PHILADELPHIA—“I’ve never hugged so many people in my life!”
That’s the kind of atmosphere Margaret Loignon of Newberry has found in her four days at the World Meeting of Families.
Loignon, who attends St. Mark Church in Newberry, said she made the trip at the urging of her husband and because she thought it might give her some new perspectives on her role as pro-life coordinator at her parish.
She has learned plenty of things that will help her in her work, she said, but she has also experienced plenty of Christian love and fellowship through simply meeting and interacting with new people.
“There are thousands of people here from all these different countries, and I’ve never been with so many Catholics in one place,” Loignon said. “Everybody is warm and kind to each other. It makes you feel the heart of the Church, the big picture of being part of the Catholic church in the world.”
She said everyone seems anxious to acknowledge and greet each other, even cardinals who catch the eyes of the faithful, smile and nod as they pass by in procession at daily Mass.
Loignon said the daily keynote speeches and breakout sessions have provided a lot of good suggestions for enhancing family life and helping people energize their own personal faith.
“I’ve really learned that we can’t just continue with the status quo,” she said. “We have to get out there and shake up what we’ve been doing.”
On the morning of Friday, Sept. 25, she especially “The Joy of the Gospel of Life,” a keynote speech offered by Rick Warren, a nondenominational Christian pastor and author who is perhaps best known for his devotional book “The Purpose Driven Life.”
Loignon said Warren talked about the threats facing families, both from the secular culture and from insecurities within the family structure itself.
Warren said it was important that Catholics, and all Christians, focus on evangelization and revitalizing worship “so we can also revitalize our families.”
She said Warren explained that joy-filled families base their lives on the love of God, build themselves on purpose and “focus on becoming like Christ.”
“Read God’s Word and listen to him, learn what he wants you to do,” Warren said. “Focus on Christ because He is more interested in our character than your comfort.” Warren also said that joy-filled families live out the Gospel mission by showing love to others, serving them and sharing the Word of God with them.
Loignon also was inspired by another keynote speech offered by Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston. She said Cardinal O’Malley told the crowd that the “biggest decision” they can make is to show love to others.
“He told us that we are faithful to our mission as Christians only by passing love and the word of God on to others,” she said.
Cardinal O’Malley urged the thousands in the audience to carry on what they have learned at the World Meeting of Families by going out to “build a civilization of love” in the world, she said.