Rome, Italy, Mar 20, 2015 / 03:11 am
How far would you travel to see the Pope? For one family in Argentina, seven months and 11,000 miles is a small price to pay for the chance to celebrate the World Meeting of Families with Pope Francis in September.
"The family is everything and we want to say it," Noelle Zemborain, a mother of four, told CNA.
She acknowledged that families face many "difficult situations," including meeting monthly expenses. However, she said, with the right perspective, family is not fundamentally a "limitation," but an invitation for adventure.
Zemborain and her husband will take their four children on a seven-month trip of 11,184 miles in a Volkswagen camper that they have christened "Francisca." They intend to arrive in Philadelphia in time for the World Meeting of Families Sept. 22-27.
Zemborain said her trip has a "spiritual meaning." The family hopes to strengthen personal encounters while moving away from a mindset of individualism that can make many families indifferent.
She sees the trip as an opportunity to let go of material possessions, because living in a camper means you have to save space. She also highlighted the opportunity to participate in the World Meeting of Families.
Zemborain was born in France, but has lived in Argentina most of her life. She is a communications and marketing professional who works at the University of San Andres in Buenos Aires, as well as on projects for social organizations.
Her husband, Alfredo "Catire" Walker, is an Argentine. He is an operations manager for a cuisine company that advises for restaurants, various businesses and institutions.
"Catire is super sincere and out ahead of everybody, as we say here, always going forward, he's a father who's always there for our children. I'm the envy of a lot of my friends," Zemborain said.
Their second and third children were born in Barcelona, where they had moved due to what they described as an adventurous and entrepreneurial spirit. They lived there for nine years.
"We wanted to have an experience abroad, because we liked the idea, but it was our hope to return, and now it's already been more than three years since we came back to Buenos Aires," Zemborain said.
She described their oldest daughter, 12-year-old Cala, as "very friendly."
"Many times she's taken the prize for being the best companion. She's very responsible and she loves everything artistic. Sometimes she helps us out a lot with her siblings."
Their second son, Dimas, is eight.
"He's a typical restless boy who never stops moving. We'll have to see how it's going to go with Dimas in the camper van," she laughed.
Five-year-old Mia is "very charming and affectionate" and "always bouncing around," Zemborain continued, while the youngest child, two-and-a-half year old Carmen, is the "family celebrity" and "the most lively of all."
"She talks non-stop and is very entertaining," her mother said.
The lively family began their trip with a send-off Mass at the Marian Shrine of Lujan on March 7. Celebrating the Mass was Father Gustavo Antico, the secretary of the family committee of the Argentine Episcopal Conference.
Zemborain said the priest is a friend who supported their trip and agreed to bless the camper. The family intended to consecrate the trip to Our Lady of Lujan, a patron saint of Argentina.
They left from San Isidro in the Buenos Aires Province. They will stop in Santiago, Chile and then travel up the Pacific Coast, going through Peru. They will make a tourist stop to go to Cusco, the historic capital of the Incan empire, before a stop in Lima.
After that, they will take to the road again, going through Ecuador, Columbia, Central America and Mexico. They will then travel through the U.S to reach Philadelphia.
During their travels, the family will also set aside some time and space to live their Christian life.
"We're not hippies!" Zemborain insisted. "For us the Catholic faith, the Christian life has to be part of our life…we will very much enjoy getting to know new churches in every town we go through…this will come very naturally to us and will also be a part of our conversations with others."
The eighth World Meeting of Families is expected to draw tens of thousands of participants to Philadelphia from around the world, with even more anticipated for the final Mass with Pope Francis. The event, which aims to promote and strengthen family bonds, was established by St. John Paul II in 1994 in Rome.
The World Meeting of Families website is www.worldmeeting2015.org.