I hear you ask, “What are you referring to, Teresa?”
It is the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome. It follows on from the “Amoris Laetitia Family” Year of 2021-22 in which Pope Francis expresses his deep affection and closeness to families. In his letter marking this special year of the family he writes:
We are being asked to apply to ourselves the calling that Abraham received from the Lord to set out from his land and his father’s home towards a foreign land that God himself would show him (cf.Gen12:1). We too have experienced uncertainty, loneliness, the loss of loved ones; we too have been forced to leave behind our certainties, our "comfort zones", our familiar ways of doing things and our ambitions, and to work for the welfare of our families and that of society as a whole, which also depends on us and our actions.
Our relationship with God shapes us, accompanies us and sends us forth as individuals and, ultimately, helps us to "set out from our land", albeit in many cases with a certain trepidation and even fear in the face of the unknown. Yet our Christian faith makes us realize that we are not alone, for God dwells in us, with us and among us: in our families, our neighbourhoods, our workplaces and schools, in the cities where we live.
…….I encourage you, dear married couples, to be active in the Church, especially in her pastoral care of families. "Shared responsibility for her mission demands that married couples and ordained ministers, especially bishops, cooperate in a fruitful manner in the care and custody of the domestic Churches". Never forget that the family is the "fundamental cell of society" (Evangelii Gaudium, 66). Marriage is an important part of the project of building the "culture of encounter" (Fratelli Tutti, 216). Families are thus called to bridge generations in passing on the values that forge true humanity. New creativity is needed, to express, amid today’s challenges, the values that constitute us as a people, both in our societies and in the Church, the People of God.
Of course, we will not be able to travel to Rome, and so each diocese across the globe is being asked to participate in this event, as the World Meeting is part of the current synodal journey of the Church, and can prove to be a valuable experience of “participation, communion and mission” of families.
A Pastoral Kit has been prepared to assist local churches plan for this event and this, along with other resources can be found on https://www.romefamily2022.com/en/
The theme is “Family love: vocation and a path to holiness”. It would be my hope that each parish of the diocese might begin to work towards how they could celebrate family life over these five days. Pastoral resources are available to assist you with your preparations. You might even imagine a parish “Family Week” which may possibly have participation from our schools, early education centres, CatholicCare or any other Catholic agency in the local area.
A Conference is planned to be held in Rome, with talks highlighting the treasures that exist in every family and that must be explored, so that they can be offered to the Church. I am mindful that on Sunday evenings at the Cathedral, many people come in family groups, and I find myself enjoying this celebration of family time and the passing on of our faith to children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I know when I go to our children and grandchildren on the Gold Coast and take some of the grandchildren to Mass, those around me smile, acknowledge me and the children, and express their pleasure in our being among them.
These are the titles given to each of the presentations in the Conference Program:
- The Domestic Church and Synodality
- Family Love: Wonderful and Fragile
- Identity and Mission of Christian Families
- Marriage Catechumenate
- Family as a Path of Holiness
The Catholic Church is looking to the Christian family to fully manifest the mystery of God’s love. I have no doubt that my vocational call to marriage along with being blest with children has formed and continues to form both Allen and me, and the place we have in our church and in society.
I believe the World Meeting of Families, and our response to be involved with it, may provide some families the opportunity to realise the vocation with which they have been gifted. The hope is to create a local web of families who take care of each other, who share their joys and also their concerns and difficulties. Some parishes still have Family Groups so that generations within the faith community can support and care for each other as a community of faith. In this time of dislocation, not everyone is blest to be close to their nuclear families and the bonds and support that they provide.
Raising children calls for an orderly process of handing on the faith. This is made difficult by current lifestyles, work schedules and the complexity of today’s world, where many people keep up a frenetic pace just to survive. Even so, the home must continue to be the place where we learn to appreciate the managing and beauty of faith. (Amoris Laetitia, 287)
We are being asked to gather families and to remind them of the treasure they are to each other, to our church and to society. It is in the family that we first learn about love, sharing and serving. I am convinced that if we are to renew our church and society we must look to our families.
I also invite you to go to the National Centre for Evangelisation (https://nce.catholic.org.au/) where you will find more resources to help you in the lead up to the World Meeting of Families. It is my hope that a small group of people in each parish may take up the invitation to create and plan an opportunity for families in the parish to be engaged and involved in this global event that Pope Francis has encouraged us to be part of.
I see this as part of our ongoing diocesan synodal journey that connects us to each other and the wider church. Please contact Brendon Mannyx on Brendon.firstname.lastname@example.org should you wish to seek out further information or assistance.
Thank you for considering this as a possibility to grow the life of your parish and its families.