Samour family traveling to Rome for the World Meeting of Families

Jake and Ramie Samour have been invited to the 10th World Meeting of Families to be held later this month in Rome. They’ll be going as a family. (Courtesy photo)

The “What I Did This Summer” essay in the fall will be a bit more interesting than planned for Jake and Ramie Samour’s six children.

Last February, their parents received a letter from the Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone inviting them to the 10th World Meeting of Families on June 22-26 in Rome. The ordinary of the Archdiocese of San Francisco is the chairman of the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth.

Samour is the director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life and has been involved in marriage and family ministry for over 15 years. He is also chair of the Federation for Hispanic Family Ministry of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers.

The World Meeting of Families is the result of the 1994 International Year of the Family proclaimed by the United Nations, Samour said. “John Paul II at the time thought it would be good for the Church to also celebrate the family,” he said. “Ever since then, every three years, the World Meeting of Families takes place in a different location.”

First meeting held in 1994

The World Meeting was held in 1994 in Rome and in 2000 for the Jubilee Year. Another meeting was scheduled for 2021 but was postponed by the pandemic. Because the world is recovering from the pandemic, a general invitation to families was not issued, Samour said. Instead, invitations were issued by episcopal conferences to be part of a delegation of individuals, couples, and families to attend this year’s event.

The Samours were invited by Abp. Cordileone on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – but the invitation didn’t include airfare or room and board.

“When I got the letter I thought I would just frame it,” he said last week, “because there was no way with everything that’s going on in the world, all the restrictions, and traveling with kids – and I didn’t want to go by myself.”

Jake who has attended a number of World Youth Days and other major events later reconsidered attending the World Meeting – with his family.
Thanks to the generosity of family and organizations, including a local anonymous donor, he and Ramie are taking their six children ages 14 to four on an adventure to the Eternal City. “So we’re gearing up to travel to Rome to be part of this international event,” he said.

Invitation was humbling

Ramie said it was humbling and an honor to receive the invitation from Abp. Cordileone. “That’s wonderful. Kind of a dream come true. What’s the chance of that happening?” were her first thoughts, she said.

But the trip came together.

“The meeting’s theme: ‘Family Love: a Vocation and a Path to Holiness’ really resonates with us,” Jake said, “St. John Paul II always reminded families that the love shared in the family, particularly the spouse’s mutual love, is their path to God. The total gift that marriage and family requires is our vocation and our path to holiness.”

Ramie said she and Jake have participated in other worldwide church events, including a previous World Meeting of Families. “I left it thinking how much it resembled World Youth Day – a lot of people from all over the world with whom you share something so important in common. And you’re there to celebrate it.”

Family has grown since first WMF

The first time Ramie and Jake took part in a World Meeting of Families was in Mexico and their son, Carlos was a baby. “So now to experience it with (five) more, I think it will be pretty special.”

Ramie shared that she believes the blessing came from above. “I can’t help but say my mom is behind some of it.”

Her mother and father, Denice and Ray Bina, died in a car accident last July.

“It’s been a really hard year,” Ramie said. “I think that getting to be part of this worldwide event makes it even more special because we’ve had to navigate so much.”