The tenth World Meeting of Families (WMF) celebrating family life took place from June 22-26, 2022. Its theme: "Family Love: A Vocation and a Path to Holiness"
Held every three years in a different city across the world each time, the WMF was originally launched in 1994 by Pope St John Paul II. That year was declared ‘International Year of the Family’ by the United Nations. Although centred on Rome, the main focus of WMF 2022 was on dioceses around the world, each with their own 'Rome@Home' programme of local events taking place in parishes across the globe. Here in Southwark diocese, individual deaneries and parishes were invited to organise their own family-orientated events and celebrations to mark WMF 2022. See below...
"The family, which is founded and given life by love, is a community of persons." (Familiaris Consortio 18) Saint Pope John Paul II.
This summer (2022) we were all invited spiritually to gather as a world family in Christ to celebrate the joy, love, and glory that is the vocation of family life through the World Meeting of Families, June 22-26.
At past WMF meetings most families stayed at home with the meeting perceived as being something remote, at most followed on television, and unknown to the majority of families. This time WMF had a special format with an opportunity provided by providence to create a worldwide event that could involve all families that would like to feel part of the ecclesial community.
Under the title 'Rome at Home' we had and still have the opportunity of developing ways to celebrate the gift of family life, not just during the WMF dates in June but throughout the rest of 2022.
In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis speaks about the importance of parish life. He refers to Saint Pope John Paul II's description of a parish as "the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters" (Christifideles Laici,26). We are encouraged and strengthened through our community, while we are formed by the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis highlights that a parish is called to be the presence of the Church in a community, providing a place where people can hear God's word, grow in discipleship, and extend themselves in love to the poor and needy, bringing families together – a place where we can pray, worship, and celebrate together. (Amorim Laetitia 87,88).
In a 2005 address, Pope Benedict XVI described the parish as an extended family that "brings together brothers and sisters who have no desire for power or selfish interests, but who live in the joy of the charity of God, who is love." It is when we come together at Mass, as a community in Christ, that we see the great variety of families who make up our extended parish family.
It is a special joy when we see young families taking part in the Mass and engaged in the life of the parish. When the babies are crying, or fidgety children are making a noise; these are all signs that the Church is young and alive; a community of young families, mature families, extended families, young and old together.
The whole World Meeting of Families project offers a great opportunity to remember and help and support those families who have fallen away from their practice of the faith during the pandemic for whatever reason.
What better way to celebrate the joy of family life than to embrace the opportunity that is this year's World Meeting of Families, inviting everyone back home to Mother Church to celebrate just as the Father does with the return of the Prodigal Son.
Ways to get involved
Here are some suggestions for parishes and deaneries to celebrate family.
- Each family to be given a card upon which they can write the names of their families, with the cards then posted in a box that sits in the sanctuary.
- A Mass celebrated for all those families mentioned in the cards in the sanctuary box.
- Hold a parish picnic to celebrate the joy of family life. Pope Francis delivered a message on that theme during the Angelus on June 26.
- Use one of the recordings from the Theological Congress to promote discussion with the parish team about the ongoing development of family ministry. The recordings can be found here: romefamily2022.com
Building up and supporting families didn't have to stop after June 26! The Southwark diocesan Marriage and Family Life Team are here to support you. Please contact us on any of the following email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org Or look on the diocesan website for more information: https://www.rcsouthwark.co.uk
CELEBRATE Prayer Stations for all the Family
These Prayer Stations have been created by the CELEBRATE family ministry as a response to the World Meeting of Families. The Prayer Stations can be used at any time of the year, although they were specifically created for the World Meeting of Families.
The CELEBRATE Prayer Stations were developed primarily for children to be accompanied by a mix of parents/carers, grandparents, catechists and parishioners, to travel together in small groups from station to station to create an interactive prayer journey.
The content is based on Scripture and Church teaching on the family echoing some of the themes from the WMF documents. They were developed to be as engaging and inclusive as possible and provide discovery and formation elements to evangelise and catechise and help build family and church community.
Do take a look and consider whether they can be part of your parish and and diocesan activities. They are free to download but are not free to produce so CELEBRATE would be very grateful for a donation if they are used.
New National School Assembly 'Celebrating Family Love'
We are very excited to be able to offer you a fantastic new resource to help you celebrate the family. We have worked alongside storytelling agency Ministory, to bring you a dynamic and exciting assembly to use in your school. Both primary and secondary versions of the assembly are available.
These animated video assemblies include a range of guest speakers, reflections and prayers, and will be the perfect resource to use with your students to help them think about and reflect on the theme of family love.
We have also produced a free resource pack to help with your celebrations. This pack includes a range of materials, ideas and resources to help with your school to celebrate the family. The ‘Celebrating Family Love’ Assembly is available to view and download at www.catholiceducation.co.uk
For more information, please contact me, Joanne White (email@example.com), so that I can help you in any way that I can.