The Arey Family

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Nancy Arey with daughter Grace at the World Meeting of Families.

“As soon as I heard there was a World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, I was determined to go,” says Nancy Arey, a parishioner at St. Mary Church in Gloucester City.

Nancy entered the Catholic Charities essay contest with the goal of being able to help her family take part in the historic event. Along with husband Pat, she has five children ranging in age from 13-31. Grace, Nicholas and Elizabeth (Betsy), will be attending the week’s events in Philadelphia with their mother.

Nancy faces hurdles in participating in the World Meeting. She suffers from a central nervous system disorder and, although she perseveres with medication that helps her to manage the pain and fatigue that go along with her condition, at times her mobility is limited.

“I’m not going to let it stop me,” Arey said. She intends to attend all four days of the theological congress, the Festival of Families on Saturday, and the papal Mass on Sunday.

Nancy is motivated by love of faith and family, and a desire to be with like-minded Catholics.

“I’m excited to be around people who feel the way I do, who are excited about their faith.”

She especially has hopes that 13-year-old Betsy will be “embraced” with a sense of love and inclusion during the youth activities at the congress. Betsy has been diagnosed with learning disabilities, and she spends much of her school day in a special needs classroom isolated from other children in her public school. As a mother, Nancy feels the daily challenge of trying to provide Betsy with the best education possible.

Betsy says she’s looking forward to “meeting other people” at the World Meeting of Families, and her mother agrees.

Nancy adds that she wants to be “touched by the thoughts and words” of the people she encounters: “the keynote speakers, the breakout presenters and the attendee families.

“I am looking forward to being among a body of people who are passionate about their Catholic faith and about family,” she says.

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