Written on: October 29, 2015
On September 22, twenty-one pilgrims from the Diocese of Buffalo journeyed to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. Excitement mounted as we pulled into the Pennsylvania Convention Center and found ourselves among 18,000+ people from over 100 countries eagerly awaiting the opening Mass and keynote address by Bishop Robert Barron. Laughter, excitement and greetings in many different languages filled the air. Flags from around the world waved in the huge gathering space. It was exhilarating to be among thousands of people united by their love for Christ and our Catholic faith. For me this was a powerful experience of the universal church.
Our group participated in the four-day World Meeting of Families Congress, a series of keynotes and breakout sessions that explored the theme “Love is our Mission: the Family Fully Alive.” There were opportunities to put faith into action: some of our group participated in preparing non-perishable food packages to be distributed by Catholic Relief Services in Afghanistan; others worked on a paint-by-number mural depicting Pope Francis with children to be installed on St. Malachy’s school in North Philadelphia.
Logistics prevented our group from attending the closing Papal Mass; however, many of us ventured forth on Saturday hoping to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis. We spent the day outdoors at City Hall with thousands of fellow pilgrims, chatting and watching the Pope’s appearance at Independence Hall on a Jumbotron screen. As our Holy Father led the “Our Father” just ten blocks away, we united our voices with his. Our efforts were rewarded just after 7 PM as the papal motorcade approached City Hall. We were face to face with Pope Francis and lent our voices to the crowd that welcomed him. Shortly afterward we boarded our bus for the overnight trip back to Buffalo.
Now that we are home, our task is to share our learnings to strengthen family ministry in our diocese.
Sister Barbara Schiavoni, GNSH has recently moved to Buffalo from Malone, NY. Sister Barbara lives at Sacred Heart Center and works for the Diocese of Buffalo.