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The joy of family life

Francine Crimmins  |  22 May 2018

The Hyland familyThe Hyland family from the NSW Central Coast has been selected as the official family delegate for the World Meeting of Families (WMF) to be held in Dublin during August this year. 

Leanne and Shane Hyland, have been married 20 years and are parents to Joshua (12) Alyssa (8) and Lachlan (6). The Irish pilgrimage will mark their first overseas trip as a family.

‘It’s getting a bit more real because we just went and had our passport photos taken the other day’, says Shane.

‘We are very excited as it gets closer’, Leanne adds.

Leanne Hyland has been a primary school teacher for six years at MacKillop Catholic College, which is also the family parish. Shane has recently begun teaching Studies of Religion after completing a Masters of Teaching and a Bachelor of Theology.

The WMF is a week-long event held every three years. The theme of the 2018 meeting is ‘The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World’. The days will be filled with keynote speakers, discussion, daily masses, workshops as well as performances to showcase the culture of Ireland.

Contribution to parish and wider community

The Hyland family was chosen as the delegate family because of the ministry they contribute to their own parish and to the wider community.

While Shane was studying, he was also doing chaplaincy work in a local prison. Leanne is on the parish pastoral council. Together the couple runs a youth group called ‘Edge,’ which caters for teenagers in early high school.

‘We have this lovely bunch of kids that really want to learn more and I think they really appreciate that time to get together after Mass once a month’, Leanne says.

‘Some of the kids that come to youth group are children that I have taught in Year 6 in the last two years.’

The Hyland family also are active music ministers in their church, providing music to weekend services for the past six years. The ensemble is made up of Shane and Leanne, their children and some of their friends. They say it has been one of the greatest things they have done within their parish.

Amazing opportunity

When their parish priest first told them about the opportunity to be sponsored to attend WMF in Dublin, they thought it would be an amazing opportunity.

‘Just to be nominated for the Diocese of Broken Bay was awesome. We are pretty keen on making a difference and being involved in our parish and schools, so when we received the letter from Bishop Michael Kennedy it was incredible. We were just stoked’, Leanne says.

The couple say they had to keep the announcement a secret for three weeks until the media release went out.

‘It was so hard, we just wanted to tell everyone because nothing like this has ever happened to us. We have never travelled before. We’ve had hard times, so yeah it’s pretty awesome’, says Leanne.

Leanne said their children were also ‘over the moon’ about the announcement of the family being chosen by the Bishops Conference as the Australian delegates.

‘It’s great because we get to go overseas with other families too and hopefully they get to build relationships with the other kids on the way there and throughout the pilgrimage’, she says.

Shane also says it will be a privilege to show their children some of the Catholic history of Ireland which intersects with the early church in Australia.

The Hyland family as part of their official role have been asked to write a report when they return to Australia about what they learn, and how these discussions might be implemented in their diocese.

Receive formation in family ministry

‘We want to receive formation in family ministry. It’s on a very big scale, but it will give us a broad overview of a bigger picture, and the Pope’s vision for families and what that means for us as we live out our faith.

‘We are really hoping to get inspired by the people we meet, especially all the speakers, so we can then come back and make a difference perhaps at a parish level and for other parishes. We want to go out and talk about family because we know how challenging family life is.’

It is the faith of the Hyland family that remains at the centre of not just the work they do in their community but the reason why they have been chosen to represent Australian families. Being Catholic is something Shane and Leanne both see as a foundation of their way of life. 

'It helps us to raise our kids in a way that keeps us on track from the extremes of secuarlism and to the other extremes of strict orthodoxy. It enables us to still live in the world, but to know what is right from wrong', Shane says.

'It helps to know what real lofve is. To have faith in a loving God and to find peace within that. It means so much really', Leanne says. 'It's about being actively authentic. Behaving a way which follows Jesus' teachings as much as we can.'

The Hyland family (representative at the World meeting of families) relaxes on the beach at Jenny Dixon Reserve, Norah Head NSW. Photo: Giovanni Portelli/The Catholic Weekly.



Topic tags: familylife, healthycommunitylife, catholicsocialteaching

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