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What a fantastic weekend we had in Albury for the National Association of Catholic Families Conference. Despite a long drive (did I mention it was 17hrs??) and hot weather at the start it was a fantastic time. The weekend kicked off with a prayer procession to the Marian Shrine at Thurgoona. I love the names of Australian towns, in fact one of our ways of breaking up the drive was to see who had the most creative pronunciation of places like : Goondiwindi, Boggabilla, Coonabarabran and Gilgandra.
The Conference had over 400 attendees, with LOTS of those being children of course, as you would expect at any decent Catholic family event!
The procession was great and warmed us up – spiritually and physically! It was a hot sunny day but it was a great chance to meet a smaller group of attendees before the main event began.
After dinner on Friday night there was a Family Concert and we were really spoilt with some great, funny performances, including Bishop Columba from the Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese. He has a proud Scottish heritage and we really enjoyed hearing him playing the bagpipes.
Watch the video here.
One of the talks linked the spirituality of the Desert Fathers with the mission of the family today. It was great to be inspired by being reminded that just living our ordinary call to holiness in the midst of the world has a power to transform the culture.
Having spent years in my late teens/early twenties in the Catholic Charismatic/Pentecostal movement, my youthful zeal was fed by talks about how, “God is going to do a mighty work through the Holy Spirit.” And, “We are the hope for the church.” It may perhaps have been my own shortcomings, but I saw this to mean that the rest of the church had it wrong. All those 2,000 years of Catholic heritage were no good to me. I needed a boppy song and a drumkit if I was really going to change the world. No disrespect meant here to those who worship in this way. It had more to do with my own arrogance and wanting to be anything but ordinary that led me to this thinking.
This talk, however, was very good at rooting any genuine power from God back to the wisdom of the Church and the actual lasting fruit in transforming the lives of individuals and eventually the culture itself.
Another challenging talk was about Creating Joyful Homes. How often do I say I love God and His Church but my face really says I love food, the internet, entertainment and comfort? How can I change myself and get my own stuff sorted so I can be a true witness to my kids? Andrew Mullins had some really good practical tips on this in his presentation.
Saturday night there was a Bush Dance, with all those old favourite progressive dances which Craig HATES as he only likes dancing with me. I asked him if it was the awkward position of having your personal space invaded by complete strangers of the opposite sex, or the fact that I am so gorgeous he doesn’t want to dance with anyone else. He said no, it is because he is such an unco dancer that he would be embarrassed to dance with other people.
The kids had a ball, however, especially doing the Hokey Pokey and all running into the middle during the chorus part.
You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out, you put your right foot in and you shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn around, that’s what it’s all about…
And I couldn’t help but mention the amazing preaching of Bishop Columba, who is not only skilled at the bagpipes but is an inspired and inspiring preacher. He was the main celebrant for Holy mass each day and this was a great blessing to everyone.
Have a great week everyone!