St. John Paul II is memorialized as a preeminent champion of marriage and family life. He believed that the family would play a vital role in the New Evangelization and was much more than a mere bystander in the Church’s evangelizing mission. He saw the family in its full potential in the order of grace—that if lived according to this potential in Christ, it could change the culture and the world.
St. John Paul II presented the family as rooted in the economy of salvation and having an important role to play in the order of redemption. He recognized that the model of the family is to be sought in God himself (Letter to Families, 6). His vision of family as a communion of persons is rooted in the communion of the Godhead. Marriage does not exist merely as a natural union, but also as a means of grace and salvation—not only to the husband and wife, but to the fruit their marriage generates within the culture. Spouses who are nourished by the sacramental life of the Church, committed to their marriage, and strive to live in union with Christ, become vehicles of God’s grace to their families and to the world (Familiaris Consortio, 49, 71). He was confident that no ideology, however daunting, can extinguish what God has set in motion.
In 1992, St. John Paul II developed the idea of the World Meeting of Families and presided over the inaugural event in Rome in 1994. Today, the World Meeting of Families occurs every three years. It is organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, established in 2016 by Pope Francis, whose pontificate also reflects his deep concern and love for the family. It is the largest gathering of Catholic families in the world. The next World Meeting of Families will take place in Rome, June 22-26, 2022. However, the event in Rome will not take place in the usual format; rather, it will be held for invited guests only – primarily, representatives of episcopal conferences and ecclesial movements. In place of the worldwide public gathering, the Vatican strongly encourages all dioceses, with their local bishops, to celebrate the World Meeting by gathering families for a customized, local experience of formation, prayer, and fellowship.
Celebrating the World Meeting of Families in 2022 is an excellent opportunity for the Archdiocese of Detroit to continue to carry out the vision for families as articulated in Unleash the Gospel. This celebration will complement the many efforts past and present to help families reclaim their Christian identity and form them for mission.
In anticipation of the World Meeting of Families in 2022, Region VI (Michigan and Ohio) representatives from the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers created a toolkit to help parishes engage and celebrate the worldwide event. This team included Tara Stenger from the Archdiocese of Detroit. This toolkit is intended as a shared resource to be used by parishes in all the dioceses of Michigan and Ohio. Beginning in 2022, the Archdiocese of Detroit will utilize the developed toolkit to celebrate the World Meeting of Families in the following manner:
- A Lenten Prayer Challenge – The archdiocese will utilize the Family Prayer Challenge presented in the toolkit. This Lenten Family Prayer Challenge will operate similarly to the prayer challenges that have been offered to families in the past by having families sign up to receive daily digital content. More information on this is coming soon!
- Family Small Groups During the Easter Season – Families will be encouraged to form Family Small Groups to study and reflect on the catechetical content provided by the organizers of the World Meeting of Families. The Office of Family Ministry will provide resources and support materials to help parishes get these groups going.
- Parish Celebrations in June – Parishes are invited to celebrate the World Meeting of Families in whatever way they wish (i.e., picnic, dinner, public prayer, etc.). The Office of Family Ministry will provide ideas and tips for celebrating the World Meeting of Families at the parish level.
Directors of Family Ministry in Wave 1 Families of Parishes are invited to be the primary organizers for these activities for the parish within their Family. Directors of Faith Formation and Pastoral Associates of Wave 2 parishes are invited to do the same.
Through the convergence of the Year of the Family and the Year of St. Joseph in 2021, we had the opportunity to contemplate the beauty and importance of family life and reflect on St. Joseph as a model for fulfilling our personal vocation to holiness. As we begin the New Year, we look forward to the conclusion of the Year of the Family with the celebration of the World Meeting of Families in June. In doing so we are invited to ramp up, rather than lessen our efforts, to minister to families and join the universal Church in helping families to “become what they are,” a communion of persons and the living image of God. (Familiaris Consortio, 17-20)
We come before you to praise you
and to thank you for the great gift of the family.
We pray to you for all families
consecrated by the Sacrament of Matrimony.
May they rediscover each day
the grace they have received,
and as small domestic Churches,
may they know how to witness to your presence
and to the love with which Christ loves the Church.
We pray to you for all families faced with difficulty and suffering
caused by illness or circumstances of which only you know.
Sustain them and make them aware
of the path to holiness upon which you call them,
so that they might experience your infinite mercy
and find new ways to grow in love.
We pray to you for children and young people:
may they encounter you and respond joyfully
to the vocation you have in mind for them;
We pray for parents and grandparents: may they be aware
that they are signs of the fatherhood and motherhood of God
in caring for the children who, in body and spirit, you entrust to them;
and for the experience of fraternity
that the family can give to the world.
Lord, grant that each family
might live their specific vocation to holiness in the Church
as a call to become missionary disciples,
in the service of life and peace,
in communion with our priests, religious,
and all vocations in the Church.
Bless the World Meeting of Families.
(Official prayer for the X World Meeting of Families, June 22-26, 2022)