Area couple shares experience at historic Vatican summit - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Area couple shares experience at historic Vatican summit


Chippewa Falls (WQOW) - Last month 250 Cardinals, Bishops, and the Pope came together to talk about the major challenges the Catholic Church faces with it's teachings on the family.

That meeting included testimony and input from 14 couples from across the world, including one right here in Western Wisconsin.

We talked with them before they left and now that the couple is back home and over their jet lag,

Jeff and Alice Heinzen sat down shared their experience at the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

"it was unbelievable,” Alice said. “It really was surreal," said Jeff.

That's how the Heinzen's describe the experience of meeting Pope Francis.

“Seven of the 11 days Pope Francis was with us all day,” Jeff said. “The first three or four days people were going up to him asking for blessings and just to interact with him. By the sixth, seventh, and eighth day it was just like having another brother in the coffee room.”

The Heinzen's were one of fourteen catholic couples selected to give testimony and listen in on the challenges the church faces with it's teaching on the family.

While the church's position on same sex marriage, divorce, and contraception captured headlines in the United States; on the synod floor the Heinzen's say everyday issues were the topic of talk.

"This was not a reform meeting,” Alice said. “Our goal was to elevate the pastoral challenges that families across the globe face. Bishop Kaigama from Nigeria was there talking about how do you give pastoral care to 175 families who's girls were kidnapped in April and don't know where they are?”

It's examples like that the Heinzen's say put things in perspective.

“The magnitude of the issues that Francis is tackling really became evident,” Jeff said.

The Heinzen's spent time taking in testimony and taking notes. They heard from other couples, church leaders, and experts.

“Our work becomes the working documents for the synod of bishops next October,” Alice said.

From that meeting, a full report including recommendations to the church will be authored by Pope Francis.

The Heinzen's say that they may be called back to Rome early in the new year but likely wouldn't be invited to take part in the synod of bishops that will take place in October.

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