byChristopher S. Pineo
BOSTON -- The same weekend that Blessed Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be canonized, the theme "Family: Forming Saints for Today" will be celebrated at the Archdiocese of Boston Catholic Family Festival and Conference with Mass, music, exhibits, food and cultural experiences.
According to director Father Michael Harrington, the Office of Outreach and Cultural Diversity chose the theme to demonstrate the importance of family in the lives of saints.
"The family is the first place that forms a young person's heart to receive the Lord, and therefore we wanted to honor that place. The family truly is the domestic Church and is the first place of formation for young people in the faith," Father Harrington said.
The day-long event, to be held April 26 at Boston College High School in Dorchester, brings together speakers, musicians and Boston ministries to share food, cultural performances and faith, with presentations in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
"We want to make sure that everyone feels that this is an event that they can benefit from, and that they will be most welcome to attend," Father Harrington said.
Father Matt Williams and Father Ed Riley will give talks for young people and children. The Spanish presentations will include Lino and Annette Bonilla, a couple from Puerto Rico with a music and evangelization ministry called "United in the Spirit" or "Unidos por el Espiritu." Portuguese speakers will hear from Father Cleidimar Moreira, a priest from Brazil with experience in the charismatic movement.
"We feel that this is an event that could be enjoyable for parents, grandparents, young people and children. It will be a wonderful faith event for all people," Father Harrington said.
Leiri Ruiz, who serves the Archdiocesan Young Adult Council, will serve as the master of ceremonies for the event.
The programs in English will include a talk from Leah Darrow, a former contestant on the reality television show "America's Next Top Model" who became a Catholic apologist after leaving the show.
"She felt empty, she felt like she needed something, and she realized that she needed God, and so she left. She left because she felt a deeper calling to send the message of being a woman in God's eyes and respecting yourself as a human being," Ruiz said.
An outdoor barbecue will include food from various cultural communities from throughout the Archdiocese of Boston.
"It's a way to kind of be introduced to another culture," said Lorna DesRoses, a member of the Office of Outreach and Cultural Diversity, who is helping with food service at the festival.
The festival will include a procession of flags from various nations, celebration of Mass, and programs for children.
For more information go to www.CatholicFamilyFestival.com or email Father Harrington CatholicFamilyFestival@RCAB.org or call 617-746-5794.
"We are a community that is united in our faith across many parishes and communities, and there is great value in coming together to see the universality of our Church -- that we are one body in Christ. These events offer an opportunity for the faithful to return to their communities rejuvenated, inspired and more hopeful," Father Harrington said.