WMF participants share their experience with families

By Michele Chan Santos
Senior Correspondent

The Celebration of Families Fully Alive, held Nov. 14 at Santa Cruz Parish in Buda, brought together hundreds of people for a joyful affirmation of the importance of family.
“It is in the heart of the family that we experience God,” said keynote speaker Schoenstatt Father Jesus Ferras, director of the Schoenstatt Movement in Austin. “We are one in the family of the church. Being a family is a gift that we have to safeguard.”
The event brought the energizing spirit of the recent World Meeting of Families (held Sept. 22-25 in Philadelphia) to the Diocese of Austin. The highlight of the World Meeting of Families was the visit by Pope Francis. 
In his remarks, Father Ferras related the words of Pope Francis, “Being family today is a ministry. It is not something you can take for granted.”
At the local Celebration of Families Fully Alive, several speakers who had been to the World Meeting of Families shared their experiences. The bilingual conference was organized by the Office of Evangelization, Catechesis and Family Life of the Diocese of Austin. 
Oscar and Rosalba Aldama, who traveled to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, spoke as part of a panel. They are parishioners of St. Martin de Porres Parish in Dripping Springs.
“It was our honeymoon,” said Rosalba. “We have been married for 17 years and we never had a honeymoon. For me, it was an encounter with God.”
At the conference, the Aldamas saw a couple they had not seen for two years. “This was a couple that I was upset with, angry with,” Rosalba said. But God showed her a different way.
In Philadelphia, there was a grotto dedicated to “Mary, the Undoer of Knots.” People wrote their challenges and struggles on white ribbons of fabric and tied their “knot” to the grotto. Then they would untie someone else’s “knot” and pray for that person and their intentions.
Rosalba wrote her intentions on the white fabric, tied the ribbon on, and then untied another ribbon to pray for someone else.
Incredibly, out of the thousands of ribbons, she had untied the knot of the couple she knew, the ones who had upset her. 
“I realized it was God saying I have to pray for and forgive these people. I have to pray for their intentions. We are all brothers and sisters in this world,” Rosalba said.
Oscar talked about how when they traveled to Philadelphia, he was initially worried over some details of their trip. But once he attended the conference, “I realized how we had everything easy,” he said. “I saw families that had traveled from many different countries, some with little children who had disabilities.”
Because of the people he met, Oscar said, he realized “God was telling me I don’t need to be comfortable to follow him.”
Families Fully Alive drew people from all over the diocese. Lily and David Reyes attended with their daughters Gabrielle, 23, and Briana, 22. All four are catechists at Cristo Rey Parish in Austin. Lily and David teach confirmation classes, and Gabrielle and Briana teach Kindergarten and first-grade religious education.
Marilyn and David Klaus are Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) instructors at Sacred Heart Parish in Rockne. 
“We just felt like we could learn some more,” Marilyn Klaus said about why they chose to attend. “If you ever quit learning, then you’re doing something wrong,” she said.