Marian Family Congress at Torreciudad
On September 17, 2011, the Archbishop of Madrid and president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, presided over the 22nd Marian Family Congress at the Shrine of Torreciudad, an event which brought together some 16,000 people from all over the country in a festive and family atmosphere. The congress began at midday with the reading of the Prayer for Families and an offering to our Lady. Then Holy Mass was celebrated on the esplanade of the shrine.
Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to the participants exhorting them “to be a sign of hope for today’s society,” and encouraging spouses “not to give up in their effort to be a point of reference for their children, who need to discover in their constant example the face of true love.”
During the Eucharistic celebration the singing was provided by the choir from the parish of St. Josemaría Escrivá in Valencia, accompanied by the titular organist of the shrine, Maite Aranzabal. During his homily, the Cardinal said that “God is with man in an extraordinarily close and intimate way, so that we human being can make the path of our life a path of salvation and glory.” And he stressed that “to discover God’s closeness we need to take a first step of faith, to believe in Jesus Christ ‘firm in the faith,’ as Benedict XVI said to the young people a few days ago.”
The Archbishop of Madrid, speaking to the families present there, continued: “life is a beautiful and at the same time dramatic story, in which parents need to teach children to struggle, to overcome themselves, to fight against the insidiousness of evil. And victory means holiness, man’s true vocation.” The Cardinal ended by encouraging those present to “trust in our Lady, in Mary’s tender and maternal love, who never abandons us, for she is the Mother of Grace and of Mercy.”
After the Mass several musical events were held. The conference concluded with the traditional offering of children to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the praying of the Rosary in the esplanade, accompanied by the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Torreciudad, and Benediction with the Holy Eucharist.
National TV channel 13 provided a live transmission of some of these activities in a program presented by Inmaculada Galvan and Fr. Javier A. Sandoica, noted for their work during the World Youth Day. The Conference could also be followed over the internet.
More than 200 volunteers helped out in the organization of the gathering: in providing parking and access to the shrine, in the nursery, in the accommodations for the pilgrims, in the information booths, and in the children’s play area. Dozens of priests manned the confessionals scattered throughout the shrine.
Romana, n. 53, July-December 2011, p. 288-289.