By Karna Swanson
MEXICO CITY, JAN. 16, 2009 (Zenit.org).- When a Catholic family gets together, it’s not unusual that they take some time out to pray. Even less when that family is the universal Catholic Church.
Thousands of families have gathered this week in Mexico City to participate in the 6th World Meeting of Families, which will culminate Sunday with a closing Mass.
More than 10,000 participants have been crowding the Expo Bancomer in the mountain capital to attend the pastoral-theological congress since Wednesday.
Participants have been attending a full schedule of conferences, roundtable discussions and musical entertainment, as well as meeting and greeting the hundreds of priests, bishops and cardinals in attendance.
But in the midst of all this activity, thousands of participants have come to the event to pray for their families, and to obtain the plenary indulgence Benedict XVI conceded to those who are participating both physically and spiritually in the meeting.
Gloria Barroso, director for liturgy of the family encounter, explained to ZENIT that those participating in the event can attend one of the five Masses a day that are said in a conference room on the upper floor of the center. Many of the cardinals and bishops attending the conference have presided at one or more of the Masses.
“Attendance at the Masses has been very good,” she said. “We had confession all day. About 10-12 priests have been hearing confessions all day. Many people have gone to confession. It is for the benefit of all of those that are here.”
Also available is adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in a chapel, also located on the upper floor, and a Eucharistic hour was celebrated Thursday night.
Legionary Father Joseph Fazio, originally of New York, is one of the many priests who has been hearing confessions during the congress.
He told ZENIT that in the confessional he has seen the first fruits of the encounter: “A lot of people are waking up. I’ve seen a lot of people who are already actively trying to help their family. People are coming back to the faith. They want to fix their family relationships.
“They are discovering that their family relationships are breaking apart, and this is because they haven’t put God first. They stopped invoking him. They’ve stopped going to Mass. They stopped going to catechism or sending their children to catechism. And now that they see problems, they want to come back.”
Maria Ruz Hernández, 21, a student from Mexico City, was one of those who took advantage to receive the sacrament of confession at the encounter, which she said was very “complete.”
“They give very good advice,” she added.
When asked about the role of the family in her life she responded that it “is the most important thing in my life.”
“Well, first God,” she added, “then my family.”