World Meeting of Families 2018 – A Report from the Hyland Family
We would firstly like to thank the Australian Catholic Bishops for providing this wonderful opportunity for our family. We would also like to thank Mark and Tink Boyd, chair couple for the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council, for their encouragement and their organisation of the pilgrimage.
Our experience on this pilgrimage was one of prayer, fellowship and formation, which combined to make the pilgrimage extremely beneficial for our marriage and for our family. The spiritual leadership provided by Bishop Michael Kennedy, Bishop Terry Brady and Deacon Al were instrumental in ensuring that our trip was, in fact, a pilgrimage and not simply another conference “about” families. Their ability to connect with everyone and to provide prayerful experiences was highlighted by all the pilgrims in conversations that we had along the way, as well as in the feedback we received after the pilgrimage.
The pilgrims attended morning prayer together, which was a daily reminder of the spiritual nature of our pilgrimage. It enabled us to come together as a group, to pray as one as we prepared to head out into the Congress to the varied experiences that were in store for us. Daily mass was also a highlight and where possible we sat together and experienced what were some outstanding liturgies in beautifully adorned churches. The universal nature of our church was on display, particularly in the Congress liturgies amongst the multi-lingual ‘voices’ that read scripture and prayed the intercessory prayers.
The visit to Glendalough enabled the pilgrims to connect with the centuries-old spiritual heritage of Ireland. The remains of the monastery founded by St Kevin in the 6th century is remarkable, to say the least, and the beauty of the surrounding countryside is sure to provoke a sense of the sacred in anyone who visits. The pilgrims remarked that the holiness of Glendalough seemed to be ‘thick in the air’ and it was easy to imagine the monks going about their daily work in the fields and chanting in the chapel.
One of the ‘laments’ of the trip that has been communicated by the pilgrims was the lack of time to reflect and absorb the places that we had visited. This is one of the challenges of an overseas trip, trying to balance the “amount” of places that we visit with the “space” in between to really absorb the experience. However, the many walks, bus rides and meals that we shared, provided some time for fellowship and reflection on our experiences. We believe that these were the most fruitful part of the pilgrimage.
Discussion amongst the adults provided an opportunity to listen to the experiences of others and to consolidate the massive amount of information and formative content that was available throughout the day. The children have formed friendships that will, I am sure, pick up where they left off when we have the opportunity to gather together again in the near future. These relationships were decisive in making this pilgrimage transformative for all who attended.
The organisation and flow of the Congress was very good. It was a surprise for those who had children that were not able to leave them at the scheduled activities. The reasons for this were not made clear, though it was mentioned that safeguarding might have had a part to play. Despite this, we were able to see most of the talks that we had planned, thanks to Charlotte Boyd, who took our children for some fun activities.
We are especially grateful to Charlotte, as are the other families that attended. There was something for everyone of all ages. There was a kids and teens program as well as a YOUCAT tent which was well suited for teenagers who seemed to enjoy hanging out there with other young pilgrims.
There were a variety of topics included in the presentations, with the main talks being based on chapters of Amoris Laetitia. The pilgrim ‘favourite talks’ included Cardinal Tagle on Pope Francis and the throwaway culture; Bishop Barron’s talk on what is Jesus calling our families to be?; and Fr Leo Patalinghug on spicing up our married life: Satisfying couples hunger for true love. What all these talks had in common was the dynamic nature of the speakers and their ability to articulate the Gospel message for the family in a variety of ways. This ensured that people from all nations and backgrounds were able to take away something to integrate into their lives and their parishes as well.
An excellent new resource that was given as a gift from Pope Francis to families at the WMF is the You Cat for Kids. This is a terrific resource that is presented in such a child-friendly way of explaining our key beliefs in a question and answer format. All of the pilgrims found this resource to be remarkable.
The Festival of Families was an awe-inspiring event where people gathered from around the world to hear personal testimonies from families, celebrate the local Irish culture and cultures of the world. The testimonies included the issues of; technology in the home, forgiveness, sustaining your marriage, and cultivating a home centred on love. Pope Francis in his speech commented on each of the family testimonies and then provided advice on the key issues that were expressed.
The Papal mass was equally impressive, and we were grateful for the Holy Fathers act of Contrition on behalf of the Church for the atrocities committed in her name.
Hearing from Pope Francis was incredible, we believe that Catholic families in Australia would benefit from the opportunity to see and hear from Pope Francis in person.
With every blessing,
Leanne and Shane Hyland
Joshua, Alyssa and Lachlan