September 11, 2015

Religious Education Supplement

World Meeting of Families’ pilgrims hope to share Church’s vision for family life

By Sean Gallagher

Doug and Julie Bauman describe themselves as “opportunity getters.” So when the couple heard last fall about an archdiocesan-sponsored pilgrimage to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families that will take place later this month, they jumped at the chance to go.

“We reach out for ways to enrich our lives,” Julie said.

“Life is too short not to jump out and reach,” added Doug.

Through their 14 years of marriage, in which they have been blessed with three daughters, the Baumans have also sought ways to enrich the lives of others with the faith that serves as their foundation.

Both are teachers at St. Barnabas School in Indianapolis. They help engaged couples prepare for marriage at St. Barnabas Parish, where they are members. And Doug assists in the parish’s confirmation preparation program.

They will join other pilgrims from across central and southern Indiana, who hope that their participation in the World Meeting of Families will help them share the good news about the Church’s vision of marriage and family life where they live. (Related: Ten themes shape the message of the World Meeting of Families)

“It’s a chance to hopefully learn some ideas and strategies on how to strengthen the family, because it’s at the core of who we are as a couple and as a Church,” Doug said. “Family is everything. We saw this as an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really dig deep and think about what truly are the values that make a family strong.”

Scott Seibert, marriage and family enrichment coordinator for the archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life and Family Life, said that potential pilgrims had to describe in their application for the pilgrimage how they would share what they learned at the World Meeting of Families with other people when they returned.

He was impressed by the pilgrims’ hopes and plans for spreading the Church’s message on marriage and family life.

“I think their creativity is incredible,” Seibert said. “Each one has his or her own unique way of bringing this to other families and reaching out to other people. It’s inspiring.”

While the Baumans see a broad array of ways they can share what they will learn in Philadelphia, Julie knows that it will be based on how the pilgrimage strengthens their marriage.

“Anything that you can do to add to it and make it better in any aspect of your life is going to be a benefit, not only to us, but to our family, our students and our community,” Julie said. “It will trickle down from there.”

Simmona Woodson, a member of St. Rita Parish in Indianapolis, will also be on the archdiocesan pilgrimage. She hopes that it will help her and her two children be more open to sharing the faith with the broader community.

She said she felt comfortable doing this in the past, but finds it more challenging in today’s cultural climate.

“We were all a family,” said Woodson of the neighborhood in which she grew up. “I have a humanitarian side from my mom. I would take other kids to church with me, and sometimes talk to their parents about it, and attend their churches with them.”

Now the single mother feels differently about sharing her faith.

“We all tend to be guarded about our spirituality,” said Woodson. “My children and I may wait for someone else to bring it up. In addition to us becoming closer to our faith [through the pilgrimage], hopefully we’ll be able to spread it around more.”

She is also looking forward to meeting families from around the world in Philadelphia and worshipping with Pope Francis at a Mass on Sept. 27 that organizers expect to draw more than 1 million people.

“I think it’s so important to celebrate our differences, especially at times like this with everything that’s going on, and to learn and really [be in] fellowship and pray with each other,” Woodson said.

Woodson and the Baumans are looking forward to how they can share what they learn at the World Meeting of Families once they return home.

David Dellacca hopes to do this while he is in Philadelphia through social media.

The vice president of technology at Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis, Dellacca will travel to Philadelphia with his wife DeInda, their three children and a fourth that they expect to be born in a couple of months.

“Ultimately, especially with us taking our family, we are just trying to walk the walk and talk the talk at the same time to some degree, looking at the way that our society puts a lot of other things above direct family relationships,” said Dellacca, who, along with his family, is a member of St. Michael Parish in Greenfield. “Family is really important in its relationship with God, both individually and as a unit.”

He hopes that he and his family will be able to discuss in Philadelphia what they have learned from the various keynote addresses and breakout sessions at the World Meeting of Families.

Those discussions, he said, “could be a launch point through which I could share some ideas and thoughts through social media.”

He plans on sharing his thoughts on a blog at and on Twitter @ddellacca.

Whether it’s in parish or school settings, in neighborhood relationships or on social media, Seibert foresees the pilgrims, with their own experiences of marriage and family, helping each other grow in their knowledge and love of the Church’s vision for both and their desire to share it with others.

“I hope that through this learning, this time together and sharing their stories and listening to one another over these eight days,” Seibert said, “that they’ll be able to see that we’re not alone, and we all have struggles, and God is alive in all of it.” †

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