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KANSAS CITY, KS — Communio and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas have launched a major partnership to equip and mobilize parishes across the archdiocese to save the family by strengthening and fostering healthy marriages and relationships.

Starting with at least 10 parishes and expected to expand in the months ahead, Communio will serve a diverse group of churches in rural, suburban, and urban settings.

This work builds on a major philanthropic experiment Communio led during its testing phase in Jacksonville, Florida from 2016-2018, which lowered the divorce rate 24 percent.  Communio has since taken this model to churches in Montana, Colorado, Texas, Minnesota, Illinois, Louisiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, and Massachusetts.

The goal of this large archdiocesan-funded initiative is to measurably grow the health of marriages, and the number of marriages in northeast Kansas, as well as to grow the number of Mass attending Catholics in the region.  The work will go beyond just the currently married. It will also include a focus on supporting singles within northeast Kansas to help foster healthy relationships.

And the need in the culture is massive:

  • Nationally, the number of people getting married has declined 31 percent since 2000 and 61 percent since 1970. The Catholic marriage rate is even worse – dropping more than 75 percent since 1970.
  • Divorce and out of wedlock birth remains high as 54 percent of all kids today will reach their 17th birthday without continuously married parents.
  • And all of this has profound consequences for evangelization and discipleship.

New research shows that the marriage health of our parents may be the largest determining factor of whether young adults go to church and express faith in Jesus Christ:

Millennials and Baby Boomers who grew up in continuously married homes attend church each week at nearly identical rates.

Yet, 82 percent of Catholic parishes and 85 percent of all Christian churches nationally report spending zero dollars annually on marriage ministry.

“There is much discussion about a vocation crisis within the church and that often focuses on priestly and religious vocations,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann said.  “However, there is a much broader vocation crisis within the church that is often ignored. Many young adults are hesitant or even afraid to make any long-term commitment. For the first time in our nation’s almost 250-year history, less than half of the adult population in our country is married.”

“I’m thrilled that our archdiocese is partnering with Communio to support our parishes in beginning to solve this crisis in our region.  The fruitfulness of the New Evangelization is very much dependent upon the health of our marriages.”

Archbishop Naumann recently interviewed J.P. De Gance, Communio’s founder and president, on his radio show – The Shepherd’s Voice – where they discussed this new initiative.  You can hear this conversation by clicking here.

Communio is collaborating with archdiocesan leaders to ensure the success of the participating parishes. The Office of Marriage and Family Life and local apostolates EverMore in Love and School of Love will provide support in implementing parish plans for ongoing relationship formation.   Tory Baucum, director of Benedictine College’s Center for Family Life will serve as a liaison and advisor to Communio and the parish leadership teams.

Over the next three years, Communio will serve and equip parishes with its Data-Informed, Full-Circle Relationship Ministry® model to run pre-evangelization campaigns and ongoing ministries both for active parishioners and for the surrounding community.

Focused on building vibrant and healthy communities that foster healthy relationships and marriages, this work will also address the huge need around the societal epidemic of loneliness.

Even before COVID, public health experts across the nation raised the alarm bells about an epidemic of loneliness.  In a well-publicized health insurance study just before the pandemic, 47 percent of all Americans said they felt alone or left out. Experts have found that this chronic feeling tends to reduce lifespans by an average of 15-years.

And since the onset of the COVID pandemic, this loneliness epidemic has not improved.

During the coming summer months, Communio will support parishes in running surveys analyzing the relationship health of their membership and help run an analysis on their surrounding community.  They’ll work with parishes building measurable goals to both grow the parish and improve marital and relationship health, and then develop a written 2-year plan to achieve those goals.

The roll out of the public elements of these parish-based, Full-Circle Relationship Ministries® will begin in September and October of this year.

Pope St. John Paul II wrote in Familiaris Consortio: “The future of humanity passes by way of the family.”

In Kansas City, help is on the way to the family.

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