World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit

Catholic Standard – Guyana – October 9, 2015

Chris and Angie Sukhai – Family and Life Commission

The 8th World Meeting of Families 2015 was held in Philadelphia, the city of “Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection”, under the Theme “Love is Our Mission: the Family Fully Alive”. His Lordship Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB along with Chris and Angie Sukhai represented our Diocese. This event had representatives from all the continents with more than one hundred countries represented. It was deemed the biggest ever.

All meetings were held in the Pennsylvania Convention Centre and as the name suggests, the entire family was catered for, as happening simultaneously, was the Youth Conference for the Children who were in attendance.

The World Meeting of Families was officially opened on the 22nd September with welcome addresses by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, and President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Tom Wolf, Governor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter and the Mayor of Philadelphia among others. There were musical renditions by choirs of different schools and parishes of Philadelphia.

After the opening, there were a number of keynote addresses and Breakout Sessions over the next few days. Some of the keynote speakers were Bishop Robert Barron, Cardinal Robert Sarah, and Professor Helen Alves and other distinguished persons. They gave very powerful talks on a variety of topics such as: “Living in The Image of God”, “Light in a Dark World” and many other relevant topics. Breakout sessions were held immediately after each keynote address where we were given the option to listen to our favorite speakers based on his or her topic. There were speakers such as Dr. John S. Gabrowski, Dr. Scot Hahn, and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle. The latter was found to be very humorous so we grabbed the opportunity to listen to him in one of the breakout sessions.

There were many other dynamic speakers and we were very privileged to have been a part of these talks. These keynote addresses and breakouts were delivered in different languages with interpretation as needed for the audience. Speeches. Sign language interpreters were also functioning.

There were Masses held before each session in the morning, but we opted to worship at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul which was just a few minutes from our hotel.

There was also an exhibition site in the Convention Centre which saw many exhibitors showcasing their products and the work they do in the different parishes. The World Meeting of Families came to a close on Friday Sept, 2015, however the highpoint of this event was the much anticipated Papal visit to the US, more so, Philadelphia. The Holy Father graced Philadelphia on Saturday, 26th September, at 09:30 hrs. His schedule was a tight one as he said Mass at 10:30 hrs at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. He then made an address at the Independence Mall after which he graced the Festival of Families but not be-fore the Papal parade through the streets leading to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Festival of Families saw performances from renowned artistes like Aretha Franklin among others.

On Sunday the Holy Father met with Inter-national Bishops at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. He then visited the Curran- Fromhold Correctional Facility. After this he was in another parade through the Benjamin Franklin Parkway where a crowd of 860,000 faithful were gathered to have a glimpse of him and to hear him at Mass at 16:00 hrs. We were very honoured to have seen him at different points, it was indeed a memorable experience. The crowd was very patient and welcoming, the atmosphere was one of peace, love and joy. People from all walks of life were gathered in one setting. Some thought of entertaining themselves and others while waiting many hours to see this loving and gracious leader.

Our stay in Philadelphia was a wonderful one. We sincerely thank his Lordship Bishop Francis Alleyne O.S.B, Father John Persaud, the Family and Life Commission, the Organizers of the World Meeting of Families for making it possible for us to be part of this memorable event.

The next World Meeting of Families will be held in Dublin Ireland in 2018.