Embracing the grace of the Pope’s visit

Embracing the grace of the Pope’s visit
The Pope in Ireland


The long-anticipated moment has arrived. Ever since Pope Francis chose Ireland three years ago to play host to the international World Meeting of Families gathering, he was determined to set foot on Irish soil.

“I will come – if I don’t come, my successor will come,” he said. Pope Francis has put care for the family at the very heart of his ministry. He has devoted two synod meetings in Rome to looking at the challenges facing families and the opportunities for the Church to reach-out and support families.

His visit to Ireland will be predominately about families and helping people to strengthen the bonds that unite them. In a sense, the family is the domestic Church for it is here in daily acts of kindness, love and sacrifice that children first experience Christianity. The Church is the ‘family of families’, and this is perfected when we come together as a Christian community to express our love of God. The World Meeting of Families will be a unique and grace-filled time to gather together and express the love that unites believers.

The papal agenda here is a packed one, ranging from civic formalities at Áras an Uachtarain and Dublin Castle, to meetings with abuse survivors and those experiencing homelessness at Dublin’s Capuchin Day Centre, to large events like the Festival of Families in Croke Park and the closing Mass in the Phoenix Park.

Papal trips are privileged occasions. It is almost 40 years since St John Paul II became the first Successor of St Peter to set foot on Irish soil. In 1979, he challenged all of us to be more authentic Christians and to model our lives on Christ above all else. It may well be many decades before Ireland sees another papal trip, so whatever the Pope says and does in the 32 hours here in Ireland will be something for the history books.

But, our faith is not merely about the history books – it is a lived reality. The challenge after the Pope leaves will be to put his message into action in the concrete reform and revitalisation of our Faith.

Holy Father, you are welcome amongst us – Fáilte Pope Francis.