1994 was declared an “International Year of the Family” by the United Nations.Pope John Paul II wanted the Church to also celebrate this Year of the Family, and so the 1st World Meeting of Families was held. It took place in Rome on 8 and 9 October 1994 under the guidance of the Pontifical Council for the Family who went on to organize all subsequent WMFs.
Since then, every three years, in different places around the world, a World Meeting of Families has been held, together with an International Pastoral-Theological Congress. It concludes with a Festival of Families in the presence of the Pope and a great final Eucharistic Celebration.
1. St. John Paul II - 1st World Meeting: 1994 (8-9 October) Rome (Italy). In the context of the Year of the Family “The Family, the Heart of the Civilization of Love.”
2. St. John Paul II - 2nd World Meeting: 1997 (4-5 October) Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). “The Family: Gift and Commitment, the hope of humanity.”
3. St. John Paul II - 3rd World Meeting: 2000 (14-15 October) Rome (Italy). In the context of the Great Jubilee of 2000, “Children: Springtime of the Family and of the Church.”
4. St. John Paul II - 4th World Meeting: 2003 (25-26 January) Manila (Philippines). “The Christian Family: Good News for the Third Millennium.” *** St. John Paul II (via TV link)
5. Benedict XVI - 5th World Meeting: 2006 (8-9 July) Valencia (Spain). “Handing on the Faith in the Family.”
6. Benedict XVI - 6th World Meeting: 2009 (17-18 January) Mexico City (Mexico). “The Family: Teacher of Human and Christian Values” *** Benedict XVI (via TV link)
7. Benedict XVI - 7th World Meeting: 2012 (2-3 June) Milan (Italy) “Family, Work & Celebration.”
8. Pope Francis - 8th World Meeting: 2015 (September 26-27) Philadelphia (USA) “Love is our mission: The family fully alive.”
9. The 9th World Meeting is scheduled to be held in Dublin (Ireland), from 22 to 26 August 2018, on the theme chosen by the Pope “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World,” framed in the context of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia and coordinated by the new Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, presided by Cardinal K. Farrell.