Parallel to the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome (June 22-26), CANA gathered its teams for its 10th International Meeting (June 20-26). Here is our logbook, a summary of the rich moments of each day of this week, which was truly exceptional, as one of the participants tells us: “I have just touched with my finger that I really belong to an international family and that all roads lead to Rome. I leave feeling strengthened and more determined than ever for the CANA mission. “
DAY 1 – Monday, June 20
At last the participants arrive, first the most distant, the African countries, then the Europeans drop by drop until very late in the evening. More than 70 people from 23 countries meet in the magnificent house belonging to the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny where the Chemin Neuf Community welcomes many visitors.
Sister Jacqueline Coutellier, co-founder of the CNC with Father Laurent Fabre, accompanied us at the beginning of the meeting and was kind enough to tell us how CANA is an extraordinary mission. She tells us about the beginnings of the Community’s mission to couples and families and underlines the audacity of Father Laurent Fabre in entrusting the leadership of these sessions to couples from the beginning. Forty years ago, this was a great innovation, a revolution!
In the crypt of the house, cleverly redesigned as a large meeting room, the reunion evening is convivial, festive, playful and full of joy. There was nothing like it to launch this international meeting. A bright start!
DAY 2 – Tuesday 21 June
The day started with joy. We sang and danced on a very cheerful rhythm guided by Oliva Mugisa from Uganda. Little by little, the prayer became more and more profound. It is amazing to understand each other and to pray together so easily!
Sister Marguerite Marie then presented the history of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny, which is spread throughout the world! Many CANA meetings have been made possible thanks to the welcome of the Sisters of Cluny, for example in India, in Guinea.
Monsignor Morandi, Italian archbishop, recently secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, exhorts the participants, with enthusiasm, to listen to the Triune God, to marvel and never lose the enchantment of the personal encounter with God and with others.
Each day, testimonies were given by the countries. In Chad (253 couples, 56 fraternities) the leaders give priority to a week of formation for the leaders of the fraternities to give CANA a real structure. In Uganda, with nearly 1800 couples and 500 fraternities, the question is rather: how to think big? For them the key is simplicity. CANA weeks are organized in schools during school vacations, with dormitories and accepting in-kind contributions.
In the afternoon, Jacqueline Coutellier exhorted the assembly to live the passion for unity, that of our family, of our different cultures, of our churches, of our alliance between couples and singles… She reminded them of the rules of discernment and accompaniment as well as the essential: as a couple, are we submitted to the Holy Spirit?
Between the training sessions, small groups were formed for multilingual and multi-country exchanges. The garden of the house and the terrace where a light breeze blows is an ideal meeting place.
At the end of the day, the evening prayer was full of fervor and dynamism. The leaders from Mauritius shared how they are successfully developing most of the numerous CANA proposals.
DAY 3 – Wednesday, June 22
Early in the morning, Guillaume & Sandrine Haudebourg leave with Father Federico Bertacchini for the Vatican News studio, where they participate live in the program “Je pense donc j’agis” of the French radio RCF. An hour of intense exchanges, very well received by the listeners!
Several countries where the situation is critical share the news. Marek and Monika Lechniak, who are in regular contact with the members of the CANA fraternity in Ukraine, observe that the love of the Lord is greater than war and that nothing can destroy what he has given!
In Lebanon, for Elian & Rita Ghaleb, the economic crisis is such that any shared joy becomes “increased joy” and any shared suffering becomes “less suffering”! In Poland, Andrzej and Ewa Dolny describe how CANA Welcome is developing very quickly in 70 parishes.
With passion, humor and vitality, Giuseppe Punzo and Stefania Spezzacatena, pastors of the Sabbaoth Evangelical Church in Milan, describe their call to train and evangelize young people and couples on sexuality and addictions (how pornography damages the hoop like drugs), thanks to the Purex program whose motto is “Purity is power”. Their mission: to announce to young people who think it is impossible, “that it is really possible to live a holy life in obedience and submission to the will of God. That it’s not boring, but rather that we can laugh, rejoice, that it’s good! We don’t know how to highlight Jesus; it’s about speaking the language of young people. They are asking for it!” A direct, strong and joyful word!
At the heart of this CANA meeting, the day ends with a touching evening of reconciliation.
DAY 4 – Thursday, June 23
The participants were able to experience a day of pilgrimage in Rome. Each one was free to visit the city at his or her own pace, following a suggested itinerary… and to taste the Italian specialties…
Near the Lateran, in the heart of the Pontifical Seminary of Rome, the private visit of the magnificent chapel which has just been decorated by Father Rupnik impressed all the participants by the depth of the symbols expressed in these images. Including the one of the CANA wedding chosen to illustrate the World Meeting of Families.
In St. Peter’s Square, Sister Sonia Béranger, who has been in Rome for five years, shared her knowledge of the history of the Church, which is not only embodied in the Renaissance architecture so visible today. She invited us to go back to the Roman period to revisit our common history, in an ecumenical pilgrimage. The day was also marked by the presence of KTO TV (French Catholic television channel) at the 6:30 p.m. mass, sung in several languages. An interview with the national leaders of CANA Lebanon and CANA France was conducted in the beautiful garden of the House of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny. In the evening, a good time of fraternity was held which allowed everyone to exchange on a “Here and Now”.
DAY 5 – Friday June 24
After the morning review, Gilles and Véronique, inspired by the painting of the Call of Matthew by Caravaggio developed the 10 fundamental points of the CANA mission. This was followed by the testimony of a couple on the formation of fraternity leaders in the Czech Republic. The afternoon was marked by a workshop animated by a couple on communication in the couple based on the Imago method, followed by a reflection on how to welcome couples in difficulty. Sister Lysanne, with her experience in Jerusalem and her training at the Cardinal-Bea Center at the Gregorian, introduced the daily Jewish prayer. A time of prayer in connection with the Jews was then shared. The last evening of the week was dedicated to the international feast, the participants arrived in traditional clothes and the buffet was composed of many local specialties from all over the world… a treat! Games, songs and dances were part of the event, making it a convivial and unforgettable evening.
DAY 6 – Saturday June 25
On Saturday, the last day of our meeting, Sister Audrey gave a teaching on the meaning and importance of sharing in the Christian life. The training on communication was accompanied by two practical workshops where the participants were actively involved.
Like a bouquet of flowers offered to the Lord, the final review showed how essential this meeting was to experience that CANA is truly an international fellowship. To close our CANA International meeting, we went to join the thousands of people gathered around the Pope in St. Peter’s Square. In his homily, Pope Francis sent families 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 at the Mass, thanked him for all the work done in recent years around the family and cited 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.
Other participants speak about this meeting
- When I see our differences in culture, I feel that we have been educated together… I am amazed by the love of God!
- I am so happy to be with you, to belong to the big CANA family. Hearing all that you overcome, I don’t feel alone anymore.
- This week, we have been experiencing life as if in a dream!
- The Lord does not ask me to be extraordinary, but only docile.
- I have received the grace of visitation, of the joy of the encounter that opens our hearts wide and makes us universal brothers and sisters.
- Entering St. Peter’s Basilica was like entering heaven!
The media speaks about it
Throughout this week, journalists from different media interviewed CANA representatives. French speakers can find all these interviews.
Here are the different links: