A delegation of about 20 people from the Diocese of Buffalo will attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. The mixed group of parents, grandparents, educators, clergy and vowed religious will attend keynote addresses and breakout sessions dealing with parents as catechists, concerns of the urban family, marriage and vocations.
The delegates will return to Buffalo to form a commission that will serve as a consultative body to Bishop Richard J. Malone to help the bishop care for families, promote family life and help those who struggle.
Nancy Scherr, director of Family Life Ministries, who has three grown children with her husband, Deacon Thomas Scherr, considers the meetings to be a "fun venture."
"Our mission to Philadelphia is to go as a delegation, to travel together, and to gather information as we go to these keynote sessions and listen to the speakers as well as the breakout sessions, and be able to gather information so that when we come back we can fulfill the expectations that we asked of you in the beginning, which is to pray and meet monthly. As a group we will study the social and cultural forces that affect families in our life and our community. We will consult Church teaching and the report that will come from the synod," she told the delegation.
Bishop Richard J. Malone stopped by the meeting after opening the new school year at Catholic Academy of West Buffalo. He thanked everybody for taking part in the pilgrimage to Philly.
"It really is historic. There's no question about that," Bishop Malone said. "I think the most important thing is the enrichment that each of us will gain from this moment of solidarity with the families, and secondly, what wisdom and creative ideas can you bring down to the diocese as we take up Pope Francis' theme. His theme of the Synod (on the Family) is: how can the Church more effectively accompany families and individuals in families, considering all the situations families find themselves in? Whether it's divorced situations and remarriage, or same-sex attraction, all those things and many more."
Topics of breakout session include parents as primary catechists, role models, concerns of the urban family, marriage, and promoting human dignity in the home.
Michael Gilhooly, assistant director of Buffalo's Response to Love Center, is trying to go into the meetings without any preconceived notions of what will happen. "I think it is easy to over prepare. I want to go there as a sponge and just absorb and experience what is being presented," he said.