World Festival of Families: promoting unity through music
Taking place in Rome between 22-26 June, the World Meeting of Families kicks off on Wednesday night with the Festival of Families which was introduced on Tuesday during a press briefing in the Vatican.
The kick-off event includes live testimonies and musical performances by Il Volo. In fact, present during the press briefing were the three young artists of the internationally acclaimed trio who will perform during the World Meeting of Families kick-off event. These songs will be performed with the Pope present along with various testimonies.
The anthem of the Festival, composed by Fr. Marco Frisina, is called "We Believe in Love", and will be performed in English, Italian, French and Spanish, with an Italian chorus.
The testimonies, coming from 5 different families will include those of parents who have lost their children, families who have taken in Ukrainian women fleeing war, and people fleeing poverty in other nations such as the Democratic Republic of Congo. The themes of the testimonies are marriage, holiness within the family, forgiveness, family as a place of welcome and the call to fraternity.
The three artists then spoke, each describing their pride in participating in an event surrounding a theme that is very important to them.. They described the importance of their families, especially given they all left theirs at a young age so that they could pursue music. They described the strength their siblings showed in being able to be close to their parents whilst they were away.
Pope to families: I want the Church to be a Good Samaritan for you
At the Festival of Families opening the World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis invites families to take a “step forward” in order to “change the world and make it a home for all those who need to feel welcomed and accepted.”
More than two thousand delegates from 120 countries have come to Rome for the five-day event, which aims at highlighting the beauty of marriage and the family in today’s world.
Pope Francis participated in the opening ceremonies in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, listening to the witness borne by several families who shared their experiences of the joys, concerns, hardships, and hopes of family life in the modern world.
They included the parents of the Servant of God Chiara Corbella Petrilla, a pro-life advocate who maintained her faith as she battled against cancer; a Ukrainian mother and her daughter, along with the large Italian family that welcomed them after they fled the war in Ukraine; and the Muslim widow of the Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, who was assassinated while carrying out humanitarian work.
Responding to their testimonies, Pope Francis assured all married couples and families throughout the world of his closeness to them in their concrete situations. He offered them his words of encouragement: “Start from where you are, and from there, try to journey together: together as couples, together in your own families, together with other families, together with the Church.”
Recalling the image of the Good Samaritan, the Holy Father said, “That is what I want the Church to be for all of you: A Good Samaritan that draws near to you and helps you to continue your journey and to take a step forward, however small.”
He went on to indicate some of those steps, drawing on the testimonies presented earlier by families: stepping forward towards openness to marriage, to embracing crosses, towards forgiveness, towards being welcoming to others, and towards fostering fraternity.
A mission and a witness for the world
Concluding his remarks, Pope Francis emphasized that every family “has a mission to carry out in our world, a testimony to give.” He invited families to ask themselves, “What is the word that the Lord wants to speak through our life to all those whom we meet? What ‘step forward' is he asking of our family today?”
The World Meeting of Families continues through the weekend, culminating in a final Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s Square on Saturday night, with a final “Mandate to Families” delivered by the Pope at the Angelus on Sunday.