September 23, 2015 // Local

Diocesan participants call Day 1, World Meeting of Families, ‘a wonderful experience’

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades in procession to Mass at the World Meeting of Families.

By Tim Johnson

PHILADELPHIA — Diocesan travelers attending the first day of the World Meeting of Families, Tuesday, are calling the event a true pilgrimage.

The 10 diocesan families who are following the Hispanic track at the theological conference, were greeted at the convention center in Philadelphia by Father Jose, a Knight of Columbus. Father Jose, a native of Puerto Rico, is slated to offer a Wednesday youth session.

The diocesan families are traveling with Enid Roman and Lourdes Silva from the Office of Hispanic Ministry. Many of the participants are studying for the diocesan diaconate or are involved in their parishes as catechists and other ministries. The parishes they represent include Our Lady of Guadalupe, Warsaw; Our Lady of Hungary, South Bend; St. Patrick, Ligonier; St. Patrick, Fort Wayne; St. Therese, Fort Wayne; and St. John the Evangelist, Goshen.

Jeremy Reidy, whose family belongs to Our Lady of Good Hope Parish, Fort Wayne, had a two-hour drive with his wife Becky and five children from Hershey to Philadelphia. He called the drive very exhausting.

“Regardless, we soldiered on,” said Reidy. “First we walked to the convention center and officially registered for the congress. On the way to registration, we saw Bishop Robert Barron taping a segment for EWTN.”

Bishop Barron offered the opening address at the theological conference.

The Reidy family are shown on the road Tuesday morning from Hershey to Philadelphia.

Reidy said, “It took a couple hours to get registered and to register the kids for the Youth Congress. When we were done, Becky took the kids back to the hotel room for a snack and a rest.”

Meanwhile, Reidy attended Bishop Barron’s talk.

“Bishop Barron gave a talk on what it means to be priest, prophet and king through our Baptism — being ‘imago Dei,’” Reidy noted. “He challenged the laity to answer the call to universal holiness; to go forth into the world and sanctify it. He reminded all of us that the family is the basic cell of society — the place where the ‘imago Dei’ is brought to life.”

Rebecca Fitzmaurice, attending the conference with her husband Mike and son Gregory, members of Queen of Peace Parish in Mishawaka, called Bishop Barron’s talk “phenomenal.”

She said, “We must understand — and share with others — that the ‘no’ of God’s law is always in service of a greater and more abiding ‘yes.’ We must also share with others that the Church’s extravagant demand of holiness is matched — even surpassed by — a greater mercy.”

Fitzmaurice summarized Bishop Barron’s talk. It is a fundamental truth of Catholicism that the family is the basic cell of society, and that the family is where:

• The image of God is brought to life.

• We are taught to be priest/prophet/king.

• A sense of mission is cultivated.

• Right praise is taught.

• Moral truths are taught and lived.

• The virtues are cultivated.

• Missions are encouraged.

Another opening festivity was the opening Mass, which Reidy described as “an amazing experience.”

“I couldn’t count, but I’d guess there were 75 pointy hats (bishops),” he said. “We saw Bishop (Kevin C.) Rhoades in the procession and even got his attention for a quick hello. Archbishop Chaput was the homlist.

The Reidy family wrapped up the evening with dinner at Maggiano’s. “The restaurant was full of Catholic families, bishops, priests and sisters,” Reidy said. “This is such a wonderful experience.”

Rebecca Fitzmaurice said the opening ceremony was very nice.

She noted, “The World Meeting of Families organizers talked about how we are celebrating the family as the sanctuary of love and life. They applauded the pope’s unwavering focus on the challenges of families; and they described that the speakers’ talks will focus on strengthening families and their bond with God.”

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia holds up a bicycle custom made for Pope Francis during the opening ceremonies of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia Sept. 22. The bike, given by the City of Philadelphia, was to be presented to the pope during his visit. (CNS photo/Jeffrey Bruno)

She added, “Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter showed us the gifts he will present to Pope Francis, one of which is a custom-built white bicycle: ‘A people’s bike for a people’s pope.’”

Gregory Fitzmaurice, 13, said, “I was looking forward to the ‘Bowling with the Bishops’ event, but no bishops were there!” He is hoping some bishops will show up later in the week.

The Fitzmaurice’s spent the evening walking the streets of “Old City” (the historic district of Philadelphia) while listening to a guide tell enchanting stories of people who have gone before — it was a ghost tour.

“Josh, our tour guide, was a great guy who was very excited about the World Meeting of Families and about the pope coming to Philadelphia, even though, as he mentioned, he is not Catholic,” Rebecca noted. “We saw Old St. Joseph’s Church, which at one time, was one of the few places in the world where the Catholic Mass could be celebrated (because of William Penn’s desire for a new land of religious freedom).”

