In addition to highlighting the diocese’s anti-poverty efforts, Bishop Sullivan used the occasion to award eight diocesan families with tickets to attend the World Meeting of Families theological congress in Philadelphia.
The families each entered an essay contest sponsored by Catholic Charities to attend the four-day event.
The winners were:
— the Reemer family (mother Alice, father David, and children Zachary and Zoe), from Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, Linwood;
— the Shields family (mother Vickey, and children Kathleen, James, and Christopher), from St. Gabriel the Archangel, Carneys Point;
— the Bocanegra family (Mahil and Elcy), from St. John Neumann, North Cape May;
— the Cuentas family (sisters Jamaila and Camille, cousin Junelle, and aunt Eva), from Our Lady of Hope, Blackwood;
— Christina Silvaria and Stephen Ellsworth from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Collingswood;
— the Cotto family (mother Ivene Cotto, father Pedro A. Reyes, and children Rosa Maria Reyes and Lizmarie Reyes), from Mary, Queen of All Saints, Pennsauken; and
— the Arey family (mother Nancy, and children Grace, Nicholas, and Elizabeth), from St. Mary, Gloucester City.
Jamaila Cuentas, 28, wrote and submitted her family’s winning essay, in which she hopes for the “conversion of (my) family.”
The three others she is attending the congress with all “have prayed together a lot,” but she prays for those members of her family who lost their faith along the way.
“I grew up with my cousins, and aunts and uncles, in a tight-knit family, that would fill rows of pews at Immaculate Heart Church in Woodlynne,” she said, but the passage of time and new homes, jobs, and priorities has caused some of her family to drift from the faith.
“Family is such a big part of my life, and I feel very blessed,” she said.
“With the joy and peace I find in Jesus, I want that for them.”
For more information on 40 Days of Francis, visit www.catholiccharitiescamden.org/40days