SAN DIEGO — Want a stronger, more faith-filled family? There’s an app for that!
CatholicHOM, which stands for “Catholic Households on Mission,” is the brainchild of Dr. Greg Popcak, a professional pastoral counselor, and his wife, Lisa, a certified family life coach. They launched it last July.
“Catholicism has such a beautiful and rich vision for family life. … We developed the CatholicHOM app to put faithful, effective help and resources – literally – in the back pocket of every Catholic parent who is looking for help in creating a happier, healthier, holier family life,” Greg Popcak said.
Through the app, which is free to download at the Apple App Store and Google Play, families can take a Domestic Church Blueprint Quiz that identifies their strengths and areas for growth and recommends a series of action steps. They will also gain access to a variety of resources, including downloadable games, activities and discussion questions.
The Popcaks, who are co-directors of the Peyton Institute for Domestic Church Life, have three major goals with their app.
Despite the existence of different types of households, Greg Popcak said, “there are certain practices that help all families flourish.”
“We would argue that God built these practices into His design of the human family at the beginning of creation,” he said, explaining that these serve as the basis for the CatholicHOM framework.
The second goal is to offer an approach to Catholic spirituality that’s compatible with family life.
“Most of what we think of as ‘Catholic spirituality’ is drawn from the clerical and monastic traditions,” said Lisa Popcak, who explained that these approaches are “beautiful” but busy families don’t have the time to put them into practice.
“The CatholicHOM app promotes an authentic model of Catholic spirituality that is firmly rooted in the lived experience of families,” she said. “We show families how to encounter Christ more meaningfully in the way they relate to each other; in the way they work, play, talk and pray together; and in the ways they care for each other and the people they interact with in their communities.”
The third goal is to correct the mistaken belief that it’s the parish that’s the center of Catholic life.
“That’s actually the exact opposite of what the Catholic theology of the Church says it’s supposed to be,” said Greg. “In reality, parishes are supposed to exist to form ‘domestic Churches’ – Catholic families who are capable of being outposts of grace in a hurting world.”
Lisa pointed out a link between family life and evangelization.
“We don’t evangelize people by quoting Bible verses and lines from the Catechism, and we don’t evangelize people just by going to Church on Sunday,” she said. “Those things are an important part of the Christian walk, but people’s hearts are won for Christ because they see His love and grace making a practical difference in the quality of our relationships — especially our marriage and family lives.”
John Prust, director of the diocesan Office for Family Life and Spirituality, became familiar with the Popcaks’ work about two years ago, when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered parish churches and gave his office renewed motivation to promote the concept of the domestic Church. He attended a series of webinars led by the Popcaks for directors of family life ministry, and he has been a fan of CatholicHOM since its recent debut.
Prust explained that those who don’t have “the traditional nuclear family” often have the sense that “family life (ministry) doesn’t apply to us.” But that’s simply not true.
He said he loves the Popcaks’ “very inclusive” definition of “domestic Church” as “a household of persons united to God and each other through the sacramental life of the Church and committed to living out the Christian, Trinitarian vision of love in their relationships with each other and the world.”
“There are so many wonderful resources out there to help families grow as domestic Churches, and I think (CatholicHOM) is a great one,” said Prust. “Just the way it breaks down what we should be striving for can be really helpful. It helps families … become aware of their strengths, challenge areas, and how they can grow.”