Synod14: Liaison for Philadelphia Family Meeting Says World Is Ready to Celebrate the Family

Considers Family As God’s 2nd Greatest Gift

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The place where a person is best known, loved, and secure is the family, and that is why the Church will do everything to protect and sustain it, says the priest serving as a liaison between the archbishop of Philadelphia and the Vatican’s family council, in preparation for next year’s World Meeting of Families to be held in the US.

Father William Donovan spoke to the synod fathers about the upcoming ‘World Meeting of Families 2015 Philadelphia’ to take place Sept. 22-27, 2015. It is hoped the Holy Father will attend the event.

Fr. Donovan reminded delegates about this beauty of God’s gift of the family. In this ZENIT interview, he not only discusses the celebration to take place in Philadelphia, but also how Pope Francis and the Church are dedicated to preserving and promoting the family, particularly through the synod which is underway at the Vatican through Saturday.

ZENIT: What is your role here during the synod?

Fr. William Donovan: I am here during this synod to provide the synod fathers with general information about the World Meeting of Families that will be held in Philadelphia next September from the 22nd to the 27th of 2015, where it will be the 8th World Meeting of Families, with the expected arrival and participation of the Holy Father, which we hope, which we understand and have a great confidence, will be his first visit to North America, to the United States, and Philadelphia.

ZENIT: Could you explain the World Meeting of Families?

Fr. William Donovan: The Word Meeting of Families is basically three great moments. The first is a congress that will be four days, at which we’ll have speakers, both theologians on theory as well as practitioners who will help and support the family. So there’ll be topics such as the Trinity as the basis of a happy family — there will be [speeches that are] varied theologically, doctrinally-based. And there’ll be various workshops present at the congress, such as how to help families with domestic violence, how to sustain families in various stressful situations and so forth. So the congress is basically from experts, from practitioners from every continent. There will be an official delegation from every country around the world there.

The second great moment after the congress will be the festival of families. It will be Saturday evening, a great celebration on the parkway. It’s an artistic and cultural celebration with song and music and dramatic performance in the presence of the Holy Father. And one of the key moments will be when the Holy Father will engage in dialogue with five families from five different continents. They’ll ask him questions about the family and he’ll respond.

And then the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families will be Sunday afternoon, which will be a large outdoor Mass celebration by the Holy Father for all of the people.

ZENIT: So you’ve been explaining this to the synod delegates?

Fr. William Donovan: Basically the key delegates, at the congress, are the presidents of all the episcopal conferences. And so, basically, they’ll be responsible for selecting the official delegation and promoting the delegation of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. So they’re key persons, key partners, in making the success of the international meeting that will take place in Philadelphia.

ZENIT: Do you believe the fruits of this synod will in some way help with your preparation for the World Meeting of Families?

Fr. William Donovan: Certainly. Basically, Pope Francis has really made the family as a hallmark of his pontificate. I saw an article that compared when Pope John Paul II became Pope. Some of what he placed emphasis on early in his pontificate was the family, because, he, like Pope Francis, came to Petrine Ministry immediately after serving as archbishop, and so they’re aware of the importance of the family, to protect, to sustain, to support, to really see the beauty of it, in terms of God’s design for the human person and the family.

I think one could arguably say that after the gift that God has given us with our own human person, with intellect, will, and so forth. So the greatest second natural gift he has given us has been the family.

Family is the place where the human person comes to full development. It’s the place where he is best known and best loved. It is the place where he is safe and secure. So for the Church and for the world, the family is most important, that we sustain it, we help it, that we give it every kind of aid.

It’s so exciting that everyone is on board, in terms of the Holy Father. His first meeting of the cardinals was on the family. Now he is having these two synods, one now in October of 2014 and he will have the other next October, in 2015. And in between there will be the great World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

So it’s been a joy, and a very interesting moment, for me, personally, to watch this historic moment.


On the NET:

For more information on the World Meeting of Families 2015 Philadelphia:

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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