To register, visit the official Congress website at wacomcolombia.org.
Meanwhile, according to WACOM General Secretary Fr. Patrice Chocholoski, Pope Francis has taken a personal interest in the Congress, particularly since it’s being held in the Holy Father’s home continent of South America. Following the consistory to create new cardinals in February, 17 cardinals presented the Holy Father with a letter about the Congress, and “he got directly involved in WACOM III,” Fr. Patrice said.
It’s not clear to what extent the Holy Father is involved in the plans and if he will address the Congress, either in person or via satellite. Pope Benedict opened the first WACOM in 2008 with Mass in St. Peter’s Square. He addressed the second WACOM through his Angelus, which was broadcast from Rome to WACOM attendees in Krakow, Poland, in 2011.
The upcoming Congress in Colombia is being backed by an impressive list of cardinals from around the world, including Sean Cardinal O’Malley, OFM Cap, archbishop of Boston; Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow; Rubén Cardinal Salazar Gómez, archbishop of Bogotá; Francis Cardinal Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments; Marc Cardinal Ouellet, PSS, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Audrys Cardinal Backis, archbishop Emeritus of Vilnius; Philippe Cardinal Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon; Josip Cardinal Bozanić, archbishop of Zagreb; George Cardinal Pell, archbishop of Sydney; Franc Cardinal Rodé, CM, prefect emeritus of Congregation for Religious; and many others.
Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, continues to serve as Congress president.
“Once again we will gather together people from around the world to deepen our faith in, and awareness of, the Merciful Jesus and to bring the Divine Mercy message into the daily life of the Church and the world,” said Fr. Patrice.
The structure of the Congress will be similar to the previous: five days of talks, testimonies, workshops, and festivals.
The Congress will use as its inspiration what has become the master plan for the New Evangelization in Latin America, the so called “Aparecida Document.” Written under the guidance of the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis), the document stems from the Fifth General Assembly of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Brazil in 2007.
On behalf of the 17 cardinals, Congress invitations have been sent to dioceses throughout the world. The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, who played a major role in the first two WACOMs, are serving a supporting role for the upcoming Congress. For instance, they crafted the English-language letter sent to dioceses.
The Marians had originally planned to organize a pilgrimage to the Congress. Instead, the Marians recommend that those who wish to attend make their own travel arrangements. However, the Marians do intend to organize those who arrive in Bogota from North America into a delegation, if participants are amenable.
“The Congress will help people come to know God as a God of mercy who can cure us from our brokenness, our sinfulness, and our fears,” said Fr. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, the Marians’ Provincial Superior in the United States and Argentina. “We will share how He wants us to do the same for each other — to carry each others’ crosses — in a world in desperate need of His profound gift of mercy.”
For more information, visit wacomcolombia.org.