Australians preparing to take part in the World Meeting of Families in the Philadelphia later this month have departed for the United States.
Bishop Michael Kennedy, Bishop Delegate for Marriage and Family, and Ron and Mavis Pirola, co-chairs of the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council, will lead the 21 adults and 23 children on the official pilgrimage.
Pope Francis will attend the meeting at Pennsylvania Convention Centre in Philadelphia from 22-25 September.
Its theme is ‘Love is our mission: The family fully alive’.
Bishop Kennedy said the gathering would focused on faith formation and fellowship among families.
“It will provide a unique opportunity to identify and discuss the strengths and challenges of family life in today’s society,” he said.
The group will travel from Sydney to Washington before arriving in Philadelphia where they will be joined by the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP and Emeritus Archbishop of Perth, Barry Hickey.
Darwin couple Matt and Cathy Bourke, along with their four children, Michael, Joel, Trinity and Sebastian, will represent the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
The World Meeting of Families, convened by the Pontifical Council for the Family and the host diocese, will include daily Mass, devotions, workshops, keynote addresses and multiple breakout sessions. The program will start with a three-day international pastoral and theological congress.
Australian parishioners are encouraged to be in solidarity through prayer, and by following the catechesis at home.
Ron and Mavis Pirola commended the catechesis.
“We are particularly enthusiastic about this eighth gathering because the preparatory catechesis is written in relatable, practical language,” they said.
“This augurs well for the talks that will take place at the preliminary congress.”