The ghost tour was in the vicinity of Independence Hall, where workers were setting up perimeters and zones anticipating the papal events at Independence Hall and the Ben Franklin Parkway for the papal Mass.

“I liked the way our tour guide Josh ended our tour,” Rebecca said. “Sleep well tonight — whether you are in or outside the papal zone.”


Bishop tells families to be God’s image for secularized society

By Joyce Duriga

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Being created in the image of God is a mission, an adventure and a command that each Catholic is called to carry out into the world and something we need to rediscover as people of faith living in today’s secularized culture, said Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles Sept. 21.

He made the comments in the opening keynote address at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

Bishop Barron is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, host of the award-winning “Catholicism” film series, and from 2012 to 2015 was the rector/president of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary outside Chicago. He was ordained an auxiliary bishop Sept. 8.

His YouTube videos have been viewed over 13 million times and next to Pope Francis, he is the most-followed Catholic leader on social media.

In a talk that was simultaneously translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Vietnamese and American Sign Language, Bishop Barron explored how each person is made in the image and likeness of God — “imago Dei” — and the great responsibility and mission that comes with that.

It is through Adam — the first priest, prophet and king — that all of God’s children find their purpose as imago Dei, he said, speaking to a crowd of several thousand at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia.

As priest, Adam adored God. As prophet, he cultivated humanity and creation. As king, he took the Gospel message out to the world. We, too — men and women — are called to follow Adam’s example as priests, prophets and kings, Bishop Barron said.

The Old Testament shows how the imago Dei is compromised along the way. “Instead of worshipping God, we worship all other kinds of things,” he said. “What always goes wrong with Israel is bad praise, running after false gods. We’re the new Israel. The same rubric applies to us.”

We lose our priestly identity by worshipping things other than God, he said. We lose our prophetic identity when we make up our own ideas about what is true and right and we stop being good kings when we privatize our religion and keep it to ourselves.

False gods like wealth or pleasure cannot satisfy the longing of the heart, the bishop said.

“It’s only God that can satisfy the deepest longing of the heart,” he said. “We need to teach our culture how to worship aright.”

To fulfill our mission of prophets we must embrace freedom in God’s laws instead of what the current society tells us will make us free.

Today’s world says “my will determines what is truth, which is a lie,” Bishop Barron said. “That’s inimical to the Bible.”

Rather, by embracing God’s laws and understanding them we will be truly free to live in his image and likeness and be happy.

“It’s the shaping of desire so as to make the achieving of good first possible and then effortless,” Bishop Barron said.

The bishop likened this to learning the game of golf. If a person truly loves the game and wants to be good at it, they must follow the rules of the game and the rules of how to swing in order to be good at it. They can’t just pick up any club and swing away expecting to be successful without instruction.

In the same way, God’s laws help us to be free as human beings.

The church has the truth of what makes true freedom possible but people who say, “Who are you to tell me what to do?” have cowed Catholics into a “prophetic silence,” Bishop Barron said.

“Friends, if we stop speaking, it won’t be heard,” he told the crowd.

This truth is rooted in the Catholic Church’s “extravagant demand” on her people to be saints, Bishop Barron said. But that demand is coupled with an extravagant mercy. When following God’s laws, moral demand and mercy should be stressed equally. It’s not one or the other.

“Moral demand, all the way. Extravagant mercy, all the way,” he said.

To embrace imago Dei we must also fulfill our role as kings, people willing to go on campaign — like a military effort without the aggression or violence — bringing the Lord to the world.

“Authentic Christianity is a faith on the march,” Bishop Barron said.

Christ promises us success if we follow our mission. That promise came in chapter 16, verse 18 of Matthew when Jesus told Peter that he would build the church through him and “the gates of hell will not prevail against you.”

In Jesus’ time, walls and gates protected cities from armies and intruders. Christ was telling the apostles that by following him, people campaigning for the Lord would be able to break through hell’s gates.

“We’re the ones on the march. Hell has something to fear from us,” Bishop Barron said, adding a word of caution. “It’s not going to happen if we allow our religion to be privatized.”

The fathers of the Second Vatican Council would be disappointed if they knew that today 75 percent of Catholics wouldn’t be attending Mass, he said. When they wrote about the call of the laity and the universal call to holiness they were seeking great Catholic laity to go forth into the world and sanctify it.

“We to a large extent have lost our sense of mission to sanctify the world,” Bishop Barron said.

Bringing it back to the World Meeting of Families, the bishop said the family, as the basic cell of civil society, has a huge role to play in rediscovering that mission of imago Dei.

“The family is the place where the imago Dei is burnished, where the imago Dei is brought to life,” he said.

Families that pray together, bless their kids when they go to bed at night and cultivate virtues and forgiveness in their children are learning right praise and teaching their children to go out into the world and teach that to the world, he added.

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Duriga is editor of the Catholic New World, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

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