The Catholic Diocese of Victoria’s Office of Family Evangelization reaches out to encourage, strengthen and form families. Especially refreshing is the Surviving Divorce ministry that helps those going through difficult separations and divorces, a sensitive subject in the church.

Many people are searching for ways to strengthen their faith, or they are struggling with difficulties in life such as the loss of a marriage or a child.

Many churches and private organizations offer similar services. The Catholic diocese’s addition of these much needed programs will give people more selection when searching for a group or program to help them through tough times.

The Most Rev. Brendan Cahill began his role as bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Victoria in 2015, and in 2019, he started the Office of Family Evangelization. Justin Reyes moved with his family from Orlando, Fla., to take on the role of director of family evangelization with the Victoria diocese.

The inspiration for the office came from Cahill’s time spent in the diocese, especially his work with the Emmaus Center, which provides counseling and mental health resources for families, and V Encuentro, which reaches out to Spanish-speaking families to help with their faith formation. Around 2017, the diocese established three priorities that became its mantra — evangelization, family life and human dignity. A 2018 conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville that focused on evangelization also served as inspiration for the bishop.

The office has focused on developing programs that help adults grow in their faith and lead their families closer to God.

The diocese’s services reach beyond marriage and divorce support. It also offers a men’s ministry which has held two conferences reaching hundreds of men and growing the parish-based men’s groups in the diocese. The first of what will be an annual women’s conference attracted almost 200 women. Days and mornings of reflection for women, which lend to their spiritual growth and fellowship, also have been among the office’s offerings.

Retreats to help engaged and married couples grow closer together and to God have been offered as well. For couples facing challenges in their marriages, Retrouvaille, a program to help strengthen marital bonds, was formed, and a Surviving Divorce ministry was started to help those navigating the difficulties of separation and divorce. The office also has started a grief support group for those who have suffered the loss of a child.

Reyes started a podcast, “The DOV Family Podcast,” that airs every Wednesday to reach families with messages of encouragement. The office also offers workshops, training and resources for parishes to help them reach families. The Victoria diocese’s territory includes 50 parishes and 17 missions. The various programs and offerings are made possible by Reyes; Aldo Camacho, a recently hired coordinator of Hispanic ministry; and dozens of volunteers.

The Office of Family Evangelization, which reaches out to those in need of support and guidance, is much needed in any community, and Crossroads residents are fortunate to have access to the programs that have been put in place.

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This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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