CSFN and lay AHF leaders

Sisters and lay leaders of the Association of the Holy Family during their meeting in Philadelphia in 2015.

During the first week of March, Sr. Virginia Rozich, National Director of the Association of the Holy Family (AHF), and Sr. Michael Marie Franzak, AHF Coordinator for the Midwest Area, will be in Rome to meet with other AHF directors from the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN) provinces. The meeting, called by CSFN Superior General M. Jana Zawieja, will focus on changes in the AHF in the last five years and ways the AHF ministers to families. The weeklong meeting will include a review of the successes, challenges, materials and orientation programs that associates receive in CSFN provinces throughout the world.

“We’ll be looking at how we can reach out to families in a different way and how our program is working to help families,” said Sr. Virginia who has worked closely with Sr. Michael Marie and other AHF coordinators in the U.S. to develop a presentation for the meeting. The presentation, created in collaboration with Srs. Angela Szczawinska and Danielle Jacob, features photos of AHF members in the U.S. along with results of a survey given to AHF spiritual directors and will be offered in both English and Polish.

“The AHF is very different in the U.S.,” said Sr. Virginia. “In Europe, there is a family-centered focus with picnics, socials and pilgrimages and an emphasis on the family as the domestic church. There are also younger sisters in Europe to help with the Association. In the U.S, the association movement is focused on individual spiritual development, faith sharing and partnership in the charism and tends to attract an older population.” 

Sr. Virginia added with a smile of acceptance, “The Holy Family got old, too.”

Time often plays a major factor in why younger adults in the U.S. are not associates. They’re busy with family and work life with little time left for other obligations. The one exception? Texas. In Grand Prairie, TX, an active AHF offers families, many with young children, opportunities to become associates.

According to Sr. Virginia, the more than 300 AHF members in the U.S. often cite the spiritual strength they receive from CSFN sisters as a powerful reason for their involvement in the Association. It is this strength that allows associates to carry the CSFN mission into their service as Eucharistic ministers, lectors, parish leaders and volunteers. They help young mothers, are companions to elderly people and spend time with those who are sick. Most importantly, they are dedicated ministers in their own families.   

“Our associates are our partners in mission,” said Sr. Virginia. “Our Mother Foundress said that we must work with the laity to be where sisters can’t be.”

Associates have opportunities to share their faith and prayer with other members and with sisters through Masses, meetings and events throughout the year. In their own families and throughout their parish, work and social communities, they help spread Nazareth.

“People long for the holy and want to live the sacred,” said Sr. Virginia. “What some may not realize is that they can live their mission right where they are.”

The AHF is a practical expression of the intention of Blessed Mary of Jesus Good Shepherd to involve the laity in the mission of Nazareth. It involves mutual cooperation and spiritual exchange between the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and members of the Association. The Associates are presented with an opportunity for solid formation, a deepening of their personal relationship with God and involvement in the apostolic mission through participation in the life, spirituality and mission of the Congregation.

Sr. Virginia and all the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth invite you to explore how you can put love into action as an associate of the Holy Family.  To learn more, please visit: The Association of the Holy Family.

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