Changes made in the Family Life Office
By Hannah M. Hepfer
For several years, the ministries of Family Life and Catholic Family Counseling were combined in one office within the Austin Diocese. On May 1, the two ministries separated, amidst other changes within the diocese. The Chaste Living and Natural Family Planning ministries of the Pro-Life Activities Office moved to the new Office of Family Life, which is now under the secretariat of Evangelization, Catechesis and Family Life and includes the offices of Religious Education. The diocesan director of Evangelization, Catechesis and Family Life is Sharon Perkins and the associate director of Family Life is Phi Le.
Le holds two master’s degrees in Religious and Pastoral Studies from the University of Loyola New Orleans and a Doctorate of Ministry from The Catholic University of America in Washington. For the last year and a half, he has served as associate director of multicultural catechesis with the office of Religious Education and Formation. While in that role, he reached out and developed relationships with many Asian communities in Central Texas.
Amidst the re-structuring, Le says the mission of the Office of Family Life remains the same to provide services that affirm the sacredness of life, the sanctity of marriage, the sacramentality of the family, and a Christian lifestyle. He says his goal is to “develop the office in a way that encourages Catholics to pursue a deeply personal connection with Christ that transforms their lives.”
The Office of Family Life will continue to oversee marriage preparation for engaged couples, as well as marriage enrichment for married couples, marriage preparation facilitator training, and formation in the areas of natural family planning, human sexuality and Theology of the Body.
In his new role, Le aims to be in harmony with the spirit of the larger diocesan pastoral plan — collaboration as the means to implement the vision of encountering Christ in a transformative way. To that end, he plans to reach out to pastoral leaders who have served in the area of family life in the diocese.
“I would like to build relationships with people I’ll be working with, listen to their concerns and identify the needs,” Le said. “I also want to learn what programs, classes and retreats for marriage preparation have been offered at parishes around the diocese, so that they can be made more accessible for couples who may be desperately looking for them while planning for their marriage within the Catholic Church.”
One way he plans to make those resources more visible is to connect the Office of Family Life landing page to parish websites so that it can become “one-stop” shopping for those seeking information. Additionally, he also plans to form a marriage preparation advisory board to review the current program and ensure the most- current research is being used.
Le also wants to increase awareness about natural family planning (NFP). He plans to gather those who teach the five diocesan-approved methods of NFP together to discuss ways to reach those who are preparing to get married as well as single and married people who might not be aware of NFP.
“This is a collaborative effort to promote what is good and healthy,” Le said. “I am envisioning that there will be more acceptance and practice of NFP in the future.”
For more information on the Office of Family Life, visit www.austindiocese.org/offices-ministries/offices/family-life-office or contact (512) 949-2470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.