Pope Francis blesses a girl as her family presents offertory gifts during the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families along Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia Sept. 27, 2015. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, said diocesan celebrations coinciding with the World Meeting of Families 2022 will allow Catholic families to be in "spiritual communion" with Pope Francis and delegates in Rome.
The event, which will be in Rome June 22-26, "will always be a worldwide event, as in the past, only this time it will be lived in all the local churches all over the world," Farrell told journalists during a news conference Sept. 30.
"We cannot think of sustaining family ministry if we do not involve in these important moments of ecclesial encounter families, who not only are 'soil to be cultivated,' but also 'the seed to be sown in the world' in order to fertilize it with real and credible witnesses of the beauty of love within the family," he said.
The theme chosen by the pope for the meeting, which was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, is: "Family love: A vocation and a path to holiness."
In July, Francis asked dioceses around the world to make it possible for every family to participate in the World Meeting of Families by holding local celebrations during the gathering in Rome.
"Each diocese can be the focal point for a local meeting for its families and communities," the pope had said. "In this way, everyone will be able to participate, even those who cannot come to Rome."
He also asked dioceses to be "dynamic, active and creative in organizing this with the families in harmony with what will be taking place in Rome. This is a wonderful opportunity to devote ourselves with enthusiasm to family ministry with spouses, families and pastors together."
Msgr. Walter Insero, director of social communications for the Diocese of Rome, said families will be able to watch the entire World Meeting of Families on their computer or smartphone via the meeting's official website, www.romefamily2022.com/en/.
Gabriella Gambino, undersecretary of the dicastery, told journalists that an estimated 2,000 delegates, "including many families," are expected to attend the event in Rome, which will be held at the Vatican's Paul VI audience hall.
The final Mass will be celebrated on a Saturday, June 25, to allow "families in the rest of the world to celebrate (Mass) on Sunday with their own bishops," Gambino said.
Delegates, she added, "will be invited directly by the bishops' conferences and by the heads of the family associations and international ecclesial movements. The number of delegates for each bishops' conference will be proportional to the size of the conference itself."
The Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life will also send suggestions for organizing the event at a diocesan level to bishops around the world, she added.
"We realize that it is not easy to take the initiative, especially in some geographical areas and in some particular pastoral situations, but we encourage everyone to try to involve families in this adventure," Gambino said.
"Many families want to participate and would like to be involved even if only at the diocesan level," she said.