Sunday, 19 August 2018

World Meeting of Families 2018: my highlights.

Reading the programme for the Pastoral Congress associated with the World Meeting of Families 2018, there are three things that attracted my attention as "highlights". The nature of the Congress is that it is not possible to get to everything because things happen simultaneously. If I were able to be at the World Meeting, the events below reflect things that I would particularly want to attend. I expect that I will also want to listen to the Family celebration on the Saturday evening, especially the family testimonies which are usually very moving.

The first is the involvement of members of the Focolare movement, and in particular Focolare's families movement, in a number of the panels/presentations. So, for example, a Focolare speaker is involved in a panel entitled "And the greatest is love: Pope Francis on 1 Cor 13" on the Wednesday. Representatives of the New Families Movement are part of a panel on Thursday: "The Joys and Challenges of Parenting Today". Also on Wednesday, a Focolare initiative in the field of economics ("Economy of Communion") is represented in one of the speakers, Professor Bruini, in a session entitled "The Family: A Resource for Society". And on Thursday, the movement is represented in a session entitled "Handing on the Faith between the Generations: The Role of Grandparents".

The second is the involvement of Aid to the Church in Need in two different sessions. On the Wednesday, as part of the evening programme, they are hosting a session entitled "The Family of Families: the experience of Catholic Families in Russia":
In this interactive workshop we listen to the stories of faith and family from Catholics in Russia, through the initiatives supported by the Pontifical Foundation, Aid to the Church in Need International.
They are also presenting a similar session "The Family of Families: the experience of Catholic Families in Africa" on the Thursday of the Congress.

And thirdly, Rocco Buttiglione is speaking on Thursday: "A Hidden Treasure: The Theology of the Body of Saint John Paul II". There can be few people who so effectively represent an authentic Catholic voice in the political and cultural field as does Rocco Buttiglione.

The relics of St Therese of Lisieux and her parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, are also on an extended visit to Ireland, and will be present at the World Meeting of Families. They will be present at the concluding Mass of the World Meeting. Remembering the impact of the visit of St Therese to the UK, this too will be another highlight - and perhaps one that we should not underestimate.

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