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KENYA CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS

NATIONAL FAMILY LIFE OFFICE

                                                                                             

ABOUT

The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, a permanent institution, is the assembly of the Catholic Bishops in Kenya united and exercising their pastoral offices over Christ’s faithful, as shepherds of the Catholic Church in Kenya which they together promote by forms and means of apostolate suitable to the circumstances of place and time, in accordance with the Law, to promote the greater good, which the Church offers to all mankind. (CIC 447). The authority of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops is vested in the Ordinary Plenary Assembly. Currently there are 26 Catholic jurisdictions spread over 4 Ecclesial provinces, namely 4 Archdioceses, 20 Dioceses, 1 Apostolic Vicariate and 1 Military Ordinariate.

The National Family Life Office (NFLO) is an arm of KCCB, charged with the responsibility of promotion and support of human life and dignity, and providing holistic care to the institutions of the family and marriage, to enable Catholic families in Kenya to be sanctuaries of love and life. The Office came into existence in 1981, mainly to respond to the arching need to train and coordinate the Provision of Natural Family Planning Services to married couples across the dioceses. Over the years, several milestones have realized.

 

The National Family Life Office runs different programmes and activities to support stable marriages and families, responsible parenthood, positive parenting, marriage preparations, and holistic youth development. In addition, the Office continues to provide educational resources and to articulate the teachings of the Catholic Church on human life and dignity, marriage and family. The Office works in collaboration with the Dioceses, ecclesial groups and other key stakeholders.

 

VISION

Witnessing Christian family life.

MISSION

Journeying with families to evangelise in promoting sanctuaries of love and life.

OBJECTIVES

  1. Promote and defend authentic teachings of the Church regarding the nature of marriage and family life.
  2. Provide appropriate services and training for the integral development of all family members.
  3. Maintain standards in teaching NFP and FLE.
  4. Assist Catholic institutions in the implementation of marriage and family life activities.
  5. Articulate anthropological and theological principles.
  6. Respond to pastoral and public policy issues that concern marriage and the family.

 

PROGRAMMES

The National Family Life Office (NFLO) has been running various programmes in close collaboration with the Diocesan Family Life Coordinators across all the dioceses. The National Office empowers the pastoral agents to become trainers of trainers, who are in turn expected to cascade the information down to the grassroots level (parishes).

The family life programmes include:

  1. Marriage Preparation and Accompaniment (On-going)
  2. Psychosocial Support for Families (On-going)
  3. Family Resilience; Transforming Families & Parenting (On-going)
  4. Natural Family Planning (NFP)
  5. The Faithful House (TFH)
  6. Positive Parenting
  7. Prevention and Intervention of Violence in Families
  8. Family Life Education
  9. Living Marriage and Family Life to the Full
  10. Prolife activities
  11. Family Life Celebrations
  12. Family Life Counselling
  13. Abstinence and Behaviour Change
  1. Natural Family Planning

Natural Family Planning (NFP) is the general name for the methods of family planning based on a woman’s own unique fertility cycle. NFP is a scientifically based method of family planning that embraces fertility as a natural and healthy process (not a rhythm or calendar method). Since a woman experiences a clear, observable signs indicating when she is fertile or not, couples who learn about NFP find it effective for either postponing or achieving pregnancy.

“…The teaching of the Church on responsible parenthood is founded upon the inseparable connection, willed by God and unable to be broken by man on his own initiative, between the two meanings of conjugal love: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning…” [Humane Vitae, 12].

The Catholic Church teaches that NFP helps spouses respect the design of God for life and love as they achieve greater intimacy. NFP increases self–awareness and knowledge of both the husband’s and the woman’s fertility, enhances effective communication, promotes responsible parenthood and encourages male involvement in family planning.

  1. The Faithful House (TFH)

The Faithful House (TFH) program is intended for young people and married couples. It is an essential step in building a strong marriage and family. It is part of an effort of “family evangelization,” a family-focused initiative for human and social development. The goal of the programme is see families empowered with social, spiritual, moral, material and relational tools that will help them in the realization of authentic integral human development. The program is founded on the belief that a strong marriage can help bring health, stability and prosperity to a family.

The program emphasizes on chastity and faithfulness, before and during marriage, in building strong and committed marriages and healthy families, and as proven ways of reducing HIV infections.

The program is divided into five (5) modules:

  • Module One: The Frame of The Faithful House
  • Module Two: Completing The Faithful House
  • Module Three: Living in a Faithful House
  • Module Four: Challenges Within a Faithful House
  • Module Five: Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM)

Topics Covered

  • The Foundation as God
  • The Four Pillars as True Love, Respect & Human Dignity& Communication
  • The Walls as Family Values
  • The Door of Responsibility, Authority & Transparency
  • The Window of Light & Forgiveness
  • The Roof of Consciousness, HIV/AIDS & Drug/Substance Abuse
  • The Marriage bed, Abortion & Natural Family Planning
  • Pregnancy, Room for Children & Positive Parenting
  • Culture & Modern Influences around us
  1. Parenting

3.1: Positive Parenting

Positive Parenting is designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society. “Since they have conferred life on their children, parents have the original, primary and inalienable right to educate them; hence they… have the right to educate their children in conformity with their moral and religious convictions, taking into account the cultural traditions of the family which favours the good and the dignity of the child; they should also receive from society the necessary aid and assistance to perform their educational role properly” [Charter of the Rights of the Family – Article 5, 1].

3.2: Teaching Self Government (TSG)

This programme was introduced in Kenya by Nicholeen Peck in 2015. This curriculum is being reviewed and contextualised into “Parenting: A House United”

Teaching Self-Government inspires parents/caregivers to create family environments centred on calm, self-governed and unified relationships; empowering them for the good of the society.

