The 10th World Meeting of Families (WMOF) is taking place in Rome this week, from Wednesday June 22 until Sunday June 26.
These meetings normally happen every three years and have been held all over the world. This year’s theme is, “Family Love: A Vocation and a Path to Holiness”.
The focus is on reaching out to families all over the world by celebrating WMOF in every diocese, linking these local events to those happening in Rome.
Over the next four days, we will be publishing personal stories from people in our diocese who have different experiences of family.
We begin with the Wordsworth family, from Middlesbrough…
Can you give a brief description of your family and briefly explain what makes them tick?
Empty nest, retirement, becoming grandparents. All wonderful stages in life, which we have been lucky enough to embrace in the past decade. We met at university and married in our early 20s. Our children, now in their 30s, are married and both live within an hour’s drive of us. In the past nine years we have been blessed with four grandchildren and we regularly provide childcare for our youngest two, who are aged three and four.
How do you demonstrate “family love”?
The essence of our family has always been based on love, honesty and trust. Hugs, kisses and physical contact – which we found so hard to lose during the lockdowns – have always been very important to us.
What are the challenges and the rewards/high points in your family?
In the late 1990s, we decided to escape the “rat race” in Surrey and relocated our family back to Middlesbrough. This was quite a challenge – changing jobs and moving our children at the ages of nine and 10. We are now a retired married couple. Our children left the nest very early compared to many families nowadays and we have had a few years on our own rediscovering the joys of “coupledom”. Life has had its challenges in recent years, including caring for two parents in their 90s at a distance. However, these challenges are far outweighed by the joy of being grandparents.
How does God’s love show itself in your family and what helps you get through the difficult times?
Providing regular childcare to our grandchildren is tiring but also a real joy and a privilege. We plan our other commitments around it and due to shift work, the days and times of childcare vary from week to week. So planning our diaries can be complicated. However, having a four-year-old run through your door shouting “Grandma” at the top of their voice and desperate for a hug is, to us, God’s love in action. Knowing we are loved and trusted, no matter what, by our grandchildren, is a demonstration of how God loves us.
In what ways do you think family life is a vocation or a “way to holiness”?
We chose married life in our 20s and feel it is very much a vocation. Sharing your life with someone is a huge privilege and blessing, but also involves sacrifices and a big helping of selflessness. We have survived so far by talking openly and honestly with each other, especially when life has thrown challenges at us. We also never go to sleep on an argument. We are lucky enough to have wonderful support from a wider network of friends and extended family. For more than 30 years we have also been members of an international group for married couples called Teams of our Lady, which has been a huge support to us. In times of crisis and severe illness, knowing all these people are praying for us has been a source of great comfort.
In unity with families and dioceses around the world, members of our own diocesan Bishop’s Council for Marriage and Family Life have arranged several events that will mark the importance of family in our diocese and acknowledge the fundamental place of families as part of the Global Church.
We will be marking the start of the WMOF on Wednesday June 22 by celebrating Mass in each of the deaneries, in the following churches:
Northern Deanery: St Thérèse of Lisieux, Ingleby Barwick
Central Deanery: Our Lady’s Church, Acomb
Southern Deanery: Our Lady of Lourdes and St Peter Chanel, Hull
Coastal Deanery: St Peter’s Church, Scarborough
You are all warmly invited to attend one of these Masses to mark the beginning of this event. These Masses have been arranged for the early evening (6pm), so families can come and be home for bedtime.
We will end the event with a Mass to celebrate family at 5pm at the cathedral on Sunday June 26, with Bishop Terry presiding.We recognise that travelling all the way to Middlesbrough may not be feasible for everyone (hence our deanery Masses), but we do hope as many of you as possible will be able to come along to that special Mass in the cathedral to celebrate family life.
For this Mass, we hope each parish can send a “representative” family to reflect the diverse mix of families across our diocese.
Each family will be encouraged to bring a symbol to represent their experience of family life, and these will form part of the offertory procession.