A special focus on the family

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Bishop Ricken

This month and next month will be dedicated internationally, nationally and locally to the beauty of marriage and family life. The “World Meeting of Families” will be taking place in Philadelphia and Pope Francis is coming to the United States for the very first time. The Holy Father will also visit Washington, D.C., and New York City.

The World Meeting of Families takes place in various parts of the world every three years and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was chosen to host the event this year from Sept. 24 to Sept. 27.

This is also a wonderful opportunity for the Diocese of Green Bay, as 100 of us will be on pilgrimage to Philadelphia for the world meeting and to attend the papal Mass with the Holy Father on Sunday, Sept. 27. The culminating Mass will be the apex of several days of learning and prayer with the other families from around the world.

During our visit, pilgrims from the Diocese of Green Bay will have a chance to visit some of the important shrines of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, as well as some of the important sites of this country’s early founding. What a privilege!

I will be praying for each and every one of your families and I encourage you to pray over these next two months for the safety of the Holy Father and his special intentions and for all of the pilgrims who will be in attendance at the special event. After the world meeting, please join me in praying for the Synod on the Family, which will take place Oct. 4-25 at the Vatican.

Church leadership faces a very strenuous challenge to hold up the values of marriage and family as Jesus taught us and to help and acknowledge that it is not easy to live out the vocation of marriage and family life with all of the challenges of our day. It has never been easy, but cultural trends today make it even more difficult. We need to pray for the Synod Fathers and the Holy Father during these next weeks as they discern in October the best ways to face up to these challenges and to assist those who are embracing this vocation now and in the future.

Painting of Holy Family by Sr. Mariella Erdmann, OSF.

Since these are special months for the family this year, I asked a local artisan, Sr. Mariella Erdmann, OSF — who has “written” some beautiful icons at Silver Lake College of the Holy Family — to create a painting we could use for a reminder to pray during this time for the success of these two important gatherings on the family. Sr. Mariella has finished the painting, at right, in which she has depicted Jesus as a teenager and has highlighted the circle of love that exists between Jesus, Mary and Joseph. I am grateful to her for her work.

We are including it with the prayer composed by the Holy Father (see prayer below) for these special events as a “cut out” so that you can clip out and put them on your refrigerator door or bulletin board at home as a reminder to join the pope and all of us spiritually during these next weeks and months.

Thanks for all you do for marriage and family! God bless you and God bless all families!

Pope Francis’ Prayer to the Holy Family

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
In you we contemplate
the splendor of true love,
to you we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel,
and small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection, and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may the approaching Synod of Bishops
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, graciously hear our prayer. Amen.