March 16, 2018

Two new pastoral ministry offices are ‘united in service and mission’

By Natalie Hoefer

Marriage and family life. Human life and dignity. Both are vastly important—and both are vast.

“There’s a natural complementarity” between the areas, says Deacon Michael Braun, archdiocesan director of the Secretariat for Pastoral Ministries. “Both are concerned with life issues, relationships, catechesis and pastoral care.”

For many years, both areas have been addressed in central and southern Indiana by the archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life and Family Life, which falls under the pastoral ministries secretariat.

But after an independent assessment and input from staff members, parishioners and leadership, “it became clear that we needed more focused effort to be in the best position to serve our mission and parishes,” says Deacon Braun. “We determined that having two distinct offices would be the approach to take.”

The result is the creation of the Office of Marriage and Family Life, and the Office of Human Life and Dignity.

The marriage and family life office will address marriage enrichment, family enrichment, marriage preparation, natural family planning, divorce ministry and bereavement ministry.

The human life and dignity office will oversee Birthline for expecting mothers and mothers of infants, post‑abortion healing ministry through Project Rachel, parish nursing, substance addiction ministry, a developing mental health ministry and all pro-life activities.

“My expectation is that we will see real gains in responsiveness to the needs of the community and in the breadth of programs we can offer,” says Deacon Braun.

Scott Seibert, director of the new Office of Marriage and Family Life, says the assessment shed light on the “glaring need that we had seen for more support for marriage and family enrichment.

“We do a great job of [marriage] preparation, … and our office has always done a good job of walking with people through the divorce process. It’s that middle marriage-and-family-life process” that is in need of enhancement, he says.

Seibert says there have been “some really good conversations about how as a Church we can reach out specifically to those families around our Catholic schools who may be disengaged with parish life, and re-engage them in a very intentional way.”

As for the Office of Human Life and Dignity, Brie Anne Eichhorn was recently hired as coordinator. While she admits she has “a lot of learning to do,” she feels “a passion for all of the ministries” under the umbrella of her office.

While the offices are separate, “the leadership and staff from both offices will continue to collaborate in their service to parishes,” says Deacon Braun. “In ministry, they are united in service and mission.” †

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