Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Thursday, April 26, 2018

family conf webNormand Chouinard, retreat team leader at St. Hedwig Parish in Naugatuck, introduces Father Alvin J. LeBlanc, pastor of St. Ann Parish in Bristol; and a judge on the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Metropolitan Tribunal, for the opening prayer at a World Meeting of Families workshop held March 14 at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

NEW HAVEN – In anticipation of Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia Sept. 22-27 for the eighth World Meeting of Families, Damon Owens, executive director of the Theology of the Body Institute, discussed one of the key papal teachings about marriage and the family at a workshop March 14 at the Knights of Columbus Museum.

“This is the first time the World Meeting of Families will be held in the United States,” said Mr. Owens, who talked about Saint John Paul II’s catechesis known as the Theology of the Body, which he delivered from September 1979 to November 1984.

“Pope Francis has said that the role of the family is so dignified; yet how can we communicate and live that in the world, in our communities, in our families today?” he asked rhetorically.

“This is an opportunity to discuss the issues that matter.”

“Whether you’re Catholic or non-Catholic, people look to the Catholic Church for moral guidance,” he said. “The world is watching.”

The World Meeting of Families was launched in 1994 by Pope John Paul II. Held every three years and sponsored by the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Family, the week-long international event of prayer, catechesis and celebration draws participants from around the globe.

It is expected that 10,000 to 15,000 delegates from more than 150 nations, as well as nearly 100 world-renowned speakers, theologians, educators and religious leaders, will descend upon Philadelphia for the world’s largest Catholic gathering of families (

Pope Francis will not attend the Congress at the Convention Center, but he is expected to participate in the closing events of the World Meeting of Families. These events include the Festival of Families on Sept. 26 and a papal Mass to be celebrated on Sept. 27. Both of these events will take place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the heart of Philadelphia, and will be open to the public.

During his visit to the United States, the pope is also expected to address Congress on Sept. 24; and will be the fourth pope to visit the United Nations in its 70-year history when he speaks there on Sept. 25.

The theme for the World Meeting of Families is “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive,” emphasizing the impact of the love and life of families on our society. The official catechesis is available in several languages from Our Sunday Visitor ($9.95). For copies, call 1-800-348-2440 ext. 2173.

Mr. Owens was invited to the workshop by Normand Chouinard, retreat team leader at St. Hedwig Parish in Naugatuck. The mission of the Philadelphia-based Theology of the Body Institute, based in Downington, Pa., is to educate and train men and women to understand, live and promote the Theology of the Body.