  • The Office is involved in the development of the National Parenting Guidelines, which is spearheaded by the Ministry of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Social Programmes.
  1. Marriage Preparation & Accompaniment

Marriage is a gradual and continuous process. Subsequently the Church promotes intensive marriage preparation and calls upon pastoral agents to accompany the Christian family on its journey through life with solid spiritual catechetical formation (cf. CIC 1063, PC 65-69). This process entails 4 main stages: Remote, Proximate, Immediate and Celebration of the Sacrament. Also critical is ongoing accompaniment of the married couples.

Remote (0-18 years): This begins in the womb, through to infancy, childhood and adolescence. It takes place first in the family, in school and Church, and other peer formation groups.

Proximate (19-25 years): This stage is subsequent to and a gradual build up on the ground laid in remote formation. Ordinarily it takes place during the period of courtship or engagement.

Immediate (26ff): Successful completion of foundational formation (remote and proximate) leads to immediate preparation aimed at synthesizing and evaluating previous formation stages. It is prior to the celebration of matrimony and comprises a series of meetings with the priest and other significant pastoral agents with a final role in preparations.

Ongoing/Accompaniment: This is a primary element in pastoral care of families. Marital-family life formation is a continuous process comprising ongoing formation, and accompaniment for the new and young couples, as well as the older couples.

The three process of Accompaniment are:

  1. Accompanying: age 0 – 5; 5 – 10; 10 – 25; 26-35; 36-50 years of Marriage
  2. Discernment
  • Integration
  1. Family Life Education

Focusing on healthy functional families, family life education aims at teaching and fostering knowledge and skills to enable individuals and families to function optimally. The course also offers programmes that provide support to meet the needs of all family members on human development, human sexuality, healthy inter-personal relationships and family functioning, positive self-esteem, parenting, and spirituality, among other societal issues (cf. CSDC 213).

  1. Living Marriage and Family Life to the Full

There is a manual on this by Africa Family Life Federation (AFLF) in collaboration with KCCB National Family Life Office. This comes as a tool to contribute to the promotion and protection of marriage and family life in many of the dioceses of the English speaking countries in Africa. The topics of the manual are intended to help couples to fulfil their vocation of bearing witness to Christ as married persons in a very special way. Among the topics covered here are:

  1. Introduction to the Theology of the Body
  2. Identity and Dignity of the Human Person
  • Understanding Human Sexuality
  1. Family Life
  2. Christian Marriage
  3. Responsible Parenthood
  • Positive Parenting
  • Basic Family Life Counselling
  • This project was run from 2017 to 2019 where we trained more than 1,000 pastoral agents who included: Priests and Religious, Seminarians – in the 4 Major Seminaries, Catechists in-training and in-service at the 4 National Catechetical Training Centres, and family life coordinators and pro-family group leaders.
  1. Prolife advocacy and activities

The Catholic Church upholds the principle of respect for human life from conception until natural death. Abortion is the deliberate and unjust killing of the unborn baby in violation of its right to life (cf. CSDC 155; CCCC 470; EV 2).

The Family Life Programme is committed to supporting all prolife initiatives, which include but not limited to crisis pregnancy counselling, praying to save unborn babies and pregnant mothers, post abortion assistance to those in need, annual prolife March and lobbying the Government for prolife and pro-family laws and legislation.

  • The Office participated in the development of the National Family Promotion and Protection Policy, being spearheaded by the Ministry of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Social Programmes. The Policy is awaiting Cabinet approval.
  1. Prevention and Intervention of Violence in Families

In partnership with Pax in Familia and AFLF, this programme began in Kenya in 2018, titled “How Can we help to End Violence in Catholic Families”. The goal of this project was to strengthen the Catholic Church and relieve the suffering of Catholic families plagued by Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), by transforming the pastoral response to Violence in Kenya. The programme empowers pastoral agents to enable them to effectively prevent and intervene in cases of violence in families.

  • Taking the approach of “Prevention and Intervention of Violence in Families”, in 2020, The Office conducted follow-up workshops in the four pilot Dioceses; Nairobi, Nakuru, Ngong and Murang’a. This programme has also being conducted in Kakamega and Malindi Dioceses and for the KCCB Secretariat Staff. The Office hopes to roll out the programme in the other dioceses to support the hurting families and create a safe environment for children and families.
  1. Family Life Celebrations

As a means of strengthening the family life apostolate, dioceses are encouraged to celebrate Family Feast Days or Family Days at diocesan, deanery and parish levels. This includes the following activities:

  • Sacrament of Matrimony
  • Wedding anniversaries or special days for married couples where they renew their vows.
  • Solemnisation of Marriages in mass weddings
  • World Marriage Day
  • Annual Family Life Day
  • World Meeting of Families (after every three years)
  1. Family Life Counselling

Counselling is engrained in all our interventions in support, promotion and protection of family and marriage institutions.

  1. Abstinence and Behaviour Change

This intervention targets young people. So far the Programme has been carried out in collaboration with Education for Life Kenya, Youth Alive Kenya, Human Life International – Kenya and Heartbeat Life and Family Ministry’s Pure in Heart.

AFFILIATION

  1. The Africa Family Life Federation (AFLF)

SOME OF THE FAMILY LIFE GROUPS INCLUDE:

1.   Human Life International – Kenya

2.   Family Life Counselling

Association of Kenya (FLCAK)

3.   Education for Life Kenya

4.   Marriage Encounter

5.   Engaged Encounter

6.   Retrouvaille Movement

7.   Couples for Christ

8.   Youth Alive – Kenya

9.   Emmanuel Community

10.       Heartbeat Life & Family Ministry

11.       Protecting Life Movement Trust

12.       Kenya Christian Professionals Forum (KCPF)