Greetings To The Holy Father In
Cardinal Eugenio de Araujo Sales, Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro
OCTOBER 5, 1997
MARACANÁ STADIUM: October 4th:
Quotes from the Families greeting the Holy Father
Richard Caiuby: Holy Father, your presence fills us with great joy. In the name of thousands of people from the five continents, that fill this stadium, and in the name of those united with us through a world-wide transmission via satellite, we wish to express our profound gratitude for your-desire to keep this second appointment with the families of the whole world, this time at Rio de Janeiro. We are so grateful that you are once again with us, the families of the world, to continue that marvelous dialouge, which you started at the first world meeting at St. Peters Square in 1994, the year dedicated to the family.
Angelica: The title of this second world meeting is "The family, gift and commitment, hope for humanity". In todays festive atmosphere, the family, full of joyful gratitude for the gifts received will commit itself to be a gift for humanity. We come from Piracicaba (Brazil) and we have seven children. While introducing these first witnesses, we are struck and fascinated by the fact that you, Holy Father, in your precious teaching on the family, indicate love as the basic element that forms the family, that interior and continuous dynamism, that leads to a more profound communion amongst its members.
Ricardo: In todays world there is a great thirst for this communion, which is the basic element that builds the family as an authentic community of persons. We also have seen this in our various contacts as a couple in the service of the Church for the family. I can personally testify to this, having in my youth faced the suffering caused by the divorce of my parents.
Thomas: In Japan a very intense pace regulates life. Communication in the family is diminishing. As to our family, each one of us was living only to fulfill ourselves to the point that our bond was breaking apart. We were thinking of separating but the concern for our daughters kept us from doing so.
Martha: Nine years ago, by chance, we entered a Roman Catholic Church for the first time. After a year, we were baptized. We started a journey of faith and we realized that G od had to become the center of our lives. Art this point we began to rebuild the relationship between ourselves and with our children. We understood that we have to accept one another as we are, even with all our faults. We have learned to listen to each other and to be ready to say Im sorry and to forgive one anothers mistakes, according to the law of reciprocal love that Jesus taught us.
Thomas: We have understood the equal dignity of man and woman and the value of fidelity. The success in our professions has become secondary in our life. We now give more time to our family, which has resulted in better communication between us, which, in turn, led to an increased harmony and development in our children. We are no longer afraid of the future. We discovered that in God, our love can be renewed every day.
Paola (16 yrs. Old): Now, in our house there is an atmosphere of peace and serenity. Instead of scolding us our parents try to explain to us, so it is easier for us to understand and obey. I try to bring about this way of life in the places I frequent, especially with my friends and teachers at school.
Gemma (13 yrs. Old): I did not like cleaning my room. However, seeing Paola doing so, I have started cleaning it every day.
Gioia (9 yrs. Old): One evening I asked Jesus to help me to be always ready to love. The next morning, I gave my sister a lamp which was given to me as a present ad which she liked a lot. Later, I helped to set the table and I helped my father in the washroom. My heart was filled with joy.
Faria Family - Porto Alegre - Brazil
Ines: Holy Father, we come from Porto Alegre (Brazil). After five years of marriage my husband left me with two children, 4 and 3 years old. I felt betrayed and humiliated in my dignity as a woman and mother. Very soon after, my husband started another family and our children used to spend the summer holidays with him. On their retun they asked me many questions: why is there another woman? Why does papa want to be with other children? They were the same questions I asked myself, and to which humanly speaking-one can find no answer. It was at this time, when life had no more meaning for me, that, through the testimony and closeness of persons who are profoundly Christian, I discovered that God is love. From then on, I no longer felt alone. I felt loved and sustained by God. He has become the rock of my life. This helped me remain faithful to the sacrament of marriage and to overcome all the difficulties.
Jorge Danilo: When my mother answered our questions, she encouraged us to love our father. She never showed resentment or anger for what he had done to us. She spoke to us about him with great understanding and mercy. My sister and I have grown up without any traumas. Reciprocal love among us makes us feel like a real family.
Nalu: One day when I was 15 years old, I was particularly sad. I wanted my father to be back with us. My brother reminded me that there was God to fill our lives, while the other children of our dad did not experience this love. I try to keep up the relationship with my father through letters and telephone calls even if I do not always get a reply. I feel that I can love my father not only as his daughter but also in a certain way even as a mother to him.
Laura Molla: Holy Father, my name is Laura and I would like to read to you the witness of our father, Pietro Molla, who could not be with us today.
"Gianna loved life and the beautiful things of life. With the help and blessing of God together, we have tried to put into practice in our family that Sacrament of Love, which we shared as a gift to each other. We shared the certitude that each human life is sacred because it is a gift from God, and that the human creature, with its inalienable right to life, is definitely so since the time of conception. When Gianna met the mystery of suffering, she was a great example, even to me. Through her, I have found the courage to be faithful to my Christian vocation, being able to love more."
Gianna Emanuela: Dear mother, thank you for giving me life twice: when you conceived me and when you let me see the light of life, deciding to let me live. You have crowned your exemplary existence with a love that knows no limit. So, in my life I want and I try to be a natural continuation of your life, of your joy of living, of your enthusiasm. My life will find full meaning in the commitment and dedication to those who are most in need. Dear mother, protect and help all mothers and all families, who turn to you and confide in you.
Pol Marie: Holy Father, we come from Belgium. Twenty years ago our third child left prematurely to heaven. We strongly felt the loving presence of God, Our Father. Out of the pain of our suffering a flame was lit: the hope that the little seed that fell into the ground would bear fruit. We felt called to open our home to children without parents, to disadvantage children, to children hurt in body or mind. This journey frightened us a lot and we felt very small; but we also felt sure that if we answered this call the Lord was going to be even nearer to us.
Christine: In fact, God called us to become parents to 19 children: nine of which are gifts of our natural parenthood and the other ten have been adopted. Some of them are handicapped. Our adopted children are Helene and Emilie, who come from Haiti, Simon and Pauline from India, Marie Noelle and Bruno from Colombia, Joachim from the Ivory Coast, Judith from Brazil and Virginie and Alice from Belgium. What great joy it is, to see these children live in the warmth of a family! They have transformed our hearts. They helped us to discover true life, change our priorities and our scate of values, increase our selflessness and not worry about our tranquillity and promote solidarity, which also helps many other families.
Mathieu: Fourteen years ago my parents gave me life; they already had nine other children. I know that I was desired and received as a gift. I am proud that my parents love life and defend it. The openness of our family to other children enhances my respect for diversity.
Simon-Pierre: I am so happy to have been welcomed in a family, where I feel loved and respected the way I am. This helps me to face life, which is not always easy for me. My wish for all the children is that they may find a family like the one I have.
Raposo Gordillo Family-Spain
Chari: Your Holiness, we come from Spain, where we have left our sextuplets, that you can see on the big screen. I suffered from gynecological disorders, so after our marriage I underwent a hormone treatment. Meanwhile Myriam was born, and she is here with us. My disorders persisted, so I had to continue the treatment. Then I became pregnant with 8 embryos. At first we were scared and preoccupied. The doctors gave us a weeks time to decide for total abortion or selecting the embryos-keeping alive some of them and eliminating the rest. We asked ourselves; how could we possibly face the children that will be alive without thinking of the ones that we had eliminated? We put ourselves in front of God. It was very clear to us that we could not touch the life given to these children by God himself. Only He is the Lord of life and death.
Miguel Angel: Together with Chari we decided to abandon ourselves to the Will of God. Since then, we felt a great peace in our hearts. Journalists and reporters were trying to invade our privacy, but in spite of our modest conditions-I am a bricklayer-we did not want in any way to commercialize this event. On December 5th, through a cesarean delivery, 2 girls and 4 boys were born. As for the other 2, the elimination happened in a natural way, something that made the medical doctors change their minds about the necessity of selective abortion in similar cases. We must say that this means a lot of work; for example every day we have to prepare 42 baby bottles. Our relatives, neighbors and friends from our church community help us in many ways, even during the night. We experienced the miracle of Divine Providence that arrives in so many different ways (a station wagon, land to build a larger house, etc.) This is a tangible expression of the great love of God for us, for life.
Leo Van den Broek: Your Holiness, you know very well that life is threatened not only at its beginning. We are Leo and Toos and we come from Holland. Last April, we lost Bram, one of our five children. He was twenty years old. At the age of 18, when he was full of life, a serious cerebral sickness made him as dependent as a one year old child. He had to be fed through a tube. The doctors were of the opinion that, as the quality of his life had become very poor; they might terminate it because it was losing its value. We refused this proposal. Unitl January he was with us at home when he suddenly got worse and we had to take him to hospital.
Taos: We could see that even if Bram did not talk he could recognize us, he continued to transmit the reality of a human being, which loves and is loved. We were convinced that Bram had to leave us only at the natural end of his days. We realized that our ideas were slowly making the doctors and nurses change their minds. The long weeks that followed were lived very intensely, even by them. So it is possible, even for the family, to instill and strengthen in the consciences the sacred value of human life in all its phases and conditions.
Margaret: Last year, the precious value of life touched us in two ways. On the one hand our entire family, three of them teenagers, joyously welcomed into this world Benjamin, our fifth child who is now 7 months old. On the other hand, Kevin initiated and brought to fruition a bill to oppose to the practice of euthanasia.
Kevin: It was a very difficult and hard period that demanded much time and energy. Moreover, we were often far away from each other, and this created in us doubts and misunderstandings. At one stage it appeared as though the bill would not even be debated, much less voted upon. Eventually, instead, it got through by a very narrow aware of the sacred value of life. For us it was the proof that the sense of helplessness that pervades contemporary society can be overcome by goodness, prayer and perseverance.
Ynonne Solange: You surely remember, Holy Father, that on the occasion of your visit to Rwanda in 1990, people spoke to you about their problems and you replied that Rwanda is the land of a thousand hills, a thousand problems, but also the land of a thousand solutions. The gift of this childrens town is one of the solutions you have found for Rwanda. Today Rwanda faces the problem of orphans an abandoned children. We want to thank you for this gift, Holy Father, and we also want to thank you for the blessings and their support in this initiative.
Larry: The love, liberty and openness toward other experienced in our family helped us to overcome the usual difficulties of all adolescents and to build authentic relationships among ourselves and with others. For us, our family was a training that prepared us for life. Now I am married to a Cuban woman and we have baby son. We are very united, and we want to be a family open to the world.
Michelle: Many roads were opening in front of me when I understood my vocation to consecrate my whole life to God in virginity. Two years ago I began my formation in a work of the Church. A few years earlier, my brother Joe made the same choice. He lives out his consecration as a member of a group dedicated to evangelization by means of music.
Pina Family Brazil
Roberto: We live in Joac Pessca (northeast of Brazil) after having spent five years in the service of the Church in Angola. When we were asked to go there, we felt it was a call from God. We shared this with our five children, one of whom is an adopted child. First we had the opportunity to work in the diocese of Luanda and in other dioceses, helping families afflicted with material and moral needs, caused by war. We shared with them hunger, terror, sickness and lack of resources.
Miriam: We were entrusted with organizing marriage preparation courses and with teaching natural family planning, the latter given during courses on morality at the Diocesan Seminary and at the Institute of Religious Studies, attended by catechists. At the Diocesan Consulting Center we met daily with a great number of women, married and engaged couples. We were impressed by the African cultures love for life and by the suffering caused by sterilization campaigns and abortions promoted by materialistic ideologies. The proposal of natural family planning was received with enthusiasm, almost as an opportunity to rescue a value threatened by extinction. This is the situation in which Joel, our sixth child was born. In Brazil, perhaps, we would have been criticized for this choice, there instead we were applauded. The experience with the people of Angola has been a great enrichment, even for our children. We felt that we were one people, one family with them.
Farag Family Egypt:
Munir: Holy Father, we can never thank you enough for all you do to confirm the rights of the family, for being the Voice of the familys expectations to Governments and institutions. We come from Egypt, where there are still strong contradictions about marriage as an institution. We run a center for the formation of families in Cairo, as desired by the Egyptian Conference of Bishops. We also have contacts with other doctors and Muslim couples, and we surprisingly find that the values that form the basis of Christian marriage can also be accepted and shared by them.
Mona: The family, the first and most vital cell of society, with its particular function of educating and caring for the generations, plays an active role in building our society.
Munir: Yet, it is not rare to see families acting as anchors of social solidarity to respond to urgent needs left without a solution by the institutions themselves. From this stadium, the families are going to foster the preferential option for the poor and to launch an innovative proposal for social and economic structures.
Calimim Family - Philippines
Raylita: Holy Father, we come from the Philippines and we have four children. While we were working as missionary doctors amongst poor families, a concrete possibility to emigrate to the U. S. opened up for us. This would have been a dream come true because we were poor, but we choose to remain with our own people. After several years of working with the poor, we became resources for the family and the promotion of human dignity at national and international conferences. In this manner we could be the voice of our people and at the same time offer our expertise to those institutions concerned with family welfare.
Leo: An agency has funded our micro-enterprise project to alleviate 400 families from poverty. Now they are able to send their children to school, eat three times a day and enjoy good health. Recently, we have been awarded a Government grant to conduct annual medical examinations for 50,000 workers in small companies. Although many had suffered from various illnesses, they had never been to a doctor. We thoroughly examine each patient, often spending our own resources for medicines and services not covered by the grant. Concerning our American dream, we remain a poor family. We do not live in a mansion or own a luxurious car. We only what is necessary: our health is the Gospel that gives us the strength to love. This is our happiness and fulfillment.
Macchiut Family Argentina
Alfredo: We come from Buenos Aires. Our youthful ideas of solidarity crashed miserably against the arrival of our five children and our desire for advancing in our professional careers. The temptation of consumerism was very strong. Ten years ago we moved near a very poor area where 1500 families live. Floods often hit this area. Paradoxically, it is surrounded by a very modern highway and by a very rich neighborhood. I opened a medical clinic. With my feet often deep into the mud, I managed to visit mothers and children. I speak to the patients of my private clinic about our brethren living in this area. A chain of solidarity is triggered. One of these wealthy patients sends a load of foodstuffs regularly. Some teachers give their professional service. A friend of mine, a priest from Europe, sent a sum of money, which was equivalent to the wedding presents of a newly married couple.
Alicia: Through these signs of the love of God, the people in this area started little by little to discover their dignity, becoming the protagonists of their development. A group of mothers takes the responsibility of distributing the goods that arrive. They decided themselves what to do with these things according to the needs. An old house was transformed into a chapel, which is now the center of this living community. New help arrives from the parish: homes are visited, clothes are shared and professional help increases. Ten years have passed and the social situation has not changed much. Some families have succeeded to improve their situation, but new ones in worse condition arrive. Each time love pushes us to start again. We know that in each one of these brothers whom we serve, there is hidden the face of Jesus.
Leibhols Family (São Paulo, Brazil) and Neveux Family (France)
Eleusa and Rodolfo
husband together with his brother runs a foundry,
"Femaq", which employs 52 people. Since the
70s we have tried to gain a deeper knowledge of the
various social encyclicals, to be able to run our factory
according to Christian ethics, respecting fully the
rights of our employees and our social and fiscal
duties.With this in mind, since 1981, our factory takes
part in the Economy of Sharing: a project based on the
social teaching of the Church. This project proposes the
division of the profits according to the culture giving:
one part of the profits goes to the factory, another part
goes to the poor and a third part is used for the
formation of new generations in the culture of giving.
Andrë Heibhols: I work with my father and my uncle at Femaq. I share fully with them this project of the Economy of Sharing. It fulfills and offers me a new way of working and living. My five brothers and I, together with our cousins, are very proud of the fact that we do only work in a modern factory, but with the ideal that underlies this work.
Francois Neveux: In France, I run the "Societé des Etablissemnts Neveus" a factory that employs 100 workers. We build a variety of objects from septic tanks to small boats, from big refuse skips to pedal-boats, and organ pipes. When I hear about the Economy of Sharing, I saw my dreams come true. In it I saw a feasible and efficient method that can be proposed to the world on both economic and social levels. My wife supports me, and our firm, besides adhering to the proposal of sharing the profits is also ready to offer help in skills and technology to other emerging countries. Two years ago, here in Brazil, at Vargem Grande Paulista, a branch of "Rotogine" was created, with the full consent of the people in the area. Presently there are five shareholders.
Franciose Neveux: Challenges have not been lacking: not knowing the markets, difficulty in importing new materials but the enthusiasm and consciousness of working for God and for Brazil have helped us go ahead. Last year, the need for a more just world and the trust in Divine Providence helped us to decided to invest in Brazilian Society even using the savings from our pensions. Our children participate fully in our work and they too are happy to discover the outcome of this adventure. This is only a drop in the ocean of social problems that afflict our world; but in spite of its limits, through unity in the family and amongst families various solutions are found.
A Eucharistic Holy Hour organized by the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro took place in all parishes of the Archdiocese on Sept. 25th at 8PM for the intention of the 2nd World Meeting of the Holy Father with Families. At the opening of the hour all church bells rang throughout the city.
On Sept. 28th the first Festival of Catholic Gospel Music occurred in Rio. Called "Deus a Dez," which means literally "God is Ten" or "God is the max."
On Oct. 2nd all parishes of the Archdiocese held a prayer vigil throughout the night, beginning at 8PM, for the same intention.
Exhibition of "Treasures of the Parchment Collection of the Vatican Library," sponsored by the Vatican Library, the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio, and IBM. This exhibit is taking place at the National Museum of Art, from Sept. 10th to Oct. 5th.
Another exhibition is on display in Rio. "From the Land to the Nations: the Spread of Christianity during the Beginning Centuries," consisting of a collection of archeological murals. Organized by the Home, Culture, and Faith Society is on display from Sept. 29th to Oct. 12th.
Our Lady Aparecida, Patroness of Brazil.
Our Lady of Aparecida's novena begins on Oct. 4th, the first day of the Holy Fathers meeting with families. Her feast day is Oct. 12th. There will be a prayer gathering in all of the major cities of Brazil at the largest sport stadiums in those cities. The celebration will consist of the Rosary, song, and Benediction. This is the first time a national prayer gathering in honor of Our Lady of Aparecide will occur. Millions are expected to participate throughout the country.
Prayer, vigils and other related activities will also take place at the two world-renown tourist spots in Rio de Janeiro: the Sugar Loaf, and the Corcovado Mountain, a crowned by statue of Christ the Redeemer. The statue is approximately 90 feet tall with a base of 32 feet this contains a chapel that seats 150 people. The Archdiocese of Rio feels that this is a good opportunity to promote evangelization since these spots are major tourist attractions, as well as well-known points-of-interest for the Brazilian people.
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