Pope Francis wants you and your family in Ireland

Denver’s Religious Travel International offers pilgrimage to World Meeting of Families 2018

Beauty, faith, joy, culture and Jesus will all be present at the World Meeting of Families this Aug. 18-27 in Dublin, Ireland – and Pope Francis wants you to be there.

The event will celebrate the family as the cornerstone of our lives, society and the Church, with the theme “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World.” The pope will join thousands of other families from around the world for the event.

“The pope is trying to give families some pragmatic ways to live their vocation as a family in society,” said John Magee, vice president of Religious Travel International based in Denver. “I think that if families can come away from the race of life to be able to pray together and experience the Universal Church and the message of this WMOF, they will see great fruits.”

RTI provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for families who would like to attend. It’s organizing not only a trip, but a pilgrimage that seeks to make the experience truly transforming for the whole family, through faith and history.

“We do everything in our hands to prepare a meaningful journey to add to the spiritual life of the person,” said Jane Luzietti, owner and managing director of RTI. “Many people hold back from these opportunities because sometimes they don’t know what comes out of a pilgrimage. [But] the Spirit works on these journeys. We’ve had great testimonies from people in the past.”

The conference will consist of a program of workshops, talks and discussions for adults; an engaging program for young people and fun activities for children – not to mention the festivals, exhibitions and charitable activities that will be available for families.

Other than providing a faith-filled trip through the WMOF and daily Masses, the pilgrimage will include trips to explore the beauty of creation and learn about the historical richness of Ireland.

“Many people trace their ancestry to Ireland and perhaps have never been or explored Ireland within the context of their faith,” Magee said. “Especially for them to be able to do that in a multigenerational way is an incredible thing to offer [to their children and parents].”

The group’s stay in Dublin will be at the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge, one of the finest in the city and located within walking distance of the conference center.

This privilege will allow families the space and freedom to embrace the message of the conference while being able to attend to the needs of their children and spend time together, Magee said.

Luzietti hopes to have representation from a variety of parishes in Denver and encourages parents to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity: “Being as a family is a big part of the conference. It shows your children that faith is important to you. Sometimes families don’t talk about the faith as much as they could.”

To contact RTI with any questions or to register by April 15, visit rtijourneys.com.

What:                 World Meeting of Families pilgrimage

When:                 Aug. 18-27, 2018

Where:                Dublin, Ireland

Cost:                    $4,142 (based on double occupancy)

Register:              rtijourneys.com

Deadline:             April 15

COMING UP: Past 25 years remembered, next 25 anticipated at More Than You Realize conference

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“Be not afraid!”

This was the rallying cry at the Aug. 11 More Than You Realize conference, echoing the very same call St. John Paul II gave exactly 25 years ago when he visited Denver for World Youth Day in 1993.

Over 5,000 faithful from across the Archdiocese of Denver filled the seats of the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland at what was the largest Catholic gathering in Colorado since WYD ’93. The all-day conference was presented in both English and Spanish tracks, featured a dynamic lineup of renowned Catholic speakers, and culminated in a powerful commissioning Mass.

The name More Than You Realize and consequently, the logo resembling an eyechart, stems from the idea that almost everything may appear a certain way at surface level, but upon closer inspection, it can be more than one realizes and seen in a different light. This is especially true when it comes to the Catholic Church.

Over 5,000 gathered at the Budweiser Events Center Aug. 11 for the More Than You Realize conference, which celebrated the last 25 years since World Youth Day in Denver and looked to the next 25. (Photo by Jason Weinrich)

In planning for nearly two years, pastors from each parish of the archdiocese hand-picked those parishioners and members of their community who they wished to attend the conference, which revolved around the idea of discipleship. Through engaging videos and talks given by speakers such as Chris Stefanick, Luis Soto and Dr. Edward Sri, attendees were invited to join a new movement of discipleship within the archdiocese, echoing the one sparked 25 years ago at World Youth Day.

“[I] had a great rejuvenating time at the More Than You Realize Conference,” said Alex Martinez, a parishioner at St. Pius X Parish. “I am excited to see the MTYR movement take shape.”

Brenda Garrett, a parishioner of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception said, “It was an amazing event, so blessed my pastor Father Ron from the Cathedral Basilica sent me. I am so proud to be part of this movement.”

The key to evangelization

Cardinal J. Francis Stafford spoke before Mass began about the impact of World Youth Day 1993 and the challenges the Church faces today.

“What does the summer of ’93 teach us about our present circumstances in 2018?” the cardinal asked. “The Holy Spirit was sent out in a special mission to our Church in 1993. The power of that sending was unexpected and disorienting to me as archbishop and to most others.”

Cardinal J. Francis Stafford speaks during the More Than You Realize conference. (Photo by Jason Weinrich)

But despite urban violence, threats of boycotts, organized protests and other issues prior to World Youth Day 1993, “a fundamental change took place in the Church of Denver,” said Cardinal Stafford, “but not only here — among the young people who came throughout the world, [and] even the Holy Father.

“Above all, our Church was transformed,” he said.

Cardinal Stafford said that to evangelize those who don’t know the Gospel, we first need “…a deep awareness of the delight of the Father taking in each of us as baptized men and women,” he said.

“I would urge you to think deeply and to pray deeply about realizing how delighted God is in you — each of you — because you are received by the Father as being [part of] the body of his Son, who is beloved.”

‘Jesus is much more than you realize’

In his homily given in both English and Spanish, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila also touched on what World Youth Day 1993 means for us today.

“The world likes to tell us many things about ourselves,” he said, “and not many of them today are good or uplifting. Just look at the distorted image of beauty that is prevalent today, let alone the distortions of what it means to be a human person…

“The devil is certainly having a field day in a world that has abandoned God, and even in some members of the Church who have a weak faith in Jesus,” he said.

But despite similar issues taking place in 1993, the pope brought to Denver a message of hope.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila celebrates the commissioning Mass that closed out the conference. (photo by Andrew Wright)

“When St. John Paul II spoke to the youth gathered for the prayer vigil on Saturday night at Cherry Creek State Park, he reminded them that God and a much bigger role for them to play in history,” said Archbishop Aquila.

That message is just as important today, within an archdiocese and Church that stand at a crossroads, the archbishop said.

“We have an opportunity to make a major impact for Jesus Christ, even as the surrounding culture is becoming less Christian.”

The pope opened the doors for those who attended to become greater disciples of Christ — not just directly after World Youth Day, but forever.

“St. John Paul II believed in retrospect that a revolution had taken place in Denver,” said the archbishop. “We, today, are the inheritors of this spiritual revolution, and we must not be afraid to put out into the deep to let our nets down for a catch.

“Jesus is much more than you realize. The Church is more than you realize. And your role in the plan of God is much more than you realize or [can] even imagine,” he said.

“And so, I beg you as your shepherd today to open your hearts to Jesus and speak heart-to-heart with him who loves you most.”

Aaron Lambert, Moira Cullings and Vladimir Mauricio-Perez contributed to this report.