It is hard to believe that a month ago Sr. Rita and I were participating in the IX World Meeting of Families (WMOF 25-26 August 2018) in Dublin. However, time flies and the event is over but our memories are still fresh and full of joy. And we would like to share some of them with you.
First, some words to explain what the WMOF is about. This international event brings together families from across the world to celebrate, pray and reflect upon the central importance of marriage and the family as the cornerstone of our lives, of the Church and of society. It is held every three years in different parts of the world.
This time Ireland has been chosen by Pope Francis to host the World Meeting of Families from 21-26 August 2018. The event was guided by the theme “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”.
The event had the following key moments: three days of the Pastoral Congress, a Festival of Families and a solemn Eucharistic Celebration. The World Meeting of Families focused on the key issues related to family drawn from Pope Francis’ teachings in The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia).
During three days of the Congress there were a variety of keynote speakers from over the world, workshops and discussions; exhibitions, art and cultural activities, daily celebration of the Eucharist, liturgical and prayerful activities. Each day focused one theme: Wednesday- ‘The family and Faith’, Thursday- ‘The Family and Love’ and Friday- ‘The Family and Hope’.
All the talks we participated, were very inspirational and it gave us some new insights about the life of family, value that matters and first showed us how beautiful and precious is a gift of family, our family.
The Festival of Families, gathered people to celebrate the gift of family through a cultural celebration of music, dance, song, and stories and testimonies given by families from different parts of the world.
The World Meeting of the Families concluded with a Solemn Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in thanksgiving to God for the gift of family.
These five days in Dublin were such an enjoyable experience and we feel very enriched. The encounter with other participants and people we met on the streets made us rich and blessed.
It was a great privilege to be a part of that wonderful and heart lifting up experience. It was not only another event, but it was a celebration of joy and building up our relationship with God through his Church, as Pope Francis said during a festival of Families “It is good to celebrate, for celebration makes us more human and more Christian. It also helps us to share the joy of knowing that Jesus loves us, he accompanies us on our journey of life, and each day he draws us closer to himself. Today in Dublin we are gathered for a family celebration of thanksgiving to God for who we are: one family in Christ, spread throughout the world.”
WMOF was the invitation to share a meal and faith with one big Family – the Church and those who are maybe in the beginning of their faith journey. The icon for WOMF mirrored this perfectly. It was a time to learn how to be a family in which we rejoice with those who are rejoicing, and weep with those who grieve or feel knocked down by life. A family in which we care for everyone.
Pope Francis encouraged us and invite every family to be a beacon of the joy of God’s love in the world. And he explained what it means. He said: “It means that we, who have encountered God’s saving love, try, with or without words, to express it in little acts of kindness in our daily routine and in the most hidden moments of our day.” Pope Francis reminded us that we all need to learn again and again these three words: “sorry”, “please” and “thank you”.
We encourage you to visit WMOF’s website to read or even watch Pope Francis speeches www.worldmeeting2018.ie/en/ and to find out more about the event.
Let us pray together for our families and those who ask us for a prayer, using the official prayer for WMOF 2018.
God, our Father,
We are brothers and sisters in Jesus your Son,
One family, in the Spirit of your love.
Bless us with the joy of love.
Make us patient and kind,
gentle and generous,
welcoming to those in need.
Help us to live your forgiveness and peace.
Protect all families with your loving care,
Especially those for whom we now pray.
Increase our faith,
Strengthen our hope,
Keep us safe in your love,
Make us always grateful for the gift of life that we share.
This we ask, through Christ our Lord, Amen
Mary, mother and guide, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, father and protector, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, pray for us.
Sr. Margaret Kozub and Sr. Rita Apura