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Family Faith Fest: a local World Meeting of Families

Archdiocesan event featured catechesis, prayer and activities for all ages

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DORAL | Damian del Gallego, 6, laughed and called his mother over as he saw a cardboard cutout of a ‘headless’ priest at the Family Faith Fest, held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Doral June 25, 2022.

His mother, Endrina Lopez, encouraged him to go stand behind it so she could take his picture and he could see what he would look like as a priest.

Damian del Gallego, 6, a parishioner at Our Lady of Guadalupe, poses with a cutout of a "future priest" found at the Vocations Office booth during the Family Faith Fest, celebrated at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Doral, June 25, 2022.

Photographer: ANGELIQUE RUHI-LOPEZ | FC

Damian del Gallego, 6, a parishioner at Our Lady of Guadalupe, poses with a cutout of a "future priest" found at the Vocations Office booth during the Family Faith Fest, celebrated at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Doral, June 25, 2022.

Members of Our Lady of Guadalupe's young adult group, En Tus Manos (In Your Hands), help the Leoncio children make sandwiches for the homeless during the Family Faith Fest, celebrated at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Doral, June 25, 2022.

Photographer: ANGELIQUE RUHI-LOPEZ | FC

Members of Our Lady of Guadalupe's young adult group, En Tus Manos (In Your Hands), help the Leoncio children make sandwiches for the homeless during the Family Faith Fest, celebrated at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Doral, June 25, 2022.

Making rosaries out of string: Ignacio, 13, and Valeria, 11, Dueñas of St. John Neumann Parish, whose grandmother invited them and their mom to the Family Faith Fest, celebrated at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Doral, June 25, 2022.

Photographer: ANGELIQUE RUHI-LOPEZ | FC

Making rosaries out of string: Ignacio, 13, and Valeria, 11, Dueñas of St. John Neumann Parish, whose grandmother invited them and their mom to the Family Faith Fest, celebrated at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Doral, June 25, 2022.

Lopez, a parishioner at Our Lady of Guadalupe, attended the event as a volunteer and brought her son with her so that he could participate in the festivities.

“I am worried. The faith is being lost in our families and from a young age, we need to instill the faith in our children so that they grow up with a fear of God, following the Ten Commandments, and in communion with God,” she said, as she snapped a picture of Damian, who grinned as he popped his head over the priest cardboard cutout at the Office of Vocations booth.

The afternoon event was planned to coincide with the 10th World Meeting of Families, which took place in Rome June 22-26. Since only a select number of delegates from each country were invited to Rome, dioceses around the world were encouraged to plan their own “meeting of families” event.

About 375 families registered to attend the archdiocese’s Family Faith Fest, which not only linked to the World Meeting of Families, but also implemented the call from Pope Francis in his Synod on Synodality, as well as the local archdiocesan synod and the three-year Eucharistic Revival.

The theme of this year’s World Meeting of Families was “Family Love: a vocation and a path to holiness” and the activities at the Family Faith Fest echoed this theme.

“We know the importance of marriage and family life in the Church, but do we offer opportunities to the family to experience Church life together? Instead, we split up the family: The kids go to one group, the moms to another, the dads to another,” said Stephen Colella, cabinet secretary of Parish Life and director of the Office of Family Life. “This event is helping multiple generations to do things together to remind them that together, they are the head, heart and hands of the Church. This is what Saint John Paul II wanted us to do when he started the World Meeting of Families.”

Ileana Salort, from St. Catherine of Siena in Miami, saw the Family Faith Fest advertised in her parish bulletin and invited her daughter, Natalie Dueñas, who attends St. John Neumann Church, and her grandchildren, Ignacio, 13, and Valeria, 11. They picked up some balloon animals and also visited the booth of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, where they made rosaries.

“I learned to make a rosary out of string,” said Ignacio. “I am going to finish it and then use it to take to school and pray with it when I start Belen next year.”

Different movements, ministries and departments of the Archdiocese of Miami were represented at the booths, including Retrouvaille (a movement to heal and renew marriages); Camino del Matrimonio (marriage preparation for engaged couples); Encuentros Juveniles (a movement for young people); Catholic Cemeteries; and the offices of Vocations, Catechesis and Respect Life, among others. There were also vendors of religious items such as Pauline Books and Media, Good News Book Fair and Blessedly Made hand painted items.

“We invited families to get into the boat and go out into the deep of the ocean of humanity, to help them know more about the calls of Our Lady, exhorting them to seek the merciful love of Jesus, learn as a family about the virtues to always be good and do the good,” said Sister Karen Muñiz, director of the Office of Catechesis.

Her office’s booth, named, “Family: Duc in altum!” (Put out into the deep), featured a catechesis on some of the Marian apparitions. Participants received a passport containing the messages of Mary from every continent.

“This is not an info fair,” Colella said. “It was less about selling your ministry and more about sharing our witness so that people may learn what your ministry is offering for families. There are different activities for different age groups, activities that involve mind, body, soul — spiritual, catechetical, and just plain fun. There’s something for everyone.”

In addition to bounce houses, a slide, games, face painting, crafts and food trucks, the event featured adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and confessions.

“We wanted this local event to start attracting people to come back in person to Mass after COVID, to remind people what it was like to come together as a family at Church before COVID,” said Brenda Madhosingh, administrative assistant in the Office of Parish Life, who also helped plan the event. “We also wanted to link the family with the importance of the Eucharist, and that’s why we have the exposition of Blessed Carlo Acutis’ eucharistic miracles exhibit in the parish hall.”

Also in the parish hall, Our Lady of Guadalupe’s youth group, En Tus Manos, led a service project for participants to make sandwiches for the homeless. At the end of the day, 650 sandwiches were delivered to the Missionaries of Charity.

Alejandra and Michael Leoncio, parishioners at St. Timothy Church in Miami, attended with their four young children, who also helped to make sandwiches.

“We wanted to attend this event to help with family formation and share with other families with the same beliefs as ours,” said Michael Leoncio.

The afternoon event concluded with a vigil Mass for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, celebrated by Archbishop Thomas Wenski.

“We need to rediscover and recommit ourselves to family life as a vocation and a path to holiness,” Archbishop Wenski said during his homily. “Healthy families make for a healthy society. Healthy family bonds and relationships give people a sense of belonging and bring balance to life. And while not all families, if any, are perfect, all families are irreplaceable and indispensable.”

Despite menacing clouds, children enjoy the blow-up rides at the Family Faith Fest celebrated at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Doral, June 25, 2022.

Photographer: ANGELIQUE RUHI-LOPEZ | FC

Despite menacing clouds, children enjoy the blow-up rides at the Family Faith Fest celebrated at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Doral, June 25, 2022.