In Rome, CANA joins the 2500 participants in the World Meeting of Families (June 22-26) with the theme “Family Love: Vocation and Path to Holiness”. Here is a short diary of the 5 CANA delegates at the Pastoral Congress.

DAY 1 – Wednesday June 22: Launch!

Delegates from all over the world gathered in the late afternoon around Pope Francis for the launch of the 10th World Meeting of Families. Nearly 2500 people, among them, 5 CANA delegates: Guillaume & Sandrine Haudebourg, leaders of CANA France, Father Federico Bertacchini, member of the CANA Italy team, Karol & Basia Kowalczyk, from the CANA Poland team.

All participants prayed and listened to the poignant testimonies of 5 families. Each of them shared that family life is not always simple but that Christ comes to visit all situations. Deep testimonies of couples who have experienced infidelity, bereavement but also a family testifying to the joy of welcoming a Ukrainian family.

Pope Francis then drew on these testimonies to invite families to move forward step by step in following Jesus. This World Meeting of Families is an opportunity for the 5 CANA delegates to meet couples from all over the world.

DAY 2 – Thursday June 23

Thursday morning, the delegates at the Vatican saw the importance of the family in the Church and the importance of collaboration between families and priests.

They then attended a conference on intergenerational dialogue, including the importance of grandparents in families and the openness of families to the frailty of the elderly.

In the afternoon, they discussed the themes of taking into account and dealing with trials in family life: how to accompany them to overcome them. To remain faithful to the sacrament of marriage, even in abandonment and loneliness, is truly essential.

The challenge is to become fathers and mothers according to God’s heart. Finally, a more structured pastoral care is needed to accompany fathers and mothers in welcoming new life.

DAY 3 – Friday, June 24

On Friday, the delegates participated in two conferences: Identity and Mission of Christian Families and the Catechumenate of Marriage. As on the previous days, there were round tables. One of them had the theme “Being Christian in the Digital Age” and was presented by couples from France, Italy, the Netherlands and Brazil. They heard that the Internet is not just a tool, that it is an environment as real as the transfer of a salary to our accounts. Of particular note were the concrete proposals of Guillaume and Sandrine from the Chemin Neuf Community on how to reach families through new technologies.

During the afternoon conference, Gabriela Gambino and Giovanni Nuzzi pointed out that Christian marriage is no longer taken for granted in today’s society. Young people are marrying less and less. It is necessary to pray for vocations to marriage and to transmit the beauty of marriage to children. Our task is to proclaim the richness of marriage and the family. Testimonies of strong families are needed to accompany young people. They announced the recent publication of the text on the project of “Matrimonial Catechumenate”. The document published for the moment in Italian will be available in several other languages during the summer.

DAY 4 – Saturday, June 25

The last morning was dedicated to a reflection on the paths of holiness, to discernment in daily family life, to the accompaniment of couples in a new union, and when one of the spouses is unbelieving. The key to forgiveness closing this reflection was illustrated by a very touching testimony of a couple who lost three children in a car accident.

At the end of the afternoon, under a scorching sun, the world meeting and the Year of the Family Amoris Laetitia ended with a mass in St. Peter’s Square. The 2500 participants in the Pastoral Congress were joined by thousands of people, including many families with children and babies. The Pope, who arrived in a papamobile, was accompanied by children who were astonished by the number of people. He passed close to the CANA group and blessed them, a moving experience for many! In his homily he exhorted the families to joy and sent them on a mission: “Announce with joy the beauty of being a family! Announce to children and young people the grace of Christian marriage. Give hope to those who have none.”

Bishop Farrell, who presided over the ceremony, thanked the pope for all the work done around the theme of the family since the publication of Amoris Laetitia in March 2016 – and announced that the next World Meeting of Families will be held in 2028.

CANA in the news

Throughout this week journalists from various media interviewed CANA representatives and published articles in French and Italian.