New Catholic ministry invites the whole family to grow in their faith and in community

Trinity House Community Group Credit: Soren Johnson/Trinity House Community

A new Catholic ministry aims to bring families together and bring a “taste of heaven” into their homes.

Trinity House Community Groups offer families formation, fellowship, and the tools needed to live out their faith and pass it on to their children. Parishes are able to create groups — also called “Heaven in Your Home Gatherings” — which invite not only parents but also kids to get together.

Soren and Ever Johnson, the founders and directors of Trinity House Community, spoke with CNA about how they created these fellowship groups and what they hope families will take away from them.

Soren Johnson explained that there are typically several obstacles preventing all-family gatherings at parishes: busy family schedules, overstretched parish budgets and staff, and the question of what a family can actually do as a “family event.”

“We launched the groups to enable families and parishes to not only surmount these obstacles but also to pass on the faith successfully to their children,” he said. “In today’s cultural climate, families need formation and support to be able to live out and pass on the faith. We started the groups to give busy families the help they need in a simple, attractive way that connects directly with their real-life situations.”

Credit: Soren Johnson/Trinity House Community
Credit: Soren Johnson/Trinity House Community

Each gathering follows the “Trinity House Model,” which is built around increasing communion as the group works through five levels of family life. These different levels are faith life, person and relationships, household economy, family culture, and hospitality and service.

These five levels of family life allow the family to become “an ever more radiant image of God — a communion of persons, the Most Holy Trinity — and their home a taste of heaven,” Soren added.

A parish that decides to subscribe and start a group receives all the resources it needs to host five all-family “Heaven in Your Home Gatherings” during the 2023-2024 school year. This includes video presentations, discussion questions, catechetical resources, and leader guides.

The gatherings take place every other month on a Saturday. The two-hour gathering starts with dinner. Then parents watch a video presentation followed by a discussion while the children watch faith-based videos for kids, make crafts, or play games. The evening ends with whole-group fellowship and dessert.

“Specific parish ministries to men, women, couples, young adults, and other groups are clearly important, but all too often, there is nothing available on a regular basis for the entire family,” Soren said. “With so many cultural forces seeking to weaken and isolate the family, it is all the more critical that parishes have regular opportunities on the calendar when entire families feel welcomed, supported, equipped, and encouraged.”

Credit: Soren Johnson/Trinity House Community
Credit: Soren Johnson/Trinity House Community

For the past two years, the “Heaven in Your Home Gatherings” have been tested and refined at the Johnsons’ home parish in Leesburg, Virginia. During that time, the couple has seen an “explosive spiritual return on investment,” and they’re hopeful that parishes across the country will experience the same fruitful outcomes.

“Parents routinely share with us that the specific strategies and tools they have learned at the Groups gatherings have led to breakthroughs in their confidence in spiritually leading their children heavenward and finding heaven in their home,” Ever Johnson said.

Couples have shared that thanks to the Groups gatherings, they’ve started preparing for and enjoying the Sabbath together as a family, renewing their date nights, doing chores together, prioritizing family meals, and hosting other families.

The Johnsons have even witnessed positive change in their own family. 

“Our five children have been regular participants in our parish’s Group, and like the other couple dozen kids who attend, have sometimes referred to it as the ‘church party,’” Ever recalled. “They look forward to the food, the high decibel level, and a chance to do fun activities while we’re down the hall with other parents, going deeper on a specific topic of faith and family life.”

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Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington has praised Trinity House Community, calling its work “one of the many blessings in the Diocese of Arlington.” 

Burbidge has taken an active role in the Trinity House Community Groups, writing the foreword to the participant workbook.

He wrote: “As Ever and Soren affirm in their ministry, the model of the Holy Trinity as a communion of persons should be reflected in our homes. God is one in three persons, a communion because of the total gift of each person to the other. Family is also a communion of persons. By learning about the way the persons of the Holy Trinity relate to one another, we can understand how a family should relate to one another.”

“Through a beautiful reflection on the icon of the Trinity, Ever and Soren explain how God’s life is one of welcoming, listening, and serving. As we reflect on who God is, these three features of his life become like guideposts on a map to ‘finding heaven in our homes!’”

Asked what he would tell families hesitant to join due to concerns of their children being too rowdy or disrupting the group, Soren said: “ You’re not alone! Relax and come join other loud, messy, and beautiful families!”

He added: “We’re all on this journey together, and as Pope Francis has said, ‘Perfect families do not exist.’ With that in mind, the goal of the Group gatherings is that families will find the gatherings informal, encouraging, inspiring, and even joyful. Couples enjoy the date-night feel of the focused time with other parents, while kids have fun with their peers. Strengthening relationships with other couples and families might just be the game-changer your family needs for the faith to come alive in your home.”

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