Families come first at Downingtown parish’s festival

Kevin Hagan

Document Publication: CatholicPhilly.com

Publication Date: May 02, 2017

Today’s culture sometimes seems to celebrate individual lives and values above all else, but no one told that to the hundreds who gathered at St. Joseph Parish in Downingtown on Sunday, April 30 for the Family Fully Alive Festival. There, family came first.

The day centered around pro-family, pro-life and pro-dignity messages from speakers and exhibitors. As Msgr. Joseph McLoone, pastor at St. Joseph’s put it, the festival provided the opportunity “for families to be strengthened so that they can live out their role in society and feel blessed in that role and in their vocation.”

A trio of keynote speakers headlined the festival. First up was internationally known speaker and author Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, who spoke on practical techniques to guide young persons and keep them focused on faith.

Among the topics he covered was marriage preparation. “It’s my favorite thing,” he said.

The married father of four referenced St. Joseph and Mary by speaking of the similarities and differences between marriage in ancient times and now, and the strong faith required by Joseph to accept his wife’s pregnancy by God.

Today love is still built on strong faith, the deacon noted in his high energy talk. The clear takeaway was the beauty and sanctity of marriage and children.

Among the reactions was that of Michelle Lenker, who attended with her husband Joe and young daughter Emily. “It was a reminder to me of what a privilege it is to carry a child,” she said.

Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, president and CEO of Servant Enterprises, delivers the keynote address April 30 at St. Joseph Parish, Downingtown.

The Lenkers are members of neighboring St. Peter’s in West Brandywine, a sign of how the festival drew from parishes other than St. Joseph’s.

The privilege of motherhood was also implicit in the strong message exemplified by several groups offering information on the damaging effects of abortion – on the unborn child, obviously, but also on the woman.

One such exhibit table was that of Rachel’s Vineyard, an international group that offers counselling and consolation to women who have experienced the trauma of abortion.

“We grieve along with the women,” said Evelyn Walsh, representing the organization. Catholics as well as non-Catholics are welcome to Rachel’s Vineyard in Doylestown, as are men – anyone who needs healing.


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