Lunch with the Pope a highlight of World Meeting of Families in Milan
|Cardinal Pell introduces the Holy Father to Stuart Green and his wife, Donna, and their children Anna and Jack. Photo Service - L'Osservatore Romano (2012).|
Catholic Outlook, July 2012
More than 60 Australians representing the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, dioceses and Church agencies attended the 7th World Meeting of Families in Milan last month.
A group of 48 diocesan delegates travelled to the meeting, led by Most Rev Terry Brady, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, and Ron and Mavis Pirola, who chair the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council.
The Diocese of Parramatta was represented by Stuart and Donna Green and two of their children, Jack, a seminarian at Parramatta’s Holy Spirit Seminary, and his sister, Anna.
Also attending from our Diocese was Ann O’Brien, Senior Manager with CatholicCare Social Services Parramatta, and her husband, Peter. Ann was interviewed by Vatican Radio during the meeting.
The Green family was chosen to share lunch with the Holy Father following the Papal Mass. Representing families from Oceania and just 14 other families with a small group that included Cardinal Pell, they were whisked by police escort to the Cardinal of Milan's residence.
Stuart said it was the first time he had had a police escort to lunch. Donna said that she felt very touched by the opportunity to be in the presence of the Pope. When he met with them individually he smiled and gave her hand a squeeze.
Jack proudly displayed the hand-written menu embossed with the papal insignia and Anna was referred to as ‘Sr Anna’ once the Holy Father was informed that Jack was a seminarian. No pressure!
|Ann O’Brien, Senior Manager with CatholicCare Social Services Parramatta, was interviewed by Mario Galgano from Vatican Radio.|
Ann O’Brien posted daily reports on the Diocese of Parramatta blog, including these highlights:
A special highlight was the gathering with the Pope in the Duomo. We finally managed to get into our reserved space, with 3000 other participants. The atmosphere was electric and filled with anticipation.
It was hot and crowded but you got a real sense of the great love so many people have for the Holy Father.
On 2 June there was a Mass for the Australian pilgrims and participants in the historic church of St Maria Presso St Satrio. Cardinal Pell presided and Bishop Terry Brady concelebrated. It was wonderful to have a Mass in English with music and hymns we could sing.
Bishop Terry gave an inspiring homily, drawing together the essential messages of the meeting and the great hope and blessings of family life.
Earlier, Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston gave a lecture that highlighted the importance of family. All the information, values and examples we need are embedded in the Word of God and the teachings of the Church.
His basic message was that as Catholics we must be disciples and be instrumental in bringing our children up in the faith and not leave this to the school or the parish.
He also emphasised that parish life needed to be invigorated and be much more a part of each Catholic family's life. Recent research has shown that the example of a father practising and living his faith is now gaining much more influence on the faith development of children.
Another session focused on support for families affected by separation and divorce. This reminded me especially of the importance of our Solo Parent Ministry and the great work of Sr Eileen Quade RSM and her volunteers and co-workers.
Prof Nuria Cinchilla presented recent research on the importance of creating not only ‘family friendly’ but ‘family proactive’ workplaces to benefit the worker, the company and society.
He said the evidence was compelling that work must not take over the life of the individual and become such a burden that it takes away from family participation.
Workplaces that embrace practices that are family proactive find employees have a vocation, not just a job, and are more productive, more creative and healthier.
Other speakers gave examples of practices in their companies (big and small workplaces) that embrace the family situations of the employees and which have benefited all.
The speakers insisted that government, companies, individuals and other sectors of society must change the way work and family are seen today to reduce the crises presently affecting families and the economy.
There was a workshop on families and Catholic schools, which gave evidence of the importance of Catholic schools in assisting families to ensure the education of their children in the faith.
Also important was the need for Catholic schools to be family proactive and not allow competition with state schools to affect their mission and values.
Catholic schools must not implement practices that impact negatively on family life and must be different from non-Catholic schools by their education in faith and mission, and pastoral care.
This is, after all, their reason for being a Catholic school and not just a school that happens to be Catholic. The same is true for Church agencies such as CatholicCare Social Services in the Diocese of Parramatta. Why are we Catholic social services? How are we different from other non-government agencies.Ann O’Brien’s reports and a photo gallery are archived on the Diocese of Parramatta website: www.parra.catholic.org.au
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