The family is the domestic church. In this regard the Catholic Church in Kenya has a firm stand in protecting the family. To this end, the Family Life Program (FLP) was started in a small way as a Natural Family Planning (NFP) clinic in 1962 at the Mater Hospital in Nairobi. Its aim at the time was to assist married couples in spacing the births of children using natural means.
When in 1968 Pope Paul VI issued an Encyclical on Human Life, the Church in Kenya intensified the Apostolate of Family and Human life. Following this exhortation, the Catholic Bishops through the Kenya Catholic Secretariat (KCS) directed that all ways and means be found to teach married couples modern methods of family planning i.e. the Natural Family Planning (NFP)
In 1981 the Kenya Episcopal Conference (KEC), now KCCB started the Family Life Program with emphasis on NFP. By 1996, the program had extended to 11 Dioceses. In the CDK, the Family life department was established in February 2014, with declaration of our Bishop Maurice Antony Crowley. The office holder of the department since inception to date is Mr. Edward Shibanda.
b) Main Functions.
i. Promote Family Life Education, Christian and African Social Values.
ii. Promote an awareness of proper marital relations
iii. Organise marriage counselling activities
iv. Coordinate and organize marriage retreats, workshops and encounters for couples and young people.
v. Promote and create awareness on the rights and dignity of every family
vi. Create awareness on drug use and abuse and provide support on rehabilitation for difficult cases, in liaison with other relevant bodies.
vii. Advice and guide activities of family groups at the Parish, Deanery and Diocesan level
viii. Coordinate the activities of ToTs
ix. Provide support, pastoral care and rehabilitation to incomplete families; i.e. single mothers, widows’ etc. in the diocese.
c) Main Problems and Challenges
i. Lack of a policy on family Life Education in the Diocese
ii. Most Families are faced with social and marital problems
iii. Lack of communication and dialogue between parents and children.
iv. Widespread instability in polygamous families
v. Increase in number of divorces and abortions
vi. High rate of population growth.
vii. High incidences of child abuse, molestations and labor
viii. Early marriages for young girls
ix. High prevalence of poverty and unemployment
x. Problems of incomplete families
xi. Increased number of single, teen mothers
Goals and Visions for Family Life Education Department by 2021
i. Christian families in which African values are well fostered
ii. Well conscientized and strengthened families adequately serving the role of first schools of Christian life for children and support for Youths
iii. Pro-life families and respect for the unborn child and sanctity of human life
iv. Well-formed and informed families properly serving their roles as the domestic church, strong and cohesive Small Christian Communities as agents of evangelisation at the Parishes
v. A well-established, intensive and functional Family Life Education Program that covers all homes
f) Strategic Orientation
The following are the strategic guidelines for the FLE department during the plan period.
i. The department shall be committed to propagating the basic principle of an” Ideal Family” based on Christian teaching and values
ii. The department shall promote family stability by identifying and addressing problems that threaten harmony and cohesiveness in family life.
iii. The department shall provide guidance, counselling education and leadership training, aimed at enabling Christians to appreciate life as a GIFT from God, which must be guarded and protected.
iv. The department shall strive to enhance mutual and mature responsible and healthy relationships in the families, based on authentic (true) human love.
v. In close collaboration with relevant diocesan departments and/or committees the FLE department shall employ a trio approach in its endeavors, namely:-
To Promote Family Life Education for parents in which emphasis shall be placed on marriage counselling retreats and encounters.
To Promote Family Life Education for Youths, in which emphasis shall be placed on pre-marital counselling and education of Youths on dangers of drug use and abuse, teenage pregnancies, HIV/AIDS scourge and abortion
To enhance the sanctity of the human body as the Temple of the Holy Spirit in which emphasis shall be laid on care, protection and dignity of every human person.
g) Main Strategies
The main strategies the FLE department will apply during the strategic plan period are:
i. It will liaise with the Youth Department to promote responsible parenthood through the teaching of Family Life Education among the Youths in order to enhance responsible moral behavior.
ii. It will be committed to promoting awareness on the role of families as primary agents of evangelisation and catechesis
iii. It will identify, manage and strengthen FLE centers in deaneries and Parishes for promotion of FLE programs
iv. It will collaborate with the NFP section and other Family Life groups in promoting family values and ideas
v. It will identify and train stable couples and model Youths to serve as grassroots trainers (ToTs) in Family Life to their respective peers
vi. It will establish necessary structures to promote family movements at all levels
vii. The department will formulate and implement policies and guidelines on family life education in the entire diocese
viii. It will collaborate with the HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention Section of the Health Services Department to educate and enhance people’s knowledge and attitudes towards the Aids scourge.