICE first presented it five years ago, upon the directive of the Most Rev. George Niederauer, who had just become the Archbishop of San Francisco.

 Today I am elated to see the movement for healthy families grow and welcomed by the Episcopal Church.  I am happy to invite Mariterie Adams, president of Holy Child & St. Martin Episcopal Church Women, to enunciate the wellness program of this caring faith community.

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