A team of “Net for God” accompanied CANA to the World Meeting of Families to prepare a film about the couple and the family, and Sister Paulina Pasternak shares her impressions.

22 couples from 15 countries: similar challenges…

Flying from Lyon with its 30° of August heat and landing in Ireland with 18°, wind, clouds and small rains, promised to be beneficial! The warm welcome of our Irish brothers made up for the unexpected weather. The nature was indeed green and the air refreshing. In these conditions, the filming was going to be very pleasant, even if an umbrella was essential!

We went there to meet couples from all over the world to gather their testimonies, hear church personalities, film the Family Festival, and finally participate in the vigil and the final Mass with Pope Francis. We were able to record 22 testimonies from couples of 15 different nationalities: they shared with us what are the benefits of CANA in their life of couple and family. Despite the differences in cultural context, the difficulties encountered – such as the education of children, the unity of the couple, the unity with in-laws, the conflict between work and family life – these are the same challenges that emerge from these interviews…

Fraternity: on the same wavelength

It is not easy to find yourself with strangers and become brothers and sisters in 3 days. Yet with Jesus in the centre, this miracle was possible. From the beginning, I noticed that the CANA team – including Christophe, Gilles, Véronique and Audrey – has a privileged link with the couples of the country leaders. Very quickly, they are on the same wavelength with the group, through prayer and teaching times, to which are regularly added the 15-minute walk between the restaurant and the “Aula Maxima”, our place of worship gathering. All this favoured the encounters between participants.

The opening to the other

I was very touched when a 35-year-old woman testified that after 12 years as a wife and mother, she did not dare to speak in public at the CANA Week. But in Dublin I saw her go to meet people who did not speak her language. Although she could not communicate verbally, she had relationships with looks and gestures full of tenderness and love. I tell myself that the Holy Spirit has made an opening unimaginable before and I have given glory to God.

Many couples were discovering other languages ​​and other cultures.

The three days of the Pastoral Congress

The à la carte conferences were a great opportunity to be close to pastors, bishops and cardinals from all over the world. The round tables, or the interventions of the couples, illustrated to what extent the message of Amoris Laetitia is known and embodied in families.

I had the chance to meet friends from Australia. Anna and Josh, who is a permanent deacon, came with their 4 children. We were able to accompany them, without the camera, to specific activities for children and teens: in this case, a concert of “KisiKids, God’s singing kids”* and a paint workshop.

In fact, our “Media Pass” did not facilitate access, because the organisers took many precautions for the protection of children. And in Ireland it goes without saying. Anna and Josh shared with us their joy at participating in the event, as the World Youth Day (WYD) which they experienced when they were younger. There the Gospel is proclaimed in various forms and fun. “It’s like a box, full of gifts. Well after the event, there are always good ideas.”

What distinguishes the World Meeting of Families from the WYD is the family placed at the centre, with its special needs, such as family meals. During the Congress, the lunchtime pose was the perfect time to get together, have a picnic on the lawn, talk about the morning activities of adults and children, and of course play together at will. After these times of relaxation, the mass at 4 pm at the stadium was not a chore…

Final weekend with the Pope, as a grandfather

For my part, I find that in the attitude of Pope Francis vis-à-vis the family there is a lot of simplicity and tenderness, as coming from a grandfather. “Nobody says it’s easy, you know it better than me. Yet it’s like making tea: it’s easy to boil water, but a good cup of tea takes time and patience; you have to let the tea infuse! So day after day, Jesus warms us with his love by making Him penetrate our whole being.”

He wanted us to repeat after him the basis of all family life, which is nothing but THANK YOU, PLEASE and PARDON. He urged us to be kind and sincere, and to use simple gestures full of love, not to remain with a grudge, but rather to knock on the door and ask for forgiveness…

The challenges of the Internet and social networks are not unknown to the Pope. As a remedy for the disposable culture, he reiterated the importance of inter-generational families, the influence of the presence of the elders in the healthy development of the younger generations, who transmit something other than the anonymity of the Net…

In short, with the release of Amoris Laetitia we had already met a man who knows the reality and challenges of families today. There, he confirmed to us that the Church does not set the bar very high to begin with, but takes each one where he/she is, and calls to walk and grow by following Christ to live the joy of the Gospel in our world.

A Net For God film in project

In the coming months, we will be doing a 30-minute film on “How to help couples experience the joy of love in families,” and what tools the CANA mission proposes to respond to the challenges that families face in their lives in today’s world: the education of children, tenderness and happy sexuality in Christian marriage, unity and reconciliation between work and family life. Because, in the final analysis, “to love” is not obvious; because “to love” is a learning process.

*KisiKids : God’s singing kids

KisiKids and CANA know each other well, especially in the Netherlands, where Kisi Nederland celebrates its 10th birthday on September 29th and 30th with a show “Yes, Jesus loves me”. During the Dutch CANA Week, the children’s programme is regularly run by KisiKids alongside the adult programme. At the end of the week the children offer a magnificent evangelistic performance.

Kisi presents itself as follows:

“We are an international movement – more like a big family, consisting of children, teenagers and adults. We spread the gospel through songs and musicals. Together we discover God, explore and develop our talents and experience authentic fellowship. Our desire is to seek and follow Jesus every day. We are a catholic movement, with an ecumenical mission.”

Sister Paulina Pasternak, Chemin Neuf Community