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David Dawson: Papal perseverance is worth it

Friday, Sept. 25, 2015:

David Dawson Jr., his wife Kate and three of their five children are in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. David is the director of the Family Life Apostolate of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
In this latest installment, Davis talks about the logistics of maneuvering around papal security with three small kids!

We’re finally starting to learn our way around. One of the things about this place is that the papal security is so intense, and it’s in different stages at different times and in different areas.

In some areas there are metal detectors to get through, and in some areas you can’t through at all. We’ve been constantly studying maps to find out where we can go or can’t go. But we’re getting better at it.

We rented a vehicle, so that makes it a little easier. Yesterday we picked up our tickets to the papal Mass on Sunday and to the Festival of Families on Saturday. On Saturday, the only way we’ll be able to get into the city is to ride a subway. We only have a couple of subway passes, so some nice people gave us theirs. That shows that everybody is here for the right reason. This is the best crowd in the world.

We have ben meeting at the Philadelphia Convention Center. The Mass is going to be on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway – the same street in the “Rocky” films where Rocky climbed the steps during his workouts.

On Thursday we heard a talk from author Scott Hahn. We were in the very front row, and the kids were sitting on the ground among a crowd of about 2,000 or 3,000. One of the things that struck me from his presentation was this: if a child has a conversion and starts to practice the faith, the likelihood that the family will follow is about 3 ½ percent. If the mother has a conversion, that percentage jumps to 17 percent. But if the father has a conversion and practices the faith, the rest of the family follows 93 percent of the time. That’s how important it is for men to practice their Catholic faith.

Scott also broke open Genesis and spoke about marriage as a covenant. More often than not, marriage is treated as though it were a contract.

Tonight we are picking up Cardinal Gerhard Muller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to bring him to a session we are sponsoring on the Domestic Church movement. I hope we can get through security to get to his hotel. If not, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind walking two miles to meet me at the first subway stop!

Pope Francis is supposed to get to Philadelphia on Saturday. He’ll speak at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and his first public address will be at Independence Mall, right by the Liberty Bell. We don’t know how close we will be to him at the papal Mass, but we’ll be there. We have to walk about two miles just to get to the subway and then another 15 minutes to get to the Mass site, but it will be worth it.

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015

David Dawson and his wife Kate have bravely decided to travel to Philadelphia with three of their five children to attend the World Meeting of Families. They will be filing periodic reports – when their arms are free!
David is the director of the Family Life Apostolate of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Here's his first report:
We made a late decision to leave two of our five children with my Mom and Dad. It was a last-minute decision, but I have to say, it was a great decision! Thanks, Mom and Dad! She and my dad care caring for Jacob, 3 1/2, and Micah, 2.

We've got our three other children with us: John Paul is 7, Therese is 5 and Mary Clare is 6 months old. We've got our little one strapped to us, and we've got one in the stroller. The stroller makes it easy to part the crowds! We do feel a little bit like Moses.

We got in on Monday night. We're staying in a hotel about 7 miles south of Philadelphia. We saw the opening keynote address by Bishop Robert Barron, and he was absolutely amazing. Bishop Barron is the director of Word on Fire and recently was installed as an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles.

He did an incredible job, talking about “freedom” and the “family.” He was very focused on the idea of liberty. And he compared and contrasted the American idea of liberty with the Catholic understanding of liberty.

Bishop Barron said true freedom is freedom for excellence as opposed to freedom from limitations. It's interesting because the American idea and the Catholic are not really opposed but are definitely different.

He used a great analogy about the game of golf, if you can believe. Boshop Barron is an avid golfer, but not a very good one. He said if he tried to swing the golf club however he wanted – some people's definition of true freedom – he would be a lot worse than he is. It was only after going to a teacher and learning the rules and "laws" about how to properly swing the golf club that he got anywhere close to a good golf game, and, thus, true enjoyment. He got enjoyment because he followed the laws, which were good for his golf game!

Golf Digest picked up his talk, and it's all over the Internet.

He also talked about the family being the domestic church. He said when Jesus told Peter that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church, he was talking not only to St. Peter but also talking to us. Bishop Barron also said we as Catholics can move forward and be on the offensive. It's not just a defensive posture. We can move forward and the gates of hell will not be able to withstand us. That's a real paradigm shift.

The crowds have been fine. We in the midst of a lot of wonderful Catholic people who appreciate the family and have great respect for our needs.
Tonight we'll be meeting with Family Life directors from around the country and sharing stories. We're also excited about a meeting on Friday that we are going to have with couples involved in the Domestic Church movement. This was a lay Catholic movement started in Poland with the impetus from St. John Paul II that has now spread around the world. It's a movement where Catholic couples can be on a spiritual journey together. There are people from Canada, Germany, Russia and Poland in the movement that are here in Philadelphia.

We'll be making a presentation in the presence of Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith. That's really exciting.
I just have to say to my mom and dad once again – thank you!

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