In response to Pope Francis’ ongoing encouragement of marriage, an Ecuadorian lay woman has penned a simple thank you letter that has now gained over 1,500 signatures in the Hispanic community. “Your concern and your words have often been a source of strength to us in the midst of times and circumstances that are often challenging,” Sonia María Crespo de Illingworth’s letter read. “You have further called us to ‘experience joy’ from the ‘harmony of persons’ patient ‘love’ and ‘mutual support,’ which must be part of the family,” she said. “You have said that families must be kept strong through ‘prayer’ — especially prayer for one another.” Crespo shared the letter at the World Meeting of Families last week, where she gained some 1,500 signatures, which will be sent along to the Holy Father. In the letter she praised the Holy Father’s encouragement and support for marriage and the family not only during his visit to the United States for the World Meeting of Families, but also in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and his public addresses. “You have been a witness to the fact that ‘the holiness and indissolubility of Christian matrimony, often disintegrating under tremendous pressure from the secular world must be deepened by clear doctrine and supported by the witness of committed married couples,’” the author said, quoting Pope Francis’ address to the bishops of South Africa during their April 2014 ad limina visit to Rome. The author went on to highlight the attention the Holy Father has frequently given to Blessed Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae vitae. In light of this support, the author and signers made a pledge to strengthen their families through prayer and joyfully living out the faith. “We will pray for one another, for the Church and for you,” the letter read, especially for the upcoming Synod on the Family, “that God may enlighten the Synod fathers so that they may help families to embrace and proclaim by their lives the joy that comes from living out the Gospel.” The signers said that they wish to follow the Pope’s example by witnessing to their faith with words and actions and “resist attempts to redefine the family or create ideological colonization.”