Pope Francis to address 3 ‘challenges’ faced by Filipino families in MOA Arena event

MANILA, Philippines—Thousands of Filipino families from all over the country will have the rare opportunity to have an intimate audience with Pope Francis on January 16 during the “Meeting of Families” which will be held at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.

According to Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, the said event will convene families who are faced with the “three most difficult challenges” present in the contemporary Philippine society: poverty, migration, and disability.

The gathering will have the theme “The Holy Family’s Journey is the Pilgrimage of Every Family” and will be the Pope’s first time to lead an event of its kind.

Sectoral ‘dialogue’

Fr. Dennis Soriano, the liturgist in-charge of the encounter, said that three families, each representing one sector, will be able to share their experiences in a “dialogue” with Pope Francis.

No mass will be held in the “Meeting of Families”, but will only feature Gospel reading and a reflection from Pope Francis. The pope will then bless the families present.

Source of strength

In an interview with Radio Vaticana, Tagle said that he hopes that the encounter of Pope Francis with Filipino families will strengthen his faith.

The cardinal also said that Pope Francis is expected to give a “word of comfort” to the families present in the assembly.

“One thing we are focusing on is his meetings with families and with young people in Manila. But even in those encounters he will listen to stories of families in difficulty, those who have suffered different typhoons in life, and he will listen to young people. There is a kind of typhoon, as I said, that doesn’t happen in one place only – it happens everywhere. The Pope will listen and he will give them a word of comfort. But I hope for more: I hope that he, the Pope, will be strengthened in his own faith by these poor people,” he said.

Chosen few

Each archdiocese, diocese, and prelature in the country will send 100 delegates to the event.

According to Pasig Bishop Mylo Vergara, the chairman of the Papal Visit 2015 Committee on Media and Information, the by-invitation only event will be a “respectful encounter” between the Pope and his flock.

Although the MOA Arena can accommodate 20,000 people, Vergara said that Pope Francis requested that not all areas be occupied so that he can have eye contact with the delegates.

“Vatican organizers said the Holy Father wants the event to really be a personal encounter,” Vergara explained.

Stars also in attendance

Aside from the families hailing from various parts of the country, a celebrity family and performers will also grace the assembly.

Actress Boots Anson-Roa Rodrigo and her husband King, will play vital roles in the “Meeting of the Families.” The family matriarch, Remedios Enriquez Rodrigo, along with her two grandchildren, will present a garland to welcome Pope Francis. Meanwhile, King Rodrigo will read a message for the pope in behalf of all families present.

Meanwhile, two singers will perform in the event: “The Voice Kids” winner Lyca Garinod who will be singing “Tell the World of His Love”, the song used in the 1995 World Youth Day and papal visit of St. John Paul II in Manila; and Inspirational Diva Jamie Rivera who will sing ““We Are All God’s Children”, the official hymn for Pope Francis’ visit in the country.

The pope will arrive in the Philippines late Thursday afternoon from Sri Lanka for a five-day apostolic visit.

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