By Brittany Wilson | Social Media Coordinator
For many, the Sept. 22-25 World Meeting of Families in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, is a chance to meet people from different countries and backgrounds, all in the name of strengthening family life worldwide.
One of those people is Josue Arriola, director of the diocesan Department of Youth, Marriage and Family Life.
“I’m working with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, helping and introducing myself to all the people that are coming from different areas, especially the people who come and speak Spanish,” said Arriola, from an information table set up on the concourse between exhibit halls D and E. “My goal here is to welcome them and to talk about Jesus. If there’s the opportunity to pray for them, we pray for them, we talk about family; we talk about everything that is related to faith.”
For Arriola, the World Meeting is not an event he will easily forget.
“It’s an exciting moment and I’m happy to be here,” he said.
That happiness stems from helping others as they navigate the convention center and their faith.
“There are so many people, and the good thing here is that people come with their own needs – they are looking for something – so we are here to help them,” Arriola said. “We found many families that we have prayed with together and we share some of the faith.”
While Arriola has been a wealth of information for the many people he has encountered so far, they also have had the chance to teach him – whether they know it or not.
“(In helping the faithful) we learn how they live their faith in their own countries,” he said.
One group from Africa really impressed Arriola with the joy the showed in being Catholic as a family. Other people he met reminded him of home.
“I found people from Mexico and El Salvador, and I know how they live their faith in those countries but it was good to hear that again,” said Arriola, who is a native of Guatemala. “I’ve been out of my country for more than 15 years, so to see that the fire and the love of Jesus Christ is still there is great.”
As for what he looks forward to most about the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ historic visit, Arriola had a simple answer: many benefits for families.
“We know that we are going to get so many graces for our families. We know that families are struggling, but we get to work with them and bring hope and joy to their lives,” he said. “All the things we are going to be hearing through this week will give a solid foundation to keep working to strengthen the family, as well as on their faith and to get closer to God.”