October 2, 2015

Archdiocesan pilgrims attending World Meeting of Families reflect on its impact

Msgr. William Stumpf, archdiocesan vicar general, gives Communion to Samantha McGuire, a member of St. Martin of Tours Parish in Martinsville, during a Sept. 25 Mass in the upper church of St. John the Evangelist Church in Philadelphia. Preparing to receive Communion next is McGuire’s son, Joseph. They were among 46 Catholics from central and southern Indiana who participated in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia from Sept. 22-25. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Msgr. William Stumpf, archdiocesan vicar general, gives Communion to Samantha McGuire, a member of St. Martin of Tours Parish in Martinsville, during a Sept. 25 Mass in the upper church of St. John the Evangelist Church in Philadelphia. Preparing to receive Communion next is McGuire’s son, Joseph. They were among 46 Catholics from central and southern Indiana who participated in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia from Sept. 22-25. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

PHILADELPHIA—In remarks made at the end of the closing Mass of the eighth World Meeting of Families on Sept. 27, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council on the Family, which helped organize the event, called on the meeting’s 20,000 attendees “to light the fire of love in all the families of the world.”

Pilgrims from across central and southern Indiana were inspired to do just that by the many keynote addresses and homilies they heard during the meeting and the breakout sessions they attended on Sept. 22-25.

They heard bishops and cardinals from around the world, speakers who have a wide variety of experiences of family life, and experts on the family.

Sally Stovall, a member of Holy Angels Parish in Indianapolis who was born in Nigeria and later emigrated to the United States, was excited by her experience of the meeting.

“It’s all about the family that works together and prays together stays together,” she said. “I’ll carry that with me. Love is our mission. That’s what we are here for.”

Deacon Patrick Bower, who ministers at St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis, was impressed by how Catholics from more than 100 countries came to the meeting, the best attended in the history of the World Meeting of Families.

“I think the biggest impression was the people from all around the world, and the love,” he said. “How refreshing it was to hear people talk about the importance of the family and the domestic Church, and seeing it everywhere you turn.”

Something that challenged Deacon Bower, however, was seeing many homeless people in Philadelphia when he and other pilgrims would leave the city’s convention center.

“How far we have to go,” he said. “Where do you begin with these people? How do you help them? How do you lead them out? There’s a lot to do.”

Juan Carlos Ramirez, a deacon candidate and member of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, said he gained a renewed perspective at the meeting on his own ministry to people in need and all people.

“It’s not about us,” Ramirez said. “It’s about bringing people, including ourselves, to God. That really is the way that I want to see my ministry going on.”

Scott Seibert, marriage and family enrichment coordinator for the archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life and Family Life, said the meeting inspired him to see how he can help more families across the archdiocese help people in need.

“I hope to do more to focus on mercy ministry, how we can support families in going out together to the periphery,” he said. “How can families, even with young children, go out and serve others? That’s something that I’m continuing to pray about, and hopefully find some direction with.”

While adults at the World Meeting of Families heard many keynote addresses and attended breakout sessions, children and youths attended a youth congress in the convention center with speakers, musicians, activities and service projects geared just for them.

“We heard a lot of things about true love, vocations and trying to figure out who you are in life,” said Joseph McGuire, 16, a member of St. Martin of Tours Parish in Martinsville. “It was really powerful. We had sisters and priests who talked, and married and single people. There were lots of different perspectives on how to see our vocation.”

Caleb Moster, 16, a member of St. Louis Parish in Batesville, hoped that what he experienced at the World Meeting of Families would help him be a better witness of the faith back in Indiana.

“I’m going to try to apply graces more to my life and focus harder on the grace of love,” said Caleb. “I think it’s going to help to turn me into a more selfless person, and help me behave and treat others in hopefully a good way. Hopefully that will reflect on the Catholic faith well and bring others closer to God.”

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin celebrated Mass with the pilgrims from central and southern Indiana on Sept. 25, and later had dinner with them.

“I just want to thank you,” he told them during the meal. “I can’t imagine all of the sacrifices that you’ve made to be part of this. I’m really proud that you’re here.

“And I think that your presence is going to be a blessing for your families, but also for the archdiocese. Somehow, you’re all going to return to [it] with a gift. And I’m not talking about T-shirts.”
 

(For more coverage of the archdiocesan pilgrimage to the World Meeting of Families and the papal visit, including photo galleries and links to blog posts, visit www.archindy.org/wmof.)

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