An Australian couple, Ron and Mavis Pirola of Sydney, will be speakers at the 9th World Meeting of Families in Dublin this year. The focus of the Gathering will be Pope Francis’ Encyclical ‘Joy of Love’ (Amoris Laetitia).
World Meetings of Families were instituted by Pope St John Paul II and they occur approximately three-yearly, alternating with World Meetings of Youth. This Family Gathering will take place in Dublin on 21-26 August. There will be a three-day International Congress, followed by a ‘Festival of Families celebrating family life in different cultures. On the final day, Pope Francis will celebrate a giant open-air Papal Mass.
The Pirolas have participated in the previous seven such Family Gatherings. However, they have a special interest in this one as they spoke at the first of the two recent Family Synods, one of the fruits of which was the publication of the ‘Joy of Love’.
In launching the preparations for this Gathering, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin referred to the family as a primary place of encounter between the love of God and daily life. “Passing on the faith within families is not just an intellectual exercise”, he said. “Married couples pass on the faith by witnessing to the tender loving kindness of God through their mutual love as spouses – including their sexual love – and through their love of their children.”
Ron said that his hope was that all participating families would be renewed in their confidence in family life. “We live in a period of rapid change”, he commented. “Yet some things remain constant. One is the central importance of relationships; and the core training for that is in the family, the domestic church. That’s where we develop our sense of self-worth and our understanding of how to relate to others. When that is combined with our faith in Jesus, then our families become power houses of evangelisation.”
Mavis pointed out that there are two things that we can all do to unite ourselves to this international event. “One is to join in prayer with Pope Francis and with all participants. The other is to follow the discussion material of ‘Joy of Love’. The international catechesis can be downloaded at www.worldmeeting2018.ie/en/Resources and can be followed as an individual, a couple, a family or in a small group.”
The Pirolas were Members of the Pontifical Council for the Family from 1982 to 2009. They introduced Worldwide Marriage Encounter to Australia and established the Parish & Marriage Resource Centre (PMRC Australia). It was this organisation that co-convened, with the Australian Catholic Marriage & Family Council, the highly successful ‘Renaissance of Marriage’ national conference for marriage educators early this year in Sydney.
Ron and Mavis will join the Australian Bishops Pilgrimage Group to the Family Gathering. It is being co-ordinated by Mark and Tink Boyd of Rochampton Diocese, Chair Couple of the Australian Catholic Marriage & Family Council, and will be accompanied by Bishop Michael Kennedy of Armidale, Bishop Delegate for the Family, and Auxiliary Bishop Terry Brady of Sydney.
For further information about the World Meeting of Families, contact Mark and Tink Boyd on firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Harvest Journeys on 1800 819 156.
With thanks to Ron and Mavis Pirola.