Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
As of July 1, that very popular website CatholicMom.com has joined forces with Father Patrick Peyton’s Family — the Holy Cross Family Ministries. It promises to be quite a Catholic marriage.
“It’s providential,” Holy Cross Father Willy Raymond, the president of Holy Cross Family Ministries, told the Register.
Lisa Hendey founded CatholicMom.com in 2000 to build a community for Catholic parents sharing insights on how to live their faith with their family. It has grown tremendously since being started on a kitchen table 17 years ago.
“She has wide audience of over 4 million connected in a variety of ways with CatholicMom.com.” And there’s a total of 32 million return visits.
“We’ve been building up our presence in the last few years on the internet as well,” Father Raymond said of HCFM’s efforts. “Our Facebook number is 1.2 million.”
The Holy Cross Family Ministries website also includes daily family prayer and daily family homilies. It all fits Father Peyton’s byword slogan — The family that prays together, stays together.
“We’re putting a lot of time and efforts into reaching young Catholic families online,” Father Raymond noted.
SCFM is the result of the worldwide family of ministries founded by Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton as Family Rosary and Family Theater Productions. In fact, before his current position, Father Raymond spent 14 years in Hollywood as national director of Family Theater Productions.
Father Raymond explained that for years he’s admired Lisa Hendey’s work with the website and “followed the development of this ministry on CatholicMom.” When others approached her first about merging, Father Raymond said that she saw this as the best relationship “given what she’s been doing especially with Catholic spiritualty with prayer in young Catholic families and what Holy Cross Family Ministries is doing as well.”
Naturally, having both ministries under the same umbrella made great sense since both want to reach out to Catholic families more and more.
“We're compatible in our visions for the family and we have the Internet technology resources,” Father Raymond said.”
Families and fans of both sites need not worry about drastic changes. None will be noticeable. Father Raymond explained that HCFM wants CatholicMom “to keep its own identity and keep Lisa connected with it as well.”
The merger also means a global expansion for both since HCFM has offices in 16 countries.
“I look forward to having the support of Holy Cross Family Ministries to continue to expand the mission of CatholicMom around the world,” Hendey said in a press release. She’s appeared on EWTN and has been connected with EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show and Relevant Radio, She travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family and Catholic communications.
“Father Willy Raymond and his team have the experience to grow our community and explore new directions to serve today’s young families worldwide,” she added.
Vision Carries On
The whole outlook is to more fully support spiritual needs of families. “The Rosary is an important part of that for me,” Father Raymond said. “The goal is to get families to pray in a serious contemplative way for grace and God to work in the family for a bond that is unbreakable.’
The hallmark is Father Peyton’s unforgettable slogan — The family that prays together stays together.”
There’s a great need for HCFM and CatholicMom to reach every family together. Father Raymond said that research, including research initiated by HCMF, shows —that only 3% of families “do everything right and practice,” who are “faithful and committed” to the faith. If we look at the continuing figures as an inverted, widening cone, next up are those who attend Mass regularly but do not see themselves as disciples of Christ and missionaries as well.
Higher up and widening are those not engaged or attending only once or twice a month. Next up are those going to church twice a year, then also those who call themselves Catholic but “it makes not one iota of difference in their lives,” he said. “We want to reach out to them.” HCFM and CatholicMom together want to show them how it’s really wise to engage as missionaries, to be on fire and to share that with others to build the kingdom. Again, it’s to build up and strengthen families.
There are bonuses for the fans of CatholicMom and HCFM now too.
First, Father Raymond explained that Hendey did get a lot of questions from people concerning their marriages which fell apart, they were civilly remarried, but now want to be part of the Church. They are asking what they can do about their situation.
“She always wanted a priest on the staff to answer these kinds of pastoral questions,” he pointed out. Now she has priests to do that.
Second, the CatholicMom.com Book brand that Ave Maria Press launched will come along under the umbrella too. Many are familiar with Hendey’s books The Handbook for Catholic Moms, the Book of Saints for Catholic Moms, and the Chime Travelers children’s fiction series. Other books in the series look at many different family and parenting issues from a Catholic perspective. Father Raymond said Hendey wants to dedicate more time to writing too. “We’ll support her in that as well.”
Father Raymond has nothing but enthusiasm for the outlook for the activity on both websites with this pairing.
He affirmed, “We expect it to increase substantially.”
As it does, families will strengthen, fulfilling the vision of Father Peyton because “The family that prays together stays together.”