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  • Rosa Koian and Fr Ambrose Pereira sdb

Cardinal Tagle: Lord increase my Faith

Catholic launch Family Life Pastoral Plan for 2022 - 2027

THE Catholic Church in Papua New Guinea ended its Year of the Family with a two-day National Family Festival and Congress on a high note with the Pro-Prefect of the Office of Evangelization in Rome Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle celebrating the Episcopal Mass on Sunday October 2, at Caritas Technical Secondary School in Port Moresby.

The celebration was attended by nearly 3,000 married couples, young people, bishops and the religious from various dioceses in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands who came together to listen and to celebrate the day.

The year of the Family, which was established by Pope Francis on March 19, 2021, the day of the Solemnity of St Joseph was to promote the joy of love and to explore and see the beauty of joy in family life. The Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands recognize and uphold families as the domestic institution of the church.

Confirming this, Catholic model families shared their stories of praying together, staying together, keeping their marriage vows to be ‘husband / wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part’. This solemn vow was reflected upon in the hope of helping others who are going through challenges in their marriages and family. Several model families shared that marriage and family can be challenging and it takes love to help make these relationships work. They encourage families to work on how they communicate with each other in their families.

The theme of the festival and congress was: ‘Family Love: a vocation and path to Holiness’ is a call to Catholics to show the love of God in their families to build strong communities. It called for marriages to re-commit their families to their Christian Catholic values.

The day commenced with an hour of Eucharistic Adoration, at 9am, at which about 500 young people participated. It dwelt on the theme: ‘Faith in Marriage, Faith in the Family’. A prayer dance coordinated by Ms Rica Lavilla and the Year 12 boys of Don Bosco Gabutu together with the choir led by Mr Vincent Numbos engaged the entire congregation in prayerful worship. The Adoration was animated by Fr Ambrose Pereira sdb, who involved the young people in song, dance, and prayer. Bl Peter ToRot was invoked through a prayer for families. The young participants implored the blessings of the Lord on couples, families and on young people preparing for the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage.

In a very humorous, interactive, and engaging homily Cardinal Tagle congratulated the PNG church on this colourful celebration and emphasized on how strong families built on love and thus make strong communities. He dwelt on: ‘Lord increase my Faith’, as he invited everyone present to be open, compassionate, and forgiving. Dwelling on the gospel, through practical examples, he invited husbands, wives, and children to reach out and serve as this an essential response to God will and a commitment to our Faith. In the words of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, he reminded the congregation that the family is, ‘a place of encounter, a door of holiness, and that we need to be salt and light to everyone, never being a cause of scandal to little ones’.

At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, he blessed the families and gave them the mandate to be ‘Missionary couples and families’. This was followed by the Launching of the five-year Conference Family Life Pastoral Plan (2022-2027) and the presentation of the Amoris Laetitia Discussion Guides in Pidgin and English by Bp Rolando Santos, cm and Bp Peter Houhou, Bishop of Auki.

The St Joseph’s choir led the congregation in joyful singing, while cultural dances were led by Don Bosco Technical Institute, Boroko; Sacred Heart parish; St Joseph’s, Boroko and St Charles Lwanga, Gerehu.

This National Family Festival also marked the end of a week-long annual PNG and Solomon Islands Catholic Bishops meeting held in Port Moresby. The much-appreciated program was organized and coordinated by Sr Lucy D’Souza msi, secretary for the Family Life Commission together with a dedicated team of religious, clergy and lay persons.

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