Fort Belvoir family wins military scholarship to the World Meeting of Families

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It began, as many stories do these days, with Facebook.

When Carolyn Tye, wife of Army Staff Sergeant Henry Tye and mother of Emily, 10, saw a call for U.S. military families to apply to attend the World Meeting of Families and see Pope Francis in Philadelphia, she immediately filled out the application. It included an online questionnaire and a recommendation letter from her priest.

The Tye family of Fort Belvoir in Alexandria was one of 10 military families to earn scholarships awarded by the Archdiocese for the Military Services. Other families came from Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, Camp Pendleton in California, Fort Riley in Kansas, Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, Fort Gordon in Georgia, Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York, and Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

"Our family lives on a budget," Tye said. "Without this scholarship, this never would've happened."

"This" was the World Meeting of Families, a congress of 15,000 Catholics from around the globe, convening at the Pennsylvania Convention Center the week before Pope Francis' arrival. As the kickoff event to the Philadelphia papal visit, WMOF presented a range of keynote speakers, workshops, an exhibit hall of various vendors, a film festival, a museum exhibit and more. Family, from the importance of marriage to child-rearing tips, was the focus.

"What starts with the family works with the community," Tye said. "A lot of people shy away from sharing or defending their faith, but this event gives you the tools."

Carolyn enjoyed WMOF with Emily by praying together in the chapel, packing meals with Helping Hands, contributing to the Pope Francis-inspired mural, visiting the American Heritage Girls in the exhibit hall and participating in a wide range of other activities. Henry had work obligations that prevented him from coming to Philadelphia.

On Friday before the papal festivities, Carolyn and Emily attended a special Mass for military families, celebrated by Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy P. Broglio at St. John the Evangelist Church, near the convention center.

The Tye family also received passes to the Family Festival of Faith Sept. 26 and the Papal Mass Sept. 27.

With Carolyn originally from Texas and Henry originally from Kansas, the Tye family also has lived in Georgia, Virginia and Korea.

"Families are a constant in the military because we are constantly moving," said Carolyn.

She volunteers at their parish, Ft. Belvoir Catholic Community, and Emily's school, Ft. Belvoir Elementary in Alexandria. She looks forward to sharing what she has learned about family life from the congress with her parish, explaining that one of the biggest takeaways is that many solutions for societal problems can be found at home.

"Pray with your family every day," she said. "(Allow yourself to) get bored with your children."

While social media was used to spread the word about the scholarship applications, funding was made possible using a more traditional medium: radio. When AMS employees Mark Moitoza and Casey Bustamante appeared as guests on the Catholic Channel's "Seize the Day" Sirius XM show, donations came pouring in. During the show, listeners had the chance to call in and share stories about loved ones who served in the military and make a donation.

"I know I've said it a lot, but we are so grateful," said Carolyn.

Stoddard can be reached at cstoddard@catholicherald.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015