UN International Day of Families 2009

Day of Families Celebrated in Vienna

Vienna, Austria - A lecture and round-table discussion were organized by UPF in Vienna on May 15, 2009. As an introduction the message of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was read by the MC, Mag. Elisabeth Cook.

The main speaker of the evening, Dr. Walter Baar, an expert on demographic questions and an adviser to politicians on issues on the family, spoke on “Family politics in times of demographic changes.” He stated in his presentation that Europe’s countries will lose one third of their population in every generation due to the lack of children. Immigration can solve the problems connected to this fact only temporarily. He concluded that it is most essential to create awareness about the importance of strengthening the family.

The second speaker was Mag. Herbert Wolf, an expert on Korean society, as he has lived there for 17 years and is married to a Korean. He described aspects about the traditional Korean family and the family structure according to Confucian teachings, explaining the deeper meaning of Chinese characters related to family ethics.

He was followed by Mr. Yoon, a retired army general from Korea, whose daughter entertained the conference participants with two beautiful classical songs. Mr. Yoon explained Korean culture referring to his own life experiences. He emphasized that people see themselves as part of their extended family, including their ancestors and their descendants. That’s why children are very important in their society. Also, filial piety is still a central value in Korean families.

The third speaker was Mrs. Mira Brady, a young lady who is just finishing her studies in cultural and social anthropology. She explained that the family she comes from is the inspiration for creating her own family with her American husband. When she was comparing herself to her student friends, she realized that she was one of the few young people whose parents have not divorced, and she expressed her gratitude towards her parents for having provided a good example for her.

After the statements by the panel speakers there were questions and comments from the audience on various family issues, and the conversations continued at the international buffet reception which followed the panel discussion.

A second event commemorating the International Day of Families was an Interreligious Sunday Service on May 17. Ambassadors for Peace and guests attended in addition to the Viennese congregation of the Family Federation for World Peace. Rev. Peter Zöhrer guided the participants through a speech that Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon gave on one of her world tours, emphasizing that the family is the place where all members can gain the love and respect they need for their happiness.  

Then Mrs. Maria Neuberger-Schmidt, who just recently published a book entitled Education Is Not a Children’s Game, reflected on family relationships. She is the founder of the Parents’ Workshop, an institute that advises parents on educational issues.

Finally Mr. Peter Haider, Secretary General of UPF-Austria, handed out Ambassador for Peace certificates to intercultural couples, among them an Austrian-Iraqi couple where the husband, a sculptor, is involved with humanitarian work for migrants from his war-torn home country. Al Arabiya covered the event as they are doing a portrait on him. Other honored personalities were the “Dede,” the religious leader of the Alevi Community in Vienna, and a lady who teaches alternative healing according to an ancient Hawaiian method.

A meditation with images of families accompanied by beautiful music concluded the service.

To read UPF's Declaration on Families, click here.